The power of a voice can determine the direction of a story. It can bring the reader into or turn the reader away. Within that voice are various components such as style and point of view. For this I chose William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” which I had read in an undergraduate literature class.
The story is told in third person through the point of view of a young boy. As a reader, having it in third person has me watching the scenes as though I’m an unseen character moving about watching the events. If it had been told as first person, I would be limited to being inside the young boy and feeling restricted to him. That would limit the story and not give it the full experience as a reader that I felt.
His father had not spoken again. He did not speak again. He did not even look at her. He just stood stiff in the center of the rug, in his hat, the shaggy iron-gray brows twitching slightly above the pebble-colored eyes as he appeared to examine the house with brief deliberation. Then with the same deliberation he turned; the boy watched him pivot on the good leg and saw the stiff foot drag round the arc of the turning, leaving a final long and fading smear. His father never looked at it, he never once looked down at the rug. The Negro held the door. It closed behind them, upon the hysteric and indistinguishable woman-wail. His father stopped at the top of the steps and scraped his boot clean on the edge of it. At the gate he stopped again. He stood for a moment, planted stiffly on the stiff foot, looking back at the house (12).
In the section above, I imagine myself walking around his father and watching his actions intently. I am ignoring the boy until he is mentioned. While limited to experiencing only what he sees and hears, I am free to move about the other characters and get familiar with them as well. Third person allows the reader more mobility in the story even when limited by point of view.
Faulkner, William. “Barn Burning,” Collected Stories of William Faulkner. New York: Random House, 1950. 3-26. Web.