Autodiegetic narrator characteristics and examples

Autodiegetic storyteller

The autodiegetic narrator is one of the types of narrators that are used in literature . It is a style little used due to its technical difficulty. Its main characteristic is that it is a character who has participated in the story , although it is told using the second person (you, you, you or you).

In literature, a narrator is defined as the voice that tells the story, regardless of whether it is a character in it or not. Through his narration, the development of the plot is known, as well as its protagonists. For that reason, it is a key element in any literary genre.

There are different types of storytellers depending on their characteristics. The most common are those that tell the story in the first person and those that narrate it in the third person. Likewise, they are also divided according to the relationship they have with what is narrated.

In the case of autodiegetic narrators, many of their characteristics are the same as those of intradiegetic narrators, who normally tell their own story in the first person. Their main difference is that self-dieters use the second person . In addition, it is frequent that they unfold their personality.

Characteristics of the autodiegetic narrator

The autodiegetic narrator shares many characteristics with the intradiegetic narrator. Thus, in both cases it is usual that he tells his own story.

It is usually little used

Although it is a type of narration that favors complicity with the reader, it is one of the least used modalities, since it has a fairly high technical complexity. This is due to the difficulty of maintaining attention when using the second person.

Brings intensity to the story 

On the other hand, its main advantage is the strength and intensity it brings to the story by addressing the reader in a more direct way. This means that in stories that have other types of narrators, sometimes a fragment is introduced in which the second person reigns.

Variants of using the second person

This type of storyteller can take on various roles in plays. Thus, it is sometimes addressed directly to the reader, as is the case at the beginning of The Catcher in the Rye, written by JD Salinger.

Similarly, you can also use the second person to address other characters, as in Five Hours with Mario , by Miguel Delibes. Similarly, the narrator sometimes talks to himself, in a kind of interior monologue.

Personality split

One possibility when using a self-diagnosing storyteller is that he or she unfolds his personality. In those cases, his role as a narrator is combined with that of a character in the play.

Second person

The use of the second person by the narrator (you, you, you, you, etc.) does not prevent it from being included as part of the story or even starring in it. With this resource the narrator is able to relate personal events or describe his own way of thinking.

However, the difficulty of doing so is one of the main reasons why it is a little used type of storyteller.

Uses of the autodiegetic narrator 

This kind of storyteller is often the protagonist of the story. The use of the second person allows to reflect the character‘s own values ​​in a subjective way, since it is part of the events. In that case, the reader becomes a kind of spectator of a conversation in which only one person participates.

Some authors, such as Mario Vargas Llosa, affirm that this type of narrator has an ambiguous character. The cause, according to the Peruvian writer, is that many times it is not possible to know with certainty if it is inside or outside of history.

On the other hand, some experts maintain that the autodiegetic narrator expands the possibilities of creating tension and suspense, especially when writing in the present tense. Finally, it is a resource that facilitates dialogues.

Possibility of appeal to the reader

Another of the most distinctive characteristics of this type of narrator is that it offers the author the possibility of addressing the reader directly.

A very clear example of this technique is the beginning of an Italian novel in which the author introduces himself and says the title of the book: “You are about to start reading If a winter night is a traveler , by Italo Calvino. Just relax. Concentrate. Leave any other idea behind you. Let the world around you fade into the indistinct ”.


Let’s look at examples in which the autodiegetic narrator is used :

Aura (Carlos Fuentes)

“You pick up your portfolio and leave the tip. You think that another young historian, in conditions similar to yours, has already read that same ad, taken the lead, occupied the post. You try to forget as you walk around the corner. You wait for the bus, you light a cigarette, you silently repeat the dates that you must memorize so that those sleepy children will respect you ”.

  • In this fragment, the author uses the second person to narrate the character‘s experiences. One of the advantages is the possibility of entering the protagonist’s thinking in a totally subjective way.

If one winter night a traveler (Italo Calvino) 

“Not that you expect anything particular from this particular book. You are someone who in principle no longer expects anything from anything. There are many, younger than you or less young, who come expecting extraordinary experiences; in books, people, trips, events, in what tomorrow holds for you. You do not. You know that the best to hope for is to avoid the worst. This is the conclusion you have reached, both in personal life and in general matters and even in world affairs ”.

  • In this case, Calvino takes advantage of the possibilities that the autodiegetic narrator gives him to delve into the thoughts of the character.

Letter to a young lady in Paris (Julio Cortázar)

“You know why I came to your house, to your quiet room requested at noon. Everything seems so natural, as always when the truth is not known. You have gone to Paris, I stayed with the department on Suipacha Street, we drew up a simple and satisfactory plan for mutual coexistence until September brings you back to Buenos Aires ”.

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