The Smell of Apples

Marcus: A First-person Perspective and Naive Narrator. College

In the novel The Smell of Apples, written by Mark Behr, Behr uses a first-person perspective through the main character Marnus, an eleven year old boy. The book uses a first-person narration, through Marnus, to relay both the events of when he is older and fighting as a soldier in the war and the current events of his life in 1973 as an eleven year old boy. As he narrates his life as an eleven year old he is what Daniel Lehman calls a ‘naive narrator.’

A ‘naive narrator’ is when the narrator of the story is a child or young adult, who is immature in his thinking and relaying of events. The narrator is often easily influenced by those around him and their thoughts and the way in which they speak or narrate often shows the opinions and influences of the other characters around them.

Marnus is a naive narrator because he is often influenced by his parent’s views on race, a controversial topic in South Africa at the time, and Behr uses Marnus’ narration to both reveal and criticize racial stereotyping in the novel. Both Marnus’ mother, Leonore, and father, Johan, are racist, viewing coloureds and blacks as less than them and they project these views onto Marnus and his sister, Ilse. Therefore, we can see these racial stereotypes in...

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