Examples of narrative voice

Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger is a first person narrative. The story is told from the perspective of a character called Holden, as if he were confiding in the reader. We get a sense of his character from the language he uses.

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two haemorrhages a piece if I told anything pretty personal about them. They're quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father. They're nice and all I'm not saying that-but they're also touchy as hell. Besides, I'm not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything.

Catcher in the Rye, J D Salinger

In this extract the writer uses a third person narrator. This narrator is not a character, but a voice that knows the thoughts and feelings of the characters in the story. In this extract we are presented with Harriet’s feelings.

It was mid-afternoon and Harriet judged that there were four or five hours of light remaining. Before the night stole up on her, she must busy herself with inspecting what remained and seeing what shelter she might be able to contrive. She told herself that at such a moment, it was best to move from simple task to simple task, going slowly and keeping watch, like a mariner who prepares his small boat for the coming storm. Yet the mile upon mile of emptiness around her made her more afraid than she had ever expected and she found it difficult to move from the spot where she stood. She looked down at her feet, shod in dusty black boots, with the laces beginning to fray, and was struck by how small they appeared.

The Colour, Rose Tremain