Owen Flanagan of Duke University, a leading consciousness researcher, writes that “Evidence strongly suggests that humans in all cultures come to cast their own identity in some sort of narrative form. We are inveterate storytellers.”
Although the written form of stories displaced the oral centuries ago, the writer in every age has used his or her narrator to portray some of his or her own expressions, idiosyncrasies, flaws, anger, frustration and sadness.
When the story you’re reading is from the point-of-view of a character in the novel (often the protagonist), you’re reading first-person narration. This first-person narrator makes frequent use of the pronoun “I,” and gives a direct peek into his or her narrator’s feelings which could also be the writer’s.
Examples of famous first person narration in literature are Scout in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird or Bilbo Baggins, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
A writer can make the narrator complicate things in a story like there is the interior monologue of the Underground Man in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘Notes from the Underground’ and the dramatic monologue of Jean-Baptiste in Albert Camus’s ‘The Fall.’
There’s even the strange, plural first-person narration in Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily.”
There is also a narrator watching all the action from the sidelines. This narrator is peripheral and not the main character. The peripheral narrator stands at a safe distance and gives us the details about the protagonists and antagonists like Nick Carraway in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, ‘The Great Gatsby.’
A first person narration can give access into the character’s thoughts and feelings but a third person narrator can go places and give the readers the details of everyone else in the story.
It’s also super important to remember that when a first-person is narrating the story, they do not disclose everything, at least not right away.When we can’t trust our narrator, we call them unreliable.