New course: First person narrative in That Eye, the Sky

Composite of multiple That Eye the Sky covers

First person narrative is all about subjective description. The narrator has limited information, but unlimited thoughts and opinions, and it’s that combination of elements that makes first person distinctive and compelling.

That Eye, the Sky is a classic coming of age novel by Tim Winton, one of the Australia’s greatest writers. It’s the story of a boy called Ort, living in regional Western Australia, whose father is put into a coma after a car accident, leaving him and his family exposed to the suspect interests of a charismatic stranger.

The opening chapter of the novel has little overt action—Ort says goodbye to his dad, then waits at home for him to return—but it nevertheless feels active and busy. That’s the power of first person subjectivity.

In this sequence of lessons, we track the development of the first chapter, breaking it into chunks and modelling how Winton creates drama and interest purely through point of view.

There are six lessons in the course, each modelling a section of the chapter:

That Eye The Sky lessons

What narrative text features do we cover?

We look at techniques such as enriching objective details with subjective expansions, using modal verbs to indicate limited knowledge, making judgments to add layers of information, and building tension by raising a question and then witholding the answer while the narrator focuses on extraneous details.

And more! There’s a lot packed into this course.

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for senior high school students, around grade 11 or 12. It could work for younger years with some support. The lessons feature two example rewrites, one of which is a contemporary story about bike couriers in Nairobi, and another is a variation on Little Red Riding Hood, which provide accessible scaffolding for students.

Example snippet (from Lesson 3: Sounds of the night)

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Example model response

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This course shows students how to leverage the intrinsic features of first person narrative to create a rich, compelling and emotional story that provides an insight into the narrator and their world view.