Narrator and point of view

The events in the short story “The Guilt” by Rayda Jacobs are told by a third-person narrator. The narrator follows Lilian and presents the action from her perspective: “In that moment she understood that it took very little to pull a trigger, and that the distance between rational thought and insanity was no distance at all.” (p. 129, ll. 21-23)

The narrator is limited to what Lilian experiences. Consequently, readers only get to know Lilian’s feelings and thoughts and do not know for sure what William’s plan is. For instance, Lilian claims that William’s attitude becomes threatening: “The tone of his voice had changed, and somewhere deep inside her, she felt a terrible chill. She was painfully aware that the only thing between her safety and his will, was the dogs.” (p. 128, ll. 27-30). However, this is only Lilian’s interpretation of William’s behavior. Also, the quote: “The smile on his face told her that he thought her a stupid old woman. That she had no choice” (p. 128, ll. 35-36) is Lilian’s interpretation of what she sees in William’s expression.

Furthermore, there are plenty of hints that show Lilian’s unconscious prejudice against black South African, suggesting she is biased: “They took merciless advantage, especially since the new government.” (p. 125, ll. 41-42). This is Lilian’s opinion, as many black South Africans quite likely had no intention of taking advantage of white people, but were looking for help because of their difficult social condition. 

 

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