Day 14: Naive Narrators

Welcome to Day 14 of the A to Z Challenge. For this year’s challenge, I’ll be examining different types of characters that can be found in international fiction. Today I’m looking at naive narrators.

Naive narrators have an innocence about them that contrasts their surroundings. They are literally narrators, whose voice can be heard over the stories and they give us the ability to see a harsh world through innocent eyes.

Two aspects naive narrators tend to have in common are a level of innocence and a weighty environment.

A Level of Innocence

A level of innocence means that in comparison with those in his/her environment, naive narrators haven’t experienced certain aspects of society. Rocket in City of God, for example, smokes weed on the beach with his friends and originally has the goal of seducing someone else’s girlfriend. This wouldn’t be seen as innocent by many, but his virginity along with his non-violent tendencies in his world of gang violence give him a level of innocence from which to tell the story.

Another example of this is Suzu from This Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に). She is so unaware of her environment that she often gets lost. Her lack of knowledge is seen in her absent-mindedness and in the fact that in the world where everyone seems to know where they are going, she often has to ask for directions.

Heavy Worlds

One of the magical qualities of these characters is that they can give us a light view of harsh realities. Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump, for example, brings us into heavy issues like war, amputation, child abuse, and HIV and still manages to leave us feeling light-hearted in the end. Suzu also gives us glimpses into the harsh realities of war and Rocket lightens the load in a world of gang violence and mass murder.

Naive narrators can be found across multiple genres and more often than not, tend to grace stories that have multiple storylines. Other examples of naive narrators are Amelie in Amelie, and Jack in Room.

Can you think of any other stories with naive narrators?

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