Point of View in ‘Little Things’ by Raymond Carver
Raymond’s ‘Little Things’ is a very short but interesting story that draws our attention to the problems couples may face in their marital life. It narrates an incidence of a quarrel between a husband and a wife that escalates to the point that it reaches the child and the couple is portrayed fighting for the possession of the baby. Now each parent is pulling on an arm causing him symbolic physical injury;”he felt the baby slipping out of his hands and he pulled back very hard”.
From a narrative point of view, Raymond Carver uses in this story a third person narrator; an objective narrator, who relates information that is easily visible. The narrator in fact remains outside the actions of the story, seemingly neutral . I mean characters stand out more in the story rather than the narrator describes their situations. The narrator cannot tell us about the characters’ thoughts or feelings(through the whole story there is no explicit description of feelings or thoughts, but only actions are reported to us).
This is in fact like a camera eye, just like watching a movie where the only information you get is what you can see or hear. It is quite important as well to notice here that there is no moving backward or forward of actions or thoughts as the narrator consciously chooses not to raise his voice. The only voices we hear in this part of the story are the voices of the characters.
Not bearing in mind of course the first paragraph of the original story where the narrator’s voice is raised to make symbolic comments on his character’s moral dilemma, like saying for instance: “But it was getting dark on the inside too”, it is not surprising, that Carver enshrouds their violence in darkness, as their struggle threatens , most important, to tear the infant apart. It is through the unraised voice, indeed, that we are told a lot about situations that many people can find themselves in( and Carver himself was one of them).
We are invited in ‘Little Things’ to create and develop our own rationale for the actions of the characters and the consequent results, for a big part of the narrative may take place beneath the surface. It is from beneath the surface, indeed ,that Carver creates a powerful sense in us of man’s lack of communication ,and exhibition of selfishness, of the harm couples can cause to their children in such an unfortunate situation , and of Carver’s suggestion that a warm and emotional argument between a couple will quickly reach a logical and peaceful end..
Surely not our characters’ end where ‘the issue was decided’ . We do not know in fact which issue was decided, is it the separation itself? , the baby’s injury? , or even his death? .We surely know, however, it is akin to the pure ‘snow’ , ‘melting into dirty water’, as mentioned in the beginning of the story.