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Points of view in Fiction: Limited Omniscient and Dramatic

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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

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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

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.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Born 1967

Biographical Information

“Interpreter of Maladies”

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.

Discussion question

After completing the story, what are your

feelings about Mrs. Das and Mr. Kapasi?

Empathy? Sympathy? Pity? Resentment? Other?

Discussion question

Why is the limited omniscient (central intelligence)

pov most effective for this story?

Discussion question

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?

Cultural Values



Mr. Kapasi

Mrs. das / Das family

Traditional Indian morality

superficial American culture

idealistic romance

raw sexuality/ animality

attracted to artful,

meaningful constructs of

language (interpretation)

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

overgrown children

The story’s limited omniscient point of view is crucial

to the ending

Theme for “Interpreter of Maladies”

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.

John Steinbeck



“The Chrysanthemums”

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.

Discussion questions

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?

Discussion question

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?

Discussion question

How does Elisa’s encounter with the tinker illustrate

1930s society’s attempts to keep women in their place?



A society based on

masculine ideals


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.

Theme for “The Chrysanthemums”

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.