Loud and Clear

story by Mark Konik , illustrated by Sylvia Morris

Learning Intention: 

I am learning that ideas can be represented from different viewpoints so that I can understand characterisation and narrative voice in a literary text. 

Success Criteria: 

  • I can define viewpoint and narrative voice. 
  • I can identify the narrative voice in the text and the viewpoints that are included and excluded.  
  • I can consider how the narrative would change and what different information would be included if the viewpoint shifted to another character.  

Essential knowledge: 

  • More information about how the author positions the reader to perceive the text can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Point of View. 

Prior to reading the story, discuss the concept of viewpoint with the class. Provide the English Textual Concept’s definition of point of view: the position from which a text is designed to be perceived. Explain that all stories have at least one point of view and that some stories have multiple points of view. Point of view is linked to the concept of the narrator. The most common examples of point of view include:  

  • First person: where one of the story’s characters is narrating the events using first person pronouns.  
  • Third person: where there is a narrative presence telling the story and referring to the characters in third person using third person pronouns. The third person point of view can be omniscient which means ‘all-seeing, all-knowing’, or limited, which means that the narrator doesn’t know everything within the story.  

As a class, read the story. Then ask the question: what point of view is this story told from? Students should recognise that the story is told in the third person and that the narrator is limited as they only focus on Courtney’s actions, thoughts and feelings. Explain that we are not given information about how the other characters in the story think and feel, for example Courtney’s friends, her mum and the lifeguards.  

Ask why an author might choose to use a limited third person viewpoint and focus on one character? Focus on answers that address the following points:  

  • We trust a third person narrator more than Courtney because then the story doesn’t seem so one-sided.  
  • However, by focusing on Courtney’s actions, thoughts and feelings, we develop a closer relationship with her.  
  • Courtney is the character that we know the most about and therefore we care the most about her and sympathise with her when she is upset, embarrassed, happy etc.  

Explain to the class that they will experiment with narrative voice to see if they can shift the reader’s sympathies to another character. To do this, they will choose a different character’s perspective. Seeing events through that character’s eyes, they will retell events that happen in the story that may reveal when Courtney’s loud voice can cause trouble. Students should use the steps below to complete this activity. (Please note that these instructions are written directly to students.) 

First, reread the story’s opening, up until the line:  

It was a fact.  

Second, list all the characters in this scene (Courtney, Ashley, Patrick and unnamed friends, possibly Maggie and Noah from later in the story).  

Third, choose one of the secondary characters as the perspective that you will adopt.  

Fourth, add some extra detail to your character. (This could also be an opportunity to teach characterization.) You may want to brainstorm their relationship with Courtney, age, hobbies, likes and dislikes. 

Fifth, come up with a reason your character laughs when Courtney says that she wants to be a spy. Are you laughing because you are surprised? Create an anecdote that describes a time that Courtney’s loud voice caused a funny scenario. Or are you laughing because you are annoyed? Create an anecdote that describes a time when Courtney’s loud voice got you into trouble.  

Finally, rewrite the first three paragraphs of the story from the perspective of your character. You should write your story in first person and your aim is to make the audience sympathise with you laughing at Courtney.