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  • Study Guide
Main Ideas

Point of View

Main Ideas Point of View

The anonymous narrator of Beloved is omniscient. This means that the narrator has access to the interior thoughts and experiences of many characters, and reports those thoughts and experiences in the third person and without direct judgment. The narrator slips frequently between the points of view of different characters, especially Sethe, Denver, Paul D, and Stamp Paid. The frequent movement between points of view allows the reader to consider events and characters through multiple perspectives and to confront difficult subject matter without rushing to judgment. For example, it would be easy for the reader to condemn Sethe for killing her child if the narrator never presented her perspective of the events. But because the narrator gives voice to Sethe’s reasoning as well as the reactions of her family and the Cincinnati community, the readers are invited to engage with the moral difficulty of Sethe’s situation rather than simply denounce her. Although the anonymous narrator speaks for the majority of the novel, in chapters 20–22, Sethe, Denver, and Beloved each have monologues in which they speak in the first person and directly express their own thoughts and opinions. In chapter 23 all three characters speak together, with their voices interwoven such that the distinctions between them blur.