Points of view in Fiction: Limited Omniscient and Dramatic. “Interpreter of Maladies”. Limited Omniscient: the short story is told in the third person from the viewpoint of one character (usually the central figure). Authors tell us what this
Limited Omniscient and Dramatic
Limited Omniscient: the short story is told in the
third person from the viewpoint of one character
(usually the central figure). Authors tell us what this
character sees and hears and what he or she thinks
and feels, They know everything about their point of
view character--often more than the character knows
about him or herself. They limit themselves to this
character’s perceptions and thus show no direct
knowledge about what other characters are thinking
or feeling or doing, except for what the p.o.v. character
knows or can infer about them.
From even the expository section of the story, a reader
can depict an international theme: the disparity between
the Americanized Das family and the older, more traditional
(Indian) Mr. Kapasi. One of the major events/symbols driving this
theme is their arrival at the Sun Temple of Konarak.
After completing the story, what are your
feelings about Mrs. Das and Mr. Kapasi?
Empathy? Sympathy? Pity? Resentment? Other?
Why is the limited omniscient (central intelligence)
pov most effective for this story?
What symbolism do you see in the last paragraph’s description of the piece of film magazine floating up to
where the monkeys are sitting in the trees?
Mrs. das / Das family
Traditional Indian morality
superficial American culture
raw sexuality/ animality
attracted to artful,
meaningful constructs of
Culturally unevolved state
of sensibilities, crass, obtuse
living in dishonest marriage
for eight years
honest in feelings
Portrayed as a man of
substance and imagination
Adults: Portrayed as
The story’s limited omniscient point of view is crucial
to the ending
Some men that experience midlife tribulations--whose domestic life is physically comfortable but spiritually unfulfilling and lacking in romance--may construct a
fantasy life around another woman to bolster their attachment to idealistic romance and youthful dreams,
not expecting a sudden truth to shatter their world and effect the continuation of their melancholy solitude.
Objective (Dramatic):the narrator disappears into a
kind of roving sound camera; this camera can go
anywhere but can only record what is seen and heard.
Readers are placed in the position of spectators at a
movie or play. They see what the characters do and
hear what they say but must infer what they think
or feel and what they are like. The purest example of
this p.o.v. would be a story written entirely in dialogue.
What are your feelings about Steinbeck’ choice of the dramatic (cinematic) point of view?
Would another point of view, say first person or limited omniscient, have helped you to better understand Elisa’s frustrations, or are we better off not having more detailed explanations of what is going on in her mind?
Early on, Steinbeck incorporates description of the setting--particularly the Salinas Valley and the house behind Elisa. How does this help the reader in understanding the protagonist’s plight?
How does Elisa’s encounter with the tinker illustrate
1930s society’s attempts to keep women in their place?
A society based on
strong and intense
suppressed by economic
has feminine talents
has compassion, a sense
of the romantic, trust,
concern for others
men are self-serving and
superficial, lack romance
The dramatic point of view serves to enhance our sense of what it is
that Elisa longs for, but will never achieve.
For some strong, energetic women who want to
break free of traditional barriers, to realize their
spiritual and erotic cravings, to release their
nurturing qualities and feminine talents in a wider
world, the forces of a male dominated society may
too powerfully stunt their capacities for growth
and expression, thus perpetuating the frustration of
their present condition.