The Extent To Which The Journalist In "The Man Who Would Be King" Is A Responsible Narrator And Why Readers Should Be Wary

1500 words - 6 pages

First-person narrative is employed in Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King. There are three kinds of narrative techniques, namely, first-person narrative, second-person narrative, and third-person narrative. A first-person narrator is one that is also a character in the story, who uses words and phrases to refer himself/ herself as “I”. Such literary technique can be further divided into mainly three categories. For first person main character narration, the narrator is the main character in the story. Thus, the narrator should appear in most of the scenes in the story and at least learn about the things that happened in scenes that he/ she is absent. When the main ...view middle of the document...

On the other hand, a narrator that is not trustworthy enough to make everything he/ she said convincing bears a role of hinting the readers to what extent they should believe in him/ her. Bransford has pointed out first person narrator’s another important role of being a filter when advising writers on how to write this kind of narrative:“The absolute most important thing to keep in mind as you're crafting a first person narrative is that everything that occurs has to be filtered through your narrator's perspective. Everything the reader sees is therefore infused with the narrator's personality and pathos. Things don't just happen in a first person narrative, they happen through the narrator's perspective.The really compelling first person narrators are the ones where a unique character is giving you their take on something that is happening, and yet it's clear to the reader that it's not the whole story. You're getting a biased look at the world, which is central to the appeal of the first person narrative.”In The Man Who Would Be King, the English journalist serves as an internal reader of the story. Having a respectable career as being a journalist, he is expected to be an unbiased and trustworthy reporter of news and stories who can express ideas with words profoundly. Thus, a journalist’s job is similar to that of a narrator. By his professionalism on the use of language and his being a civilized middle-class Englishman, the journalist in The Man Who Would Be King has apparently fulfilled the role of gaining credibility and acceptance as a narrator from the readers. By correcting the grammatical mistakes of Carnehan and asking questions to make him organize his words better, the journalist is somehow trying to make sense of Dravot and Carnehan’s adventure and thus “legitimize” the matter. Thus, to a certain extent, the journalist has made the story more convincing than it would have been if the mentally ill Carnehan was the narrator instead.However, since the journalist is not a witness to Dravot and Carnehan’s being Kings in Kafiristan and all the information he has got comes from Carnehan whose “head isn’t as good as it might be” (Kipling, 260-261), the reliability of the story is greatly diminished. Any sense that he has made becomes a “deliberately uncertain “legitimization” of the story” (Shippey and Short, 76). Contrast, for example, between the journalist’s workplace and Kafiristan; between his “skilful, reasonable but no longer entirely self-confident style” (Shippey and Short, 79) and Carnehan’s confusing, grammatical-and-sequential-mistake-filled speech, etc. appear often in the story. This has pointed out “Peachey’s madness” (Shippey and Short, 80), further widening the gap between the two parties. The chance of the journalist misunderstanding Carnehan’s words thus increases.While it is easy for readers to...

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