Reading Response: When an author is writing a story, they have many critical decisions to make. One of the first important choices and questions they have to ask themselves are “Which point of view will the story take place? Who is the speaker of the story? ” Point of view can basically be described as who is telling the story. It is broken down into three view points, 1st person, 2nd person, and 3rd person. 1st person point of view uses “I”, which means that the story is being told through the character.
This can cause a sense of sympathy, and a connection with the character because the reader is listening to the character’s voice and how they are telling the story. Although rarely used, 2nd person point of view uses “you”, as if the writer is putting their focus on the “you” in the story; which is not always successfully accomplished. 3rd person point of view uses “he, she, they”, as the narrator tells the story of several characters and does not limit themselves to a single character’s awareness, but as a whole.
Point of view drives us to the theme and meaning of the story because the story’s meaning can depend on how it is told, and from which point of view. “The Yellow Wallpaper”, a short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is about a woman and her new family, spending a summer in a vacation home. The story is told in a 1st person point of view, through the woman’s eyes. Gilman deliberately used 1st person point of view so the reader can, to some extent, develop a connection to the character and her deranged ways, and reveal the meaning of the story; break free. The Yellow Wallpaper” is about a woman, who is the narrator of the story, which is a newlywed mother, who is being treated for depression by her husband, John, who is a physician. We can assume that she is writing in a journal or diary because at the end of the first scene she says “There comes John, and I must put this away, — he hates to have me write a word” (Gilman). She believes that she is very sick, and John continuously tries to convince her that everything is okay.
The reader now feels somewhat constrained because that is how the narrator feels. This is the direct cause of 1st person point of view. We can see that John, who is treating her, also has a hold over her because she cannot write in his presence and he doesn’t believe her when she tries to tell him that she is sick. In the vacation home, they choose a bedroom that is has particular yellow wallpaper that the narrator despises. She goes on and on about how ugly the wallpaper is; “the color is repellent, almost revolting” (Gilman).
As her depression carries on, so does her obsession with yellow wallpaper; however, the reader of the story can see the reasons why she is feeling the way she does. 1st person point of view allows the reader to understand one character’s outlook, and hear their voice. If the focus was on the husband’s point of view, the entire story’s meaning would change because the husband only sees the “outside” of his wife, and cannot explain or understand what she is going through. During the climax of the story, she has become so obsessed with yellow wallpaper, that she sees a woman trapped inside.
In order to free her, she locks the door, and the narrator begins to “peel off all the paper I could reach standing on the floor” (Gilman). When John finally enters the room hysterically asking what she has done, the woman replies “I’ve got out at last, in spite of you and Jane, [and] I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back! ” (Gilman). The end shows how the narrator’s stunt was done in order to free herself from her husband’s hold over her. “Freedom” was the author’s and narrator’s message; freedom from her marriage and attempt to repress her mind.