April 24, 2013

Unreliable Narrator = U: Blogging from A to Z

Only six more days to go in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

And now we are up to U.

I knew as soon as I did N = Noteworthy Narrators what U would be.

Unreliable Narrator
An unreliable narrator is a storyteller who "misses the point" of the events or things he describes in a story, who plainly misinterprets the motives or actions of characters, or who fails to see the connections between events in the story. The author herself, of course, must plainly understand the connections, because she presents the material to the readers in such a way that readers can see what the narrator overlooks. This device is sometimes used for purposes of irony or humor. (source)

Using the same example I used for plot twists, Fight Club features an unreliable narrator. An unnamed narrator (Edward Norton's character in the movie) doesn't even realize he's unreliable, so the audience has no cause to believe he is either. In this case, it was used for dramatic effect and led the reader directly to an amazing plot twist. No irony or humor there.

Then consider The Exorcist. Is the narrator Regan, or the demon who possesses her? To assume the demon, you have to embrace the idea that Regan is lost to the demon. And if it is the demon, can he even be reliable?

If any narrator is delusional or mental, can we possibly trust their interpretation of events? 

The key for the reader is if they understand the narrator is unreliable. Most often, an author chooses this device to lure the reader to a certain conclusion and have them wonder about it.

More U fun can be found at blogs listed here.

6 comments:

Dani said...

That's my worse fear, to be a unreliable narrator. *shutter* I would never want to fail on my end as a writer. Oh the horror.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Authors who pull off the unreliable narrator are true talents, in my opinion. It's not something I could do.

Great post!

M.J. Fifield said...

I agree with Stina...if an author can pull off a story with an unreliable narrator and have it work, that's impressive.

Have you ever read "The Yellow Wallpaper"? That's a great example.

Julie Jordan Scott said...

It makes me think about memoir writers being unreliable narrators. I wonder what percentage of people are actually unreliable narrators of their own lives.

Probably most?! Wow. Fascinating and lots of juiciness to roam about within.

THANK YOU so much for writing your U.... :~)

Happy A to Z-ing (for six more days!)
Julie Jordan Scott
Our Literary Grannies from A to Z:
U is for Ursula Le Guin

tweet me - @juliejordanscot

michelle said...

Interesting perspective!

Writer In Transit

marthareynoldswrites.com said...

What a great series you've done, Tia! Each day is something worth reading.