compare and contrast great falls and hills like white elephants

Essay Topic: Compare and contrast the use of point of view in two stories. Stories Chosen: Richard Ford’s Great Falls and Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants Point of view is an important literary device that an author may use to help enrich the plot of the story. Different point of views (such as first person, third person, omniscient, ect) offer a different style of storytelling and can be used to great effect. Ernest Hemmingway and Richard Ford’s stories feature different point of views. “Great Falls” is told in first person with the main character, Jackie, serving as the narrator. In “Hills Like White Elephants” a third person point of view is used. These two different point of views create a vastly different perspective for the reader.

Great Falls is a story about a young boy growing up in Montana. He lives with his mother and father, who live a simple rural life. The story begins with the narrator describing his life helping his father hunt and fish, before quickly shifting gears and exposing his mother’s infidelity. It is during this scene, where Jackie witnesses his father’s anger, his mother’s indifference of her crumbling marriage, and Woody’s near suicidal sense of chivalry that the first person point of view is most prominent. Jackie narrates his feelings and what he thinks others are feeling. An example is “She did not smile at me [sic] which made me feel strange” (Bausch and Cassill 570). By using first person narration Ford ensures that all audiences will interpret how Jackie experiences this situation the same. It is important to note that in this case the narrator is a young boy in a very shocking situation. This means that Jackie’s views might be naive and inaccurate. It is up to the reader to determine what is reliable.

“Hills Like White Elephants“is about a man and woman’s interaction at a bar while waiting for a train to Madrid. The story is told in third person, and in a very detached sense. The reader is presented with the dialog between the unnamed man and woman without any emotional information. Without an emotional context the reader is tasked with interpreting the mood and feelings of each individual in the story. The story ends with the woman saying to the man “I’m fine. There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.” (Bausch and Cassill 665). This kind of dialog and style of storytelling allows each separate individual to develop their own thoughts on if the characters are content, happy, and in love or perhaps tired, angry, and bored. By letting the reader decide the tone of the conversation Hemmingway creates room for interpretation and discussion.

The primary difference in the two point of views discussed are how emotions are portrayed. With a first person view point each characters emotions are expressed by how the narrator experiences them. In the case of “Great Falls” the narrator is a young boy and may not correctly interpret each characters emotion. This can create complexities as the reader must themselves discern between reliable insights and those of a naïve young boy. In a third person view point the reader is given a much less biased view of events. In “Hills Like White Elephants” the reader is given only dialog and facial expressions. This allows the reader to interpret scenes according to their own intuition, creating a great forum for discussion.

Regardless of which point of view is used it is the job of the reader to interpret each scene by carefully reviewing the details and intricacies of each interaction. Point of view allows an author to choose how much and what type of information will be relayed to audience. Final Essay Word Count: 589 words

Works Cited
Cassill, R. V., and Bausch, Richard, eds. The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. 7th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.,2006. Richard Ford “Great Falls” (pg 564)
Ernest Hemingway “Hills Like White Elephants” (pg 661)

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