Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View
The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.
Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.
First person, second person, third person, whew! Point of view is a type of narrative mode, which is the method by which a story’s plot is conveyed to the audience. Point of view reveals not only who is telling the story, but also how it is told. Consider a recent short story published on The Worship Collective, “Funny Things,” in which the narrator is a child who has passed away.
Need a refresher on first-person narration? Recall Scout Finch, the six-year-old first-person narrator of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout tells the story through her eyes:
It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.
“‘Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.”
Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.
Refer to some of the exercises we’ve done on character, dialogue, and even sentence length to help craft this person. All of these storytelling elements can combine to create a strong point of view.
No one from the neighbourhood, but me has come out to watch them people hammering at Mrs. Pauley’s door. Since from the time I can remember, Mrs. Pauley has always been part of this street. She had sons like me, but they are all grown up and gone now, I can kind of remember what they look like, but they don’t come visit like what they used to do. My Mum said she don’t want me to be like that, she said my time will come when I will want to leave home but I don’t think that will ever happen, but mum just laughs and says, “You’ll see.” and then she says she hopes I’ll come home at Christmas time and on her birthday to say hello and to remember that she has always done her best.
I asked mum if Mrs Pauley had done her best and mum said, “Yes.” and then busied her herself with the washing up and told me to go out side and get some sunshine.
I didn’t really know Mr. Pauley, he seemed to be angry a lot of the time. Whenever he started shouting and stuff, mum would call me indoors and tell me to play in the back garden or in my bedroom.
Three month back, Mr. Pauley suddenly died and there was a lot of noise from the ambulance and police cars that sped into our road. The thing is, it’s not a road as you can only get to the end bit before you have to turn round again to get out. Me, mum, dad and my sister Beverley all stood at our gate and watched as they brought Mr. Pauley out, he was all covered up in a black bag and you couldn’t see his face. Mum said that it wasn’t a good sign and I asked her why and she said not to ask. Beverley told me later that Mr. Pauley had died in suspicious circumstances. I asked Beverley what that meant and she said Mr. Pauley had been murdered by Mrs. Pauley, that she had had enough and had pushed him down the stairs.
When I asked mum, she said not to say things like that because they may not be true. I asked her if they could be true, but mum told me not to mention it again.
I heard mum say that it was a disgrace that none of Mrs. Pauley’s boys had been to see her and that she was going to go round, but dad said it was best not to get involved.
For the next few weeks I would sit right here on the doorstep and watch Mrs. Pauley’s house. I told myself that if she came out of her house I would run over and say that i didn’t believe that she had killed Mr. Pauley and that if she wanted to come and live with us for a while that I would give her my bedroom and I would sleep on the sofa downstairs.
I had thought about saying that I would sleep in her house, but then I thought that Mr. Pauley might come back as a ghost and be angry with me for being in his house and so I decided not to mention that bit.
I think Mrs.Pauley must go out late at night after i’ve gone to bed because I have never saw her come out and I have never saw anyone go in. I then thought that Mrs. Pauley might go out at night and get her shopping from the late night shop down Harper Street. I then got even more worried for Mrs. Pauley as that shop only sells things in tins and nothing fresh.
I got a call from mum to say she had made me a sandwich. I didn’t want to go in as the police and some other people had gone inside Mrs. Pauley’s, but not come out for a long time. I then decided that I would grab my sandwich and take it over for Mrs. Pauley. I ran into the house as quick as I could and picked up the sandwich’s from my plate and mum shouted at me to not drop them and make a mess and then I ran outside and I checked the road and saw the police car and the black car had gone.
There was a note on Mrs. Pauley’s door and I ran over and I read the note but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. The only word I could read was, Eviction Notice. Do Not Remove, Keep Out.