Monday, June 17, 2013

Lonely on the Mountain, part 3


Now, years later and far out on the grass prairie, I was remembering and wondering what I could do that I hadn't done.

No matter which way you looked between you and anywhere else, there was a thousand miles of grass--- and the Sioux.

The Sioux hadn't come upon us yet, but they were about, and every man-jack of us knew it. It could be they hadn't cut our sign yet, but cut it they would, and when they did, they would come for us.

Lonely on the Mountain
Louis L'Amour
1980

This is the third installment of the beginning of Lonely on the Mountain, a western by Louis L'Amour, one of the most popular of American writers.

At this point the first-person narrator, Tell Sackett, brings us from his memory of troubled times of the past to the troubles of the present. He's out on the prairie--- we later learn his mission is to drive a herd of cattle to another Sackett in Canada--- and he is going through Sioux Indian territory--- and the Sioux are not feeling peaceable.

Putting the three sections of the beginning together, what most impresses me is the strong voice of his character. This is essential when you are using a first-person narrator. Such a narrator must show forth his personality and his individuality in the way he speaks. A bland first-person narrator just will not do.

Another interesting thing about 'Lonely on the Mountain'. The first section is first-person POV will Tell Sackett as the POV character. The next section is third-person POV with another member of the Sackett family as the POV character. He keeps hearing that Tell and the others on the cattle drive were killed by Indians. Later in the novel when Tell Sackett is found, we return to his first-person POV.

While this is not a common way of handling point-of-view in a novel, it works very well. Of course, L'Amour was a very experienced writer when he did it.


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