Point of View
In this lesson, students will focus on the use of point of view in the short story. They will re-examine first-person narration in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and also consider third-person narration in Kate Chopin's “Regret.”
- Read the lesson and student content.
- Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
- Decide how you will pair up students to share their new versions of “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
Section 1: Choice of Narrator Quick Write
- Give students a few minutes to write their responses.
Complete a Quick Write.
- How can an author’s choice of narrator have a significant effect on the story as a whole?
Section 2: First Person Narration
- Introduce the terms first person ,third person , andpoint of view , if necessary.
- Encourage students to reflect on both the advantages and the disadvantages of first-person narration.
- Project or display student instructions and questions for easier viewing.
- SWD: Identifying a reliable or unreliable narrator can be tricky for some students with disabilities. One possible way to explain how to tell if a narrator is reliable is to help students to identify specific places in the text where they can see that the narrator’s perspective might be twisting the truth. Encourage them to consider why a writer would choose to create an unreliable narrator.
With a partner, share your thoughts from your homework on the narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
Use the following questions to guide your conversation.
- What are the pros and cons of using a first-person narrator?
- Is the narrator in Poe’s story reliable?
- How does the reliability of the narrator change your reading of the story?
Section 3: Regret
- Remind students to annotate and respond to questions in the text so they can easily refer to their notes on “Regret.”
- If time is short, you can reduce the reading time by having your students look only at the first two or three paragraphs of “Regret.”
- ELL: This short story contains various types of dialect that may be hard for ELL students to interpret. Check in with them as they read and provide support as needed. It may be helpful to write “translations” on the board for reference. It may also be helpful to give them a little bit of background information about the time and place that Chopin describes, 19th-century Louisiana.
Working independently, read and annotate “Regret” by Kate Chopin.
- As you read, make a few notes about how the third person point of view shapes your experience as a reader.
Section 4: Point of View Class Discussion
- Lead a discussion in which students have a chance to consider the ways a writer's choices affect the reader's experience.
- SWD: One way to quickly demonstrate the difference between first- and third-person narration is to prepare a rewrite of the first paragraph from the Chopin story as if it had been written with a first-person narrator to model the differences concretely. Place the versions side-by-side for students to compare.
With the whole class, consider the ways point of view is used in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “Regret.”
Use the following questions to guide your discussion.
- Can you think of stories other than “The Tell-Tale Heart” that are written in the first person?
- Why would a writer choose to write a story in the first person?
- Can you think of a story that is told in the third person?
- How does that point of view affect the story?
- How would “The Tell-Tale Heart” have been different if Poe had chosen to employ a third-person narrator?
Section 5: Tell-Tale Heart Rewrite
Students do not necessarily need to mimic the language of Poe, but should focus on the switch from first- to third-person narrator.
* * ELL: Circulate as students are working and check in with students who need support with making the transition from first- to third-person narration.
Reread the first three paragraphs of “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
- Write a new version of these paragraphs, but this time use a third-person narrator.
Section 6: Rewrite Partner Share
- Project or display the student instructions and questions for easier viewing.
- Students should read their own versions aloud to their partner without interruptions.
- After they talk with partners, give students a chance to share their thoughts with the whole class.
Read your new version to a partner and have your partner read his/her story to you. As you listen, jot down any ideas or question that occur to you. When you have both finished reading your new version, discuss the following questions.
- What was lost by writing in the third person?
- What was gained by the use of third person?
- Which version do you like best?
When you finish, share your ideas with the class. Use specific evidence from either your own writing or Poe’s to support your points.
Section 7: Examples of Short Stories
- Determine where and how you want your students to look for stories. You may direct them to a school library, the Internet, or another resource.
- There are websites that offer support materials, like ManyThings.org: under the American Stories category, which includes audio with the text.
- For homework, find an example of one American short story written in the first person and one written in the third person.
- Share the titles and authors of the stories you find with your teacher.