Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It Depends on Your POV

     Writers like to debate the relative merits of different POV's (point of views). Is a story best written from a first person, third person, or omniscient POV?  
      On a recent road trip with my husband, we visited Marietta, Ohio where I thought about an entirely different aspect of POV. We found that this charming town is known not only for great pastry,
Creighton enjoying a delicious bear claw. (Yes, he saved me a bite or two!)
but also for its history. It's hard to believe now, but in 1788 it was a frontier town that was the first permanent American settlement in the US Northwestern Territory. Due to it's location across the Ohio River from West Virginia, Marietta was also a key city in the underground railroad as far back as 1812. Scroll down this site to find detailed maps and information. 
     We biked from one historical marker to another, but this one stopped us cold:

     It might be difficult for you to read the inscription, but it says that the monument was "Erected in memory of the soldiers of Washington County, Ohio who lost their lives in the U.S. service in the war for the suppression of the rebellion in 1861." (emphasis mine)
    In the south, you still hear some folks refer to the Civil War as the "War of Northern Aggression."  
    Which is it? 
    My husband's great-great grandfather, Joseph Brown, moved from Leesburg, Va. to Ohio because he was an abolitionist and served as a physician in the Union army. But his family left behind kin in Virginia who became the enemy. Doubtless they had radically different perspectives on the war.
    Affections, loyalties, and life-determining choices are affected by geography, politics, religion, and a host of other socio-economic factors. 
    Does the character you are creating live north of the Mason Dixon Line or south? Does she live on the east side of the Berlin Wall or the west?  Does he live inside or outside the Gaza Strip? Was he born a light-skinned free man or the son of a slave? 
     Was the war between the states a war of aggression or was it the rebellion of 1861?
      I guess it depends on your POV.

War monument, Marietta, Ohio


Anonymous said...

I would have liked to know your husband's great-great-grandfather! I bet there is a book in that history, Carol... and you might be just the person to write it!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

We can use words to make whatever point we want to can't we. And yes, POV makes all the difference in how we perceive things.

I think there would be fewer wars/conflicts if we were better at trying to understand other viewpoints.

Carol Baldwin said...

Donna- Your comment spurred me on to create more backstory for my character's grandfather. Thanks!

Joyce-- Yes, words are very powerful. I thought of POV as I read your blog too. Getting inside another person's skin--seeing life from their POV-- is part of what we do as novelists, isn't it? And yes to your comment about wars & conflicts-- on every level possible.

Jean said...

Very interesting point of view, Carol. Hey, that would make a good name for a new blog, wouldn't it?

Point of View.

Now, what would I put on such a blog....


Carol Baldwin said...

Jean-- What a great name for a blog!!! Good idea. I bet we could think of lots of things to post on that!

Linda A. said...

What do point of view, war, and writing have in common? You showed us Carol. You notice, I didn't say, "You told us."

Good one!

Bonnie J. Doerr said...

Great topic, Carol. Reading novels is a wonderful way to crawl inside the heads of people different from ourselves. A way to understand how and what people think. Then hopefully, to understand why they behave as they do and hold the opinions they do. Reading novels can expand understanding (not the same as agreeing with) others' POVs. Seems understanding is more likely to lead to compromise than to war. So,would extensive novel reading help prevent conflict? Make our congressional leaders cooperate with one another? Let's drop books instead of bombs. New compaign:Books for Congress.

Carol Baldwin said...

Linda and Bonnie, thanks for stopping by my blog. Bonnie-- I think you idea is great! I never thought of how much reading can really stimulate understanding. Makes sense, of course. I think there's another blog in all of this...somewhere!

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