Story of Your Life
The Use of Point of View to Promote Estrangement in “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang and “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes College
The concept of estrangement is important in categorizing science fiction writings as part of this genre, as Darko Suvin coined science fiction the “literature of cognitive estrangement” in 1979. This theory of estrangement was influenced by the Russian Formalism notion of ostranenie, as well as Bertolt Brecht’s notion of V-effekts (Overview: Cognitive Estrangement), and similar to these, estrangement in science fiction is an attempt to defamiliarize or alienate, which creates a very specific atmosphere. “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang and “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes both contain various methods of estrangement, although some of the most effective are demonstrated through each of the individual protagonists’ point of view.
Point of view is a critical way through which to promote estrangement, because in fictional stories, all of the settings, additional characters and actions are coloured by the personality and thoughts of the main character. This is especially true for first-person perspectives, in which both “Story of Your Life” and “Flowers for Algernon” are primarily written. The ways in which details are perceived by the characters can cause estrangement in two principal ways: first, if a novum, or entirely...
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