SparkNotes Blog

The 6 Most Unreliable Narrators in Literature

When you’re reading a book, you like to think you can trust the person who’s telling the story, but the reality is sometimes you can’t. Sometimes what you get instead is a garbled series of omissions, half-truths, and straight-up lies. It’s like being friends with a compulsive liar—they like to jazz up their anecdotes with impossible details, and it’s up to you to figure out what’s real. Wow! You were on your way to school when WHAT happened? A helicopter? Right in front of you? And Tom Hanks was doing cartwheels the entire time? Very cool. Sounds super plausible. Thanks for sharing, Connor.

Much like Lying Connor, sometimes an unreliable narrator will mislead you on purpose. Other times, they’re spiraling downward into madness. The following narrators are a little bit of each.