Using Pronouns to Analyze Point of View
Lesson 2 of 21
Objective: Students will be able to analyze the pronouns used in different points of view by consulting a reference sheet and writing from various characters' points of view.
Pronouns are devilishly simple. They're simple in that they allow you to simplify your speech by replacing a noun with a pronoun. Instead of saying, "Juan said this. Juan said that. Juan drove a car. Juan blah blah blah" you can replace some of the Juans with a pronoun--in this case, he. Juan said. . . he drove. . .he blah blah blah.
But then it gets complicated, because there's a whole lot of pronouns out there. In fact, I tried to create a Wordle pic for you, but it broke Wordle.
If you're using the pronoun in the subject of the sentence, you need to use the subjective. If you're using the pronoun in the predicate, you need the objective pronoun. If you're talking about possessives, in the subject or the predicate, then you need the possessive. Don't worry, that's all on the reference sheet. It's also in the picture to the left. S stands for subjective, O stands for objective, and P stands for possessive.
We read through the sample passages from Phillis Reynolds Naylor's Shiloh, Jim Garland's The Baffled Parent's Guide to Great Basketball Drills, and Louis Sachar's Sideways Stories from Wayside School.
As we read through the examples, I pointed out that when you're identifying the point of view, you have to be careful. Shiloh is written in first person, but if you look at just the sentences I've highlighted in the picture, it looks like it's in third person.
- HER glass of cold tea
- the way SHE likes
- Becky pushes HER beans ofer the edge of HER plate
Those sentences use pronouns that are in the list of third person pronouns. You have to consider the entire passage to determine point of view correctly.
Dialogue is also a pitfall for point of view. Dialogue is inherently written in first person, but you can't consider dialogue when identifying the point of view.
You have consider the entire text when analyzing point of view. Not dialogue, not one or two sentences, but the whole thing.
Not only is identifying point of view difficult, but writing in various points of view? It's like competing in a triathlon. In a triathlon, you run, bike, and swim. But you can only do one at a time. You can't swim and bike. You can't run and swim. It's the same thing with point of view. You can use first person, second person, and third person, but not at the same time.
Here's an example of someone who tried to use ALL THE PRONOUNS in the point of view triathlon.
The pronouns highlighted in yellow are third person. The pronouns highlighted in green are second person. The pronoun highlighted in pink is first person.
The second page of the Point of View Reference Sheet shows how to fix this and stay consistent with pronouns.
Point of View Application
I asked students to show their understanding of point of view by rewriting passages from The Hunger Games in different points of view. Since we're just beginning the novel, I chose the reaping, but you could have students practice throughout the novel with various plot events. Students could practice with
- describing Cinna, Portia, Haymitch, and Portia preparing Katniss and Peeta from arena. They could use third person omniscient to narrate what occurs for all of those characters, or they could choose one for third person limited. They could also choose one character and use first person.
- describing the events of the bloodbath at the Cornucopia.
- narrating the events that unfolded the day each tribute dies.
There's lots of opportunities for repeated practice with this activity. You can also use it as a formative or summative assessment to see if students are reading and comprehending.
Here's the prompt I gave studens for the reaping day narrative.