Course Content
Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
About Lesson

Point of View

Point of View can refer to much more than just the perspective from which a story is told. When responding to literature, forming your point of view means using the text to develop a personal opinion on the topic. A huge part of studying literature is forming your point of view, or responding personally to the piece.

In order to be able to form a sound point of view in response to literature, you must be able to analyze the text, which means to break down and examine the individual parts. In addition, you must also be able to synthesize, which means to put all the information together and draw conclusions. In order to form a supported opinion, or point of view, on any topic in literature, you must analyze and synthesize the details and content of the text. The rest of this lesson will describe various activities to help analyze and synthesize literature with a focus on forming your point of view.


Before even beginning to read any type of literature, use pre-reading methods to help you begin to analyze. First of all, scan the text by looking at titles, subtitles, pictures, and illustrations. These things help you to become ready for the topic and allow you to begin forming your opinion.

For example, looking at the cover of the novel A Tale of Two Cities, you will most likely see a picture depicting a fierce battle in dirt streets. Analyzing that picture will tap into your previous experience or opinions of war. Since the story revolves around the French Revolution, your previous views on war will have an effect on the story.

Another pre-reading method can be to create a KWL chart. This chart consists of three columns, the first is ‘K’ for what you ‘know,’ the second is ‘W’ for what you ‘want to know,’ and the last is ‘L’ for what you have ‘learned.’ Fill in the K and W columns before reading the novel. Keep in mind, you will be asked to form your own opinion after the reading, so it is best to include your opinions in these columns.

For example, in the making of a KWL chart for A Tale of Two Cities, add that you believe the French Revolution was beneficial since it allowed a new government to overrule the oppressive monarchy. You can even add in your opinions on the American Revolution, since it similarly brought on a new government to override the English king. This opinion can be revisited after reading is completed when you fill in the L column to see if your opinion has changed. The information on a KWL chart can be used in many ways to form an opinion.

During Reading

It is also important to think about forming your point of view during the reading. Most analysis of literature occurs as you read. You may be able to only synthesize after the reading is complete, but analysis must be a continuous process. You want to be able to break down the plot and story details to store for later use.

The best way to be sure to analyze while you read is to make frequent pauses and write down your thoughts. Using A Tale of Two Cities as an example, a great strategy can be to keep a running chart as you read. On one side, you can add in reasons why the French Revolution needed to happen, and on the other, add in the negative and positive consequences from it. In the end, you can use these thoughts to form your final point of view on the morality of the revolution. These written thoughts can come in a wide variety of forms: a book journal, bulleted lists, study guide questions; all of these will allow you to continuously revisit not only the events of the novel, but also your thoughts on it.

After Reading

Pre-reading and during-reading activities are important, but you shouldn’t form your true point of view until after the reading is finished. Thus, after finished reading A Tale of Two Cities, form your final point of view or perspective on the topic.

For instance, if you made a chart for A Tale of Two Cities during the reading, when you are finished with the novel, consider that chart. Look at each individual thought you analyzed. Use that information to synthesize and try to draw a larger conclusion. If there are more reasons why the revolution was necessary, do you then believe it was the right thing to do? Or do the negative consequences outweigh those reasons? Use the details from the text to support your opinion.

For other opinion questions, you might need to refer to the piece of literature often to determine your point of view. Imagine you have finished reading the novel, and your teacher poses this essay question: ‘Is Charles Darnay, who denounces his title and money because of how his family oppressed the peasants, more noble than Syndey Carton, who sacrifices his life for the woman he loves?’

This is a prompt asking you to form your opinion, but you must use the events in the plot for support. To do so, you need to brainstorm about all the aspects of the two characters. Make a bulleted list, a web, or even a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the two characters. Then, refer to the novel as needed to list all the traits and actions of the two characters. This is the analysis.

After doing so, you must now synthesize. Use your brainstorming to draw a conclusion on which character is more noble. Your conclusion will then be a point of view that is supported by strong evidence.

Lesson Summary

To review, forming a point of view in response to literature can be a difficult task. To do so, you need proper analysis, which is breaking down information into parts, and synthesis, which is putting information together and drawing conclusions.

It is best to use analysis before and during the reading. For pre-reading, scan the piece of literature looking for clues on what the topic will be. Create a KWL chart with your original thoughts and opinions. This can be revisited after the reading is completed to help form a point of view.

During the reading, make notes or charts to keep track of information from the piece of literature. Record characters’ actions and your own thoughts or views. This information will be essential to supporting your point of view after the reading is finished.

Lastly, a true point of view needs to be formed after reading the piece of literature. This is mainly where you synthesize. All the pieces you have analyzed throughout the work need to come together to help you form your opinion. Continue to look back over the literature to find evidence to support your point of view.

If you learn to properly analyze and synthesize, a sound point of view will be easy to form for any piece of literature.

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