Thursday, August 21, 2014

Naive Narrators

Remember that time I talked about unreliable narrators? There's one kind of unreliable narrator known as the Naif, so called because he or she is naive about some important aspect(s) of the story. Today, I'm going to more closely examine this type of narrator, because we're dealing with one in this week's book, Once by Morris Gleitzman.

Historical Fiction
One reason a narrator might be naive - compared to you, the reader - could be that they are in the middle of a historical event. Since hindsight is, after all, 20/20, you know how it turns out, and they don't, since it hasn't yet happened for them. This can create humor or sadness, depending on how it is used.

Living in a Different Place
Imagine that you suddenly find yourself living somewhere with a population that, as a rule, doesn't speak your language, eats different foods from what you're used to, and has different social rules like how to stand in line or say thank you or greet people or any number of random things you could do incorrectly on any given day. You're probably going to have some interesting insights, and you're probably going to say some naive things, being unaware of why things are done a certain way, or even that they are done a certain way. This would make you another type of naive narrator.

Age Differences
This one goes both ways. A young person might be frustrated by the slow, tech-less way an older person does a task, while an older person might be frustrated by the quick-paced, jargon-filled way a young person does it. Lots of comedians low on good material fall back on this concept, because it's relatable. Speaking from the viewpoint of one generation can create a naive narrator.

Knowledge/Skill Gap
If you have a character who is thrown into a situation calling for a specific skill set or one that requires specialized knowledge, and they don't have it, this makes them a naive narrator. It would be like if the Harry Potter books were first-person narrated (up until he actually gained some skills).

What other ways can you think of that create a naive narrator? If you were the narrator of your own story, what would you be naive about?

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