In Lee Martin’s “The Bright Forever”, Martin uses point of view to communicate to the readers in an unique way. He intertwines each of the characters’ stories in order to give a single, well-rounded one. The characters all seem to have a single purpose though, to figure out who murdered little Katie Mackey. This makes it an interesting tale to the reader because the multiple perspectives allow for the reader’s own judgement and assumptions to be challenged. The multiple points of view in the book are the most important aspect of it and without it, the way the reader understands the book would be completely different.
A single, first person point of view gives the reader a chance to experience the life of that one person. Compared to one point of view, the multiple points of view in “The Bright Forever” gives the reader a glimpse into the lives of nearly all of the characters. Each character has a different life and therefore, has a different story to tell on it. Gilley Mackey, Katie’s older brother, is one of the narrators of the book. He gives a deep, personal recollection of what he remembers and how he and his family experiences the events of the story. On the other hand, Katie’s tutor, Mr. Dees has a story that is not as intimately told. This is because he is not exposed to the things that take place in the Mackey household for he is not a part of the family. For example, Gilley says, “We were eating supper. That’s what I remember, the four of us sitting at the table: Mom and Dad and me and Katie.” Only the members of the family were there at that time, so nobody else can tell that part of the story. The events of the household can only be told by a member of the family. If the author were to have Mr. Dees narrate the entire book, the reader would miss out on parts like this.
A person can only put trust in what they hear from others if they were not there to witness an event themselves. Even though this may not be true, there is nothing more that person can do because of the fact they were not there also. This makes the person that tells the story the only point of view, and by default, the correct variation of the story. Since this is often the case, multiple points of view are very useful when telling a story. The multiple points of view let the reader give their own opinion on the story. The acclaimed murderer, Raymond R. doesn’t think that he hurt Katie. He says this, “And I still can’t see anything that involves me in any way in this thing other than the fact that I was a neighbor to Henry Dees.” If Raymond R was the lone narrator, the reader may take this as true because this is the only point of view they encounter. Although, since there are various points of view throughout the book, the reader can use the other points of view to make their opinion more solid. With numerous points of view, the reader has more sources to call on when making an opinion.
The multiple points of view are used in the story to the reader’s advantage. There is never just one side to any story. This is the case in “The Bright Forever” as well. A popular and anonymous quote says, “There are always three sides to a story. Your side, the other person’s side, and the truth.” The perspective for each person is different and is almost always biased too. A person in the wrong can strongly believe that what they are saying is correct. The same goes for the opposing side of the story. If they both claim that they are correct, you can never be sure of who actually is. You can only base your opinion off of both sides because you can never be certain which one is correct. This is the case with “The Bright Forever.” The acclaimed murdered has the mentality that he did not hurt the child, even if everyone else is saying that he did. He believes this and you cannot change his mind because he thinks that he is telling the truth. On the other hand, the victim’s family believes that he is the person who killed her. With all the evidence in the world, or even if they were making false accusations, you cannot change their minds either. The truth is that neither one of the stories may be fully accurate, both being biased to fit their own beliefs.
The point of view in any story can make the whole thing different. When telling a story, people have the option to tell the truth or to tell a lie. Most people tell lies when they are put in a situation that they are trying to get out of. Mr. Dees lies to Gilley so he doesn’t have to answer to Gilley’s parents after sneaking into their house. Mr. Dees says to the reader, “I knew immediately that I could tell him any lie, and he would believe me.” Mr. Dees had the option to tell Gilley the truth and have further questions asked, or tell him a lie to avoid these questions. He chose to do the latter. If Mr. Dees were to tell the truth about his presence in the Mackey house, the whole story would be different. The book may have had a different series of events instead of what actually occurred. To Mr. Dees, the best option was to tell a lie. By telling this lie, he helped himself more than anyone else. To him, he believed that this was the best option. This is how he viewed the situation. To the reader, the decision may have been stupid but to Mr. Dees, he was doing right. His point of view at that time was that he would be in trouble if he didn’t lie, so he lied. If another person was to make a different decision, the whole story would have changed.
The point of view in the story is what makes the reader experience the book in an effective way. The point of view structures the book so that the reader can not only dive into the lives of multiple characters, but use the points of view to create a better opinion on the events that take place in the story. If the book had been written from a singular point of view, the reader would be left without the feelings of some characters. If the story had been written from a complete third person narration, the reader would be left without knowing what goes on in the characters’ minds. The reader has more room for judgement of the events and people in the story because there are various points of view.