Spencer Holst’s “The Zebra Storyteller”: A Point Of View Analysis

955 words - 4 pages

Point of view in a text plays a key role in establishing the direction that the plot will take. The narrator has the ability to guide the reader in the direction in which they desire. Allowing knowledge to be retained or granted at free will. Through a third person narrator in Spencer Holst’s “The Zebra Storyteller” the idea that plot may be controlled by the power of an omniscient point of view is explored.
The text “The Zebra Storyteller” is depicted through a third person narrator: “Once upon a time there was a Siamese cat […][who] spoke inappropriate Zebraic” (1). The narrator introduces all characters in the short story at it’s own pace. He or she gives us only the information needed to be able to draw conclusions. The narrator appears to be an observer who has been granted privileged knowledge of the characters at hand. He or she has insight into the characters actions, feelings and thoughts: “through [the zebra’s] mind ran plots” (21). In a first person point of view only the view of the character that is narrating is presented. In “The Zebra Storyteller” the power of narration and plot guidance has been granted to a third person point of view who is all knowing; he or she holds an omniscient point of view. This presents the idea that the narrator in the short story has the power to control the thoughts presented, as only those that are relevant to the story are offered. From these details alone, meaning is to be extracted from the text to acquire the relevance of the short story as applied to the author’s possible intent.
The intent of the text is not made available until the end of the short story. The narrator has presented an unexpected plot twist: “That is the function of the storyteller” (31). There is nowhere left to go but backwards; a finish line has been crossed where the narrator will no longer explain the meaning of these last words. What is the function of the storyteller? The narrator had not previously discussed the concept of what the function of a storyteller is. Simply, he or she presented a plot with a series of events far from providing an explicit description of the function of a storyteller. The narrator has inserted this flush at the end as a roadblock. A means to further explore the text in greater detail. All along the third person point of view has presented us exactly with the answer to this question: “[The zebra] wasn’t fit to be tied at hearing a cat speaking his language, because he’d been thinking about that very thing” (27). The purpose of a storyteller is to turn, pull and twist the story, plot, setting and characters in whichever way he or she desires.
The narrator rotates the plot in the...

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