Today I was helping my grandson with his homework. He's writing a fictional story about a teacher whose students think he's a lemonade-drinking gnome. I can't actually confirm whether Preston invented this story or borrowed it, as nine-year olds are wont to do.
At any rate, Preston's teacher required that her students identify the point of view in the story they're writing. Mind you, I'm very, very old and have taught high school English many, many years, and POV can be confusing to the best of us.
The interesting thing is that Preston's story is written in the FIFTH PERSON POINT OF VIEW, an impossible task at first blush.However, the idea got me thinking. Who made up this POV stuff? I know for a fact that it's younger than dirt and older than God.
First person -- use of the pronoun "I," narrator telling the story. Second person -- never used, the purists say, because its usage causes the writer to direct address the reader. Apparently that's a bad idea unless you're (oops) Sarah Orne Jewett writing about a white heron. Third -- yeah, yeah, yeah, we all know that one. That's easy.
But fifth? I'm intrigued by the idea. My characters certainly try to run amok, take flight in some -- dare I say it? -- parallel universe, some FIFTH dimension.But what if there were a fifth person POV? Whose POV would it be? The protagonist's The antagonist's? The author's?
Or maybe that other voice, the one that slithers through our subconscious minds, quiet little devil most of the time, until she pops up and demands to be heard. You know the one. She takes us down a path we NEVER intended to go, to heights and depths we NEVER intended. Is she the one who takes us down that divergent road Frost talked about? You know, the one less travelled?
Finally I broke down and asked Preston why he chose fifth person POV. Simple, he said, there are five characters in his story. Like I said, that POV is a damned tricky thing.