Session Five Handout

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Session Five: Third-Person Narrative Assignment

Write a story about an incident from your life using the perspective of an outside viewer. You can be the main character in the story as seen by an omniscient (all-knowing) narrator, or as seen by someone else.

For example, a third-person narrative about my life might sound something like:

The young girl sat still on the piano bench, concentrating on the piece that she would play within the next few seconds.

When I saw Kate just sitting on the piano bench with her eyes closed, I was sure she had forgotten the piece.

As you write (at least two pages), keep in mind the narrator’s point of view. Does the narrator know what your characters are thinking (omniscient point of view)? Does the narrator only know what the main character is thinking and feeling?

Sample of assignment

Ann’s Nursing Career 

         Ann surprised her head mistress upon telling her that she, in fact, had already applied to college nursing programs. Mrs. Smith, a small framed, gray haired woman doubling as head mistress and guidance counselor at the prep school Ann had attended the past four years exclaimed, "I thought you would major in something having to do with mathematics. Are you sure you want to become a nurse?"

         Ann nodded affirmatively and replied, "Yes, that is what I've always wanted."

         Neither were aware that Ann's maternal grandmother, aunt, mother and sister expected Ann to become a nurse, as they all were nurses themselves. Also, Ann's parents ran a medical facility for handicapped children. Ann just assumed from a young age that nursing was her chosen field.

         Upon admittance to college, Ann launched her nursing education. Skidmore had a four-year college program to become a registered nurse. The first and last years were on campus while the second and third years, plus the summer between, were spent nursing at the local hospital.

         The first year on campus went well. Ann had to take courses such as anatomy and physiology, chemistry and the history of nursing. The second year was very different. Ann had a rude awakening. She had lived in a town of 1600 people in and attended college for one year in another small town. The campus dorms were the homes of past residents sprinkled throughout the town, and now she was living on the 17th floor of a high-rise in the city. Not only were her living quarters different than what she had been used to but she also had to walk ten blocks of city streets to get to the hospital. Nursing began to be a challenge to Ann as she had difficulty adjusting to her new environment plus she was not excited by pharmacology and statistics, two of her courses. Besides that, her first rotation at the hospital was “Female Medicine.” That rotation was the pits. After she completed “Female Medicine,” she was assigned to “Male Surgery,” which was a little better. After that, she was sent to “Pediatrics.” However, in the spring, her assignment led her back to “Female Medicine.”

         In those days, the 1950's, most patients who were terminal were not told.   While on “Female Medicine,” Ann's assignment included a woman who was convinced she was getting better and would walk out of the hospital healed. The doctor's orders as well as the hospital's policy directed all nurses and student nurses to pretend that she would be cured. Ann felt she was lying by her silence and quiet agreement with her patient.

         The next assignment, a dying woman with numerous bedsores and suctioning needs really upset Ann. Most assignments were the same for two or three days in a row. Ann decided, after the first day, that if she were given the same assignment the following day, she would feign illness and go back to her room in the high-rise. Fortunately, Ann's supervisor noted the situation and reassigned this woman to another student. Ann sighed, "What a relief."

         During that day, Miss Knoll, the supervisor, called Ann into her office and asked, "Do you want to be a nurse?"

         Ann responded emphatically, "No."

        "I thought not." Miss Knoll said.

         Ann explained, "During Christmas break I told my parents that I had made a mistake and did not want to be a nurse. They insisted that before I made any rash decisions about switching my major, I should stick out this year."

         "Why don't you call them now and if need be, I will talk with them," Miss Knoll said.

         Ann called. After some discussion, her parents, very unhappily, said it was okay to drop out of nursing and switch to another major. Miss Knoll did not have to speak to them. That was the end of Ann's nursing career.