Narrators Gone Wild

Let’s talk about a classic class topic: unreliable narrators. This week, I’ve got an entire course centered around narrator unreliability. Along with the usual examples that teachers use to demonstrate unreliability, I’ve included a few more modern and unexpected reads. Do you trust that these titles will be good? (I know. Hold your applause.)


Narrators Gone Wild 

Unit I: Thinking Differently (9 weeks)

Texts: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Unit II: Age of Innocence (6 weeks)

Texts: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Room by Emma Donoghue

Unit III: What’s Reality? (3 weeks)

Texts: Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Time’s Arrow  by Martin Amis

Questions: Why don’t we trust the narrator? How much do we need to trust the narrator in order to read the story? How does the narrator cultivate trust? What is truth? Does something need to be true outside of the narrator’s reality in order to be true in the novel? Do value judgments need truth behind them? How do the narrators struggle in their reality? What effect does unreliability have on the novel?


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