The Role of the Narrator in The Lottery and A&P

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A story cannot be told without a narrator. In order for a story to be interesting and

presentable it is important to have a narrator for a story. A narrator basically tells the story. He

or she can either be part of a story or could also be outside the story as an observer. It is

important for a story to have a narrator because through the narrator the reader gets to feel the

and understand the thoughts and feelings of all the characters involved in the story. Readers can

picture the setting of the story thorough the narrator's eyes, and get into the minds of the

characters through the narrator's mind. When telling a story, choosing a narrator is very crucial

and important. Depending on who the narrator is a story can lead the reader to different

interpretations since different narrators can have different points of views. Changing a narrator

can change the whole story since different narrators have different points of view. How one

narrator feels about a character can be totally different compared to how another narrator feels

about that character. For example, one narrator might not think of a villian character as a villian

and view that character as a hero of the story, giving reader a different points of view about that


In the story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson the narrator is a third person who is not a

character in the story. The narrator informs the reader about all the events that takes place in the

story and also tells the reader how each of the characters feel about different aspects of the story.

Whereas in the story by John Updike, A & P, the narrator, Sammy, is one of the characters of the

story. Also in A & P the narrator describes the events taking place in the story and describes his

feelings towards the other characters. Since the narrator is one of the characters in A & P, the

reader is limited to the amount of information given by the narrator. Meaning, the reader only

gets to see what the narrator wants the reader to see. For example, towards the beginning of the

story Sammy describes the three girls who enters the drug store. Sammy describes the type of

clothing each girl is wearing, and also gives the reader his own interpretation about the kind of

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Role of the Narrator in The Lottery and A&P." 19 Jan 2017

cloths they are wearing. Since Sammy only gives his own interpretations about the cloths that the

girls are wearing, the reader is limited to the interpretation given by Sammy about the girls.

Whereas in The Lottery the reader is not limited to the narrators internpretations. The reader can

express their own feelings or interpret the events and thoughts on their own since the narrator is

not judging the characters on his own.

In addition, if the narrator was changed from being a third person observer to one of the

characters within the story than the reader would miss some of events taking place in the story.

The reader would also be limited to the amount of background discription and the amount of

discription given about all the characters. For example, if the narrator of The Lottery was

changed to one of the characters within the story than the story would be told from a totally

different point of view. The narrator would not be able to describe all the even and dialogues that

heppens in the story. For example, if the narrator of The Lottery was changed to one of the

characters than reader would not be able to view everything that takes place. Suppose if the

narrator was Tessie, than she would probably choose somebody else to be the winner of the

lottery or may be to gain popularity discontinue the whole lottery tradition. Whereas if the

narrator of A & P was changed from one of the characters to a third person observer, than the

reader would be able to make their own judgement about the girls and the way they were dressed.

Also the narrator would give more discription about Sammy and McMahon.

Therefore, if a story is told in a different point of view than the reader would be limited to

the narrators interpretations of the story and it's characters. Depending on the narration, the

reader might feel sympathy for the narrator. Also the point of view of the story would not be as

effective and interesting if the narrator was to be changed.

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