Memoir & Point of View. More work with Tone, Pathos, and Stance. Journal #29.
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What is your earliest/first memory? About how old were you? What happened? What do you really REMEMBER about it (be honest with yourself, what parts are really your memory? what parts are what people have told you about it?) Why do you think you remember it?
You will have 10-15 minutes, GO DEEP into that memory and write as much as you can.
“It is necessary to remember and necessary to forget, but it is better for a writer to remember.”
Common elements we look at when we read memoir are:
(If you forgot to bring something, answer the
questions above anyway. What WOULD you bring?
When we analyze fiction, we make the assumption that the Narrator is NOT the author, but a character invented by the author for that particular piece of fiction. Thus, Mark Twain is not Huck Finn. The term Point of View is then used to refer to the relationship between this character and the story s/he tells:
Generally speaking, we don’t worry about the author’s relationship to the material, but only about the message s/he is trying to convey (the theme).
In non-fiction, the assumptions are different. The Voice we identify behind the words IS the writer, but the writer assumes a particular role. Sometimes this is called a mask but that term is somewhat misleading because it implies that the writer is pretending to be something s/he is not. Most of the time, in personal essays at least, this is not the case. The writer is truly as s/he presents him/herself, but we only get a part of the complex personality that makes up a human being. Thus, the Persona is genuinely but not completely the writer. Persona is the term AP prefers to use to describe the reader’s perception of the speaker in a personal essay.
Someone who writes a lot, for instance a professional writer, will often develop a style which s/he uses in all or most of his/her writing and part of this style may be a Persona. Patrick McManus, for example, uses the persona of the naïve country bumpkin in many of his essays. Most of the essays of Thoreau present the same basic Persona. This typical Persona is also part of the writer’s Narrative Stance. Narrative Stance is the term used to describe the author’s relationship to the material. It is a broader term than Point of View, which is only one element of Stance.
Since we are assuming that the writer IS the Narrator in a personal essay, we need to look at more than just his/her narrow relationship to the story (or Point of View). For one thing, there are many essays in which there IS no “story” per se and so no Point of View in the strict sense. Yet, the writer has chosen to present the material in his/her essay in a certain way and part of that choice involves his/her choice of Persona and choices about how to approach the presentation.
A writer chooses his/her stance based on his/her purpose, assumptions about the audience and understanding of the occasion – all elements of the Rhetorical Situation. For example, in “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, Martin Luther King ‘s purpose is to persuade a specific audience of Southern ministers to join with him in protesting segregation on the occasion of his incarceration for leading protests in the segregated South of the 1960’s. He chooses to present himself as a fellow minister who is calm, reasoned, logical and most especially non-threatening (mostly) because he thinks this is the best way to reach his audience.
Besides Persona, Narrative Stance can include choices about these:
Copy down the following and using the appropriate terms (as seen below) fill in this sentence:
Although most memoirs aim to create a tone of Nostalgia, Fredrick Douglas writes from a ____________, ____________ and ___________ stance, creating a _____________ tone in his “Narrative of the Life.”