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Thread: A child's POV?

  1. #1
    Kari
    Guest

    A child's POV?

    Last night, in XJ Kennedy's Introduction to Fiction, I noted that William Faulkner was praised for inserting his elevated, passionate style of narration into a first-person POV story with a young child as the protagonist (As I Lay Dying). I don't necessarily believe this is a good thing to do, for it seems to run contrary to traditional notions of POV. Whenever I read a story like this, I find myself saying, "but a child would never speak like that!" What do you guys think?



  2. #2
    Pamela Taylor
    Guest

    Re: A child's POV?

    I agree writing in children's voices is hard. And usually when I read them, whether in adult or children's literature, I say the same thing you do, "kids' don't really sound like that." I think it relates to the fact that we expect children in stories to sound like the children in our lives or some preconceived notion of how a child is supposed to speak, whereas in reality each child has an individual voice, and therefore there are many ways a child might speak in a story that could be realistic. I don't know why we accept the differring voices of adults as genuine (except for when they are patently false, such as a slave speaking like s/he held a degree from Harvard) and don't allow children to have the same degree of individuality.

    Orson Scott Card's novel Ender's Game is mostly about children and a lot of people criticized him because his children thought, felt, acted and spoke pretty much like adults. His response was that as a child he thought, felt, acted and spoke pretty much like an adult, and certainly thought of himself as a person just as an adult does and so do his characters. I thought this was a marvellous defense and I agree whole-heartedly. Children's identities are as strong and individualistic as adults. Their ability to communicate this may be limited by a less than complete facility with language, or with a still incomplete analysis and understanding of the feelings, motivations and thoughts which make up their personality, but they are no less individual, persons, than the rest of us.

    What does it say about our relations to children that we can't accept this individualized voice in stories? That we expect all kids to say, "this is the bestest" and "I wented to school today!"?

  3. #3
    Catherine McCallum
    Guest

    Re: A child's POV?

    While I agree that children's personalities are as strong as adults', I don't believe that they have the same insights. I thought that was definitely a weakness in 'Ender's Game,' and it pretty much ruined the novel for me.

    Cathy

  4. #4
    nate2 newton
    Guest

    Re: A child's POV?

    I just finished a series of short stories that are written in 3rd person, limited, focusing on the child's POV. It is tricky to do, but I was so focused on the child's point of view that it was easy and threw in lots of irony, so it wouldn't be a real snorer. Now using 1st person POV as a child?? That would be tough. Look at Huckleberry Finn as a great example; it works though the dialect gets old at times.

  5. #5
    Kari
    Guest

    Re: A child's POV?

    Cathy - exactly. I totally agree that each child has a unique voice and personality that should be conveyed in the style and tone of the writing. It's the adult insights and elevated language that some authors use that bothers me. I don't care how precocious a little kid is - some things are just developmental.

  6. #6
    Murg
    Guest

    Re: A child's POV?

    Ender's Game is one of my favorites, and I've been surprised at how many people DON'T know the book. Glad to know it's popular with fellow writers.

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