The Power of Point of View

Toward Further Clarification of the Ideological (or Evaluative) Plane of Point of View (part 2)

tannehill photo - cropped - 2by ROBERT TANNEHILL   In this post, Gary Yamasaki rightly points out that ideological point of view cannot be reduced to theological belief, and that the ideological plane is more complex than the other planes. However, it would have been helpful to add the reason for that complexity: all the other planes contribute to the ideological plane, which can only be approached through studying the writing as a whole. To be sure, we can speak of multiple ideological planes, for each of the main characters may have his or her evaluative perspective, and the plot develops through the conflict among them. However, I am referring to the ideological (or better, evaluative) plane of the implied author, revealed by the work as a whole.

Yamasaki says that the storyteller positions “an audience within the ideological matrix of one character.” That is not necessarily the case. The story might relate the interactions of several characters, each with valid insights (according to the implied author) and also with blind spots. In the Gospels, to be sure, we do have a central character who is presented as authoritative and especially insightful–the implied author’s “reliable” character. Yet the implied author might be affirming views that extend beyond what Jesus says and does.

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4 Responses »

  1. Can you give an example? I work better with something “concrete” to get my mental teeth into 😉

    • An example of a story which affirms valid insights from the perspectives of two different characters is the movie “Brave,” in which the rebellious teenager and the distraught Mother are both presented positively and a final reconciliation is achieved.

  2. O.K. Take Acts 10, the story of Peter and Cornelius, as an example. Cornelius, even though he is a Roman centurion and a Gentile, is presented in a remarkably positive way. He is a pious worshiper of God. Peter has been the leading character in Acts so far. He is the church’s leader and a bold preacher who can interpret the Jesus events in light of Scripture. But they both lack something. Cornelius lacks access to the Gospel and lacks the affirmation that he and other Gentiles are included. Peter lacks awareness that he is free to associate with Gentiles in order to affirm that the Gospel is for them also. It is only as divine guidance brings them together that these lacks are overcome. So we have two characters with positive qualities but also something lacking. Divine guidance brings them together so that each can supply the other’s lack.

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