In the first person point of view, the narrator is a character in the story, dictating events from their perspective using "I" or "we."
First person narration allows you to "get personal" with your audience. It's as if one of the characters is speaking directly to his or her audience; we're able to listen in on their thoughts. The audience will understand how the narrator is feeling and how he or she interprets the events taking place around them.
Different Types of Narrator as Character
From: CDS Patriots.org
NPR's John Ydstie interviews Markus Zusak:
YDSTIE: What made you decide to have Death himself, or Death itself, narrate this story?
Mr. ZUSAK: Well, I thought I'm writing a book about war, and there's that old adage that war and death are best friends, but once you start with that idea, then I thought, well, what if it's not quite like that? Then I thought what if death is more like thinking, well, war is like the boss at your shoulder, constantly wanting more, wanting more, wanting more, and then that gave me the idea that Death is weary, he's fatigued, and he's haunted by what he sees humans do to each other because he's on hand for all of our great miseries.
YDSTIE: As Death introduces himself at the beginning of the book, it's some of the most wonderful and evocative writing, I think, in the book, and I wonder if you would read something from page four for us.
Mr. ZUSAK: (Reading) I could introduce myself properly, but it's not really necessary. You'll know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables. It suffices to say that at some point in time I'll be standing over you. As genially as possible your soul will be in my arms (unintelligible) will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away.
At that moment, you'll be lying there. I rarely find people standing up. You'll be caked in your own body. There might be a discovery, a scream will dribble down the air. The only sound I'll hear after that will be my own breathing and a sound of the smell of my footsteps.
The question is what color will everything be at that moment when I come for you? What will the sky be saying? Personally, I like a chocolate-colored sky, dark, dark chocolate.
An unreliable narrator is an untrustworthy storyteller, most often used with 'narrator as character' stories in the first person. The unreliable narrator is either deliberately deceptive or unintentionally misguided, forcing the reader to question their credibility as a storyteller.
Types of Unreliable Narrator
NOTE: Nick Carraway in 'The Great Gatsby' is a mixture of several types of unreliable narrator. In some ways he's an outsider, biassed by his friendship with Gatsby. As well, sometimes he's slow-thinking and naiive, and sometimes he has a minor problem with dishonesty and obscuring the truth.
Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby’s sort-of friend, is the perfect mournfully sardonic narrator for one of American literature’s most enduring novels. The supposedly innocent bystander; the less charismatic best friend; the hapless fan or scholar whose own life recedes in the shadow of their subject of adoration is a popular narrative form.
From: Publisher's Weekly
The Catcher in the Rye will be remembered as one of the most intriguing stories of all time. It uses first person narration to relay some of the teenage angst most of us experience. Here's a glimpse at how the main character, Holden, feels:
Where I want to start telling is the day I left Pencey Prep. Pencey Prep is this school that's in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. You probably heard of it. You've probably seen the ads, anyway. They advertise in about a thousand magazines, always showing some hotshot guy on a horse jumping over a fence.
It's worth mentioning the concept of reliable versus unreliable narration (A narrating character or storyteller in a literary or other artistic work - such who provides inaccurate, misleading, conflicting or otherwise questionable information to the reader or audience at this point. Some might say Holden Caulfield is not a reliable narrator because he's far from objective. He seems increasingly jaded about the world around him. You'll note a lot of sarcasm with underlying waves of anger in his retelling of the story of his life.
Turns out (spoiler alert) he's retelling these events from a mental facility, making his recounting utterly unreliable. Others would most likely have a different version of the events Holden lays out.
From: Examples of Narration
Given the title, you'd think Sherlock Holmes was told from Holmes' perspective. Arthur Conan Doyle chose a different approach. Holmes' sidekick, Dr. John Watson, is actually the one engaging in first person narration.
From A Scandal in Bohemia:
I had seen little of Holmes lately. My marriage had drifted us away from each other. My own complete happiness, and the home-centred interests which rise up around the man who first finds himself master of his own establishment, were sufficient to absorb all my attention, while Holmes, who loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul, remained in our lodgings in Baker Street, buried among his old books, and alternating from week to week between cocaine and ambition, the drowsiness of the drug, and the fierce energy of his own keen nature.
From: Examples of Narration
Detective fiction has a long tradition of an Average Joe narrator who relates the adventures of a whimsical genius investigator—a tradition that goes all the way back to the mystery genre’s inception with Edgar Allan Poe’s Auguste Dupin stories and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. With The Name of the Rose (1980), Eco offers a hyper-intellectual pastiche of that archetype with a murder mystery set in a 14th century Italian convent in which a bumbling Benedictine novice, Adso, describes the crime-solving antics of his master, a monk named William of Baskerville.
From: Publisher's Weekly