June 28, 2011
Jahn also gives another standard by which to classify narrators:
A text is homodiegetic if among its story-related action sentences there are some that contain first-person pronouns (I did this; I saw this; this was what happened to me), indicating that the narrator was at least a witness to the events depicted; a text is heterodiegetic if all of its story-related action sentences are third-person sentences (She did this, this was what happened to him)” (N1.11).
This refers back to the first distinction we made in Blog #12 between the narrators of Jane Eyre and of Don Quixote. Jane is a homodiegetic narrator, because she acts as a character in the story, influencing the events that take place. The narrator of Don Quixote is a heterodiegetic narrator for the most part, because he exists on a plane outside of the action: he tells us what Don Quixote and Sancho did, but he does not act as a character in the story or influence the events. However, I say that he is a heterodiegetic narrator “for the most part” because this classification can and does change (as we will see) in different parts of the story: a narrator may be heterodiegetic in some parts of a narrative and homodiegetic in other parts.