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Lesson 3: Narrative and Point of View

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1 Lesson 3: Narrative and Point of View
The narrator tells the story, with a specific perspective informed by his or her beliefs and experiences. Narrators can be major characters or minor characters, or exist outside the story altogether. The narrator weaves his or her point of view, including ignorance and bias, into telling the tale.

2 A first-person narrator participates in the events of the novel, using “I”.
A distanced narrator, often not a character, is removed from the action of the story and uses the third person (he, she, and they). The distanced narrator may be omniscient, able to read the minds of all the characters, or limited, describing only certain characters’ thoughts and feelings. Ultimately, the type of narrator deterimes the point of view from which the story is told.

3 In the Time of the Butterflies has twelve chapters that span from 1938-1994.
We receive detailed descriptions and learn both the spoken and unspoken thoughts of all four major characters directly, as most of these chapters are from a first-person point of view. Alvarez as said that writing the novel has allowed her to understand Trujillo’s dictatorship from a woman’s point of view. We also see how the past informs the future and the irony that Dede’s survival drives her to tell the story of her sisters’ deaths.

4 Discussion: Why does Alvarez write the novel from multiple points of view? Why did she choose to write Maria Teresa’s chapters in epistolary form—in the form of a letter or diary? What are the advantages or disadvantages of the first-person, third-person, and epistolary points of view?

5 What is the difference in each sister’s voice?
Dede Patria Minerva Maria Teresa Is Alvarez successful in making each sister distinct? If so, how does she achieve this effect?

6 Activities: write a description of a personal experience in their reader’s journals. You may choose to write in a straightforward first-person narrative, in epistolary form, or to describe their experience from a third-person point of view.

7 Homework: Read Chapter 6.
Write one paragraph in your journals about each sisters’ personality and interests. Is there on sister who may be considered the “main character” of the novel? Why or why not?

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