Getting to find the appropriate voice to use for a character can be a challenging task particularly when that person is of another race. However, Sue Monk Kidd in her novel Invention of Wings manages to tell her story in the first person by alternating between the varying viewpoints and the perspectives held by the two main characters Sarah and Handful. By using this approach, Sue manages to create an unforgettable character in Handful. There are three main objectives for using the first person approach in presenting the ideas of the characters.
To begin with, using the first person allows both Sarah and Handful to tell the stories of their lives from their experiences since they are the individuals involved in the unfolding life events. It enables the reader to follow the events that mark their unlikely friendship that is characterized by both resentment and respect from the time they were still young to the point where they are in their middle ages. Concurrently, the use of first person narrative approach builds on the storytelling technique since it helps in giving the reader a deeper look and understanding regarding the experiences of both Sara and Handful as this information is received firsthand from the narrators. Receiving information firsthand eliminates the need for a third person narrator which in some cases may interfere with the readers feelings and attitudes towards the personal thoughts of the characters.
Equally, by using first person narrative, Sue offers a platform for the two women to express their experiences at a time when such privileges were limited. Both Sarah and Handful are given the opportunity to tell their stories in a period when women had lesser chances of having their voices heard. It further explains the type of environment that the two women were brought up in.
On the other hand, the major conflict that Sarah and Handful faces are as a result of inequality. From their childhood days, Sarah and Handful get to understand their surrounding as they grow up. Sarahs ambition of becoming an educated lawyer just like his brother are thwarted as she realizes that the society she is in still considers some positions to be masculine. She faces a lot of opposition as she gets a lot of criticism for not being dedicated to the traditional practices that the women were engaged in at the time. For instance, she is publicly condemned for not being married. The general view of the society negatively affects her reputation thereby undermining her beliefs.
In the same manner, Handful realizes that she faces an unfair situation due to her skin color. Being the child of a slave, she grew up in an environment with unfair treatment of those she knew. For instance, despite her mothers efforts and hard labor, she would still be beaten by her masters. Handfuls significant discovery is the fact that she was not equal to Sarah, but she was her property. Due to Handful's state, she continuously discovers the disparity in the society she lives. Handful joins her mothers efforts to condemn the oppressive environment by engaging in acts such as breaking household objects. Later on, Handful decides to become one of the Quaker ministers to take some time away from her family due to the ever increasing disparity in the society. Sarah and Handful both face a lot of frustrations resulting from the inequalities in the society, and they continuously seek ways to escape this societal reality.
As can be seen, Sue Monk manages to use the first person narrative to clearly make the viewpoints of the main characters easily understandable to the readers while at the same time building on the characters. Further, both Handful and Sarah experiences moments of inequality in their lives which further helps in defining their actions.
Kidd, Sue M. The Invention of Wings. , 2014. Print.
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