In A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, What Is the Story Point of View?

The short story is told from the third-person omniscient point of view. But during the lengthy dialogues, it resembles a play in two actions (one inside the café and the other in the bar). This approach lets the readers see the expressed and unrepressed thoughts and feelings of the characters.

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A there are five possible points of view in any story:

  1. First-person. “I tell the story, and I am present at the events.” 
  2. Second-person. “I tell the story to you.” It is a rare point of view in fiction. 
  3. Third-person limited. “The story is about him or her.” The narrator has no access to the characters’ thoughts and does not know how the story will end.  
  4. Third-person objective. “The story consists of facts and dialogues.” No characters’ thoughts are described. 
  5. Third-person omniscient. “The story is about him or her.” The narrator knows everything: the thoughts, feelings, and plans of the characters, as well as the ending of the plot. 

Hemingway preferred the last variant in most of his fiction. Meanwhile, he added lots of dialogues, letting the characters reveal their thoughts without the narrator’s interference. In this respect, one can easily mistake it for the third-person objective. The narrative is so flat and impersonal that the reader forgets about the author. This omniscient perspective allows Hemingway to stay above the scene, watching how the reader deals with the characters’ emotions.

The narrator is always detached and never explains what is going on. The reader is offered plain facts to decode their subtext and symbolism. But we know what the characters think about, which is the main sign of a third-person omniscient point of view.

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