In this exercise I am to re-write a few lines of the extract from ‘The Road’ using different types of narrator.
Original – He pushed the cart and both he and the boy carried knapsacks. In the knapsacks were essential things in case they had to abandon the cart and make a run for it. Clamped to the handle of the cart was a chrome motorcycle mirror that he used to watch the road behind them.
First Person – I pushed the cart. The boy and I both carried knapsacks, the straps cutting into our shoulders. We couldn’t lighten them, they contained the essential things we would need in case we had to abandon the cart and make a run for it. Clamped to the handle of the cart was a chrome motorcycle mirror we had salvaged. I kept one eye on it, the road behind us. The handles were heavy in my sweaty palms, with tired arms I lowered my head and pushed on.
Second Person – You pushed the cart and both you and the boy carry knapsacks. In the knapsacks are essential things in case you have to abandon the cart and make a run for it. Clamped to the handle of the cart is a chrome motorcycle mirror that you use to watch the road behind you.
If McCarthy had chosen the third person limited point of view, think about the difference between telling the story from the boys POV or the mans.
If McCarthy had chosen a third person limited point of view then he would only have been able to tell us the thoughts and feelings of one character. For this to work well he would have had to focus on just one character throughout the story as opposed to giving the pair equal importance. It would also mean that the relationship between the two could not be fully explored, there are two sides to every story!
What impact does changing the narrator have on the story? Why do you think McCarthy chose to use an omniscient narrator?
I think the ability of the omniscient narrator to know and see everything gives a lot of stories a significant advantage. It gives the author more options in exploring relationships and interplay between the characters making them more multi-faceted.
In this initial extract it also provides more mood. The reader does not know anything else about these characters, not even their names. The only information that we have is their setting, because of this, this is what we focus on. We start to wonder about their circumstances, whay are they in the position that we find them in? What are they running from or too?