"In the Heat of the Night" by John Ball - Point of View Notes

Essay by AnonymousJunior High, 9th gradeA, December 2006

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The literary point of view used in "In the Heat of the Night" is limited omniscient. The book is written in third person. It is limited omniscient because it gets into the mind of Sam Wood. For example, on page 67, it says, "...he visualized trapping and catching a murderer..." On page 93, "Sam thought carefully for a minute..." And on page 150, it says, "For the first time Sam felt the desire to cooperate." These are just a few examples on how the book gets into the mind of Sam. The book does not only go into the mind of Sam, it also goes into the mind of Bill Gillespie. For instance, on page 104, it says, "He shut his eyes and visualized." Another on page 174, it says, "That, Gillespie thought, should square him with Sam for some time to come." And on page 76, it says, "Gillespie felt much as a student pilot..."

Of course, these are just a few examples and there are many more in the book. Sam, Virgil and Bill Gillespie tells the story. This shapes the story by showing the racist society and that the south had no desire to change the society.

This view is effective because by only revealing the minds of two characters, it keeps the depth and suspense, as well as the feeling/mood of mystery in the story. Also because we know what is going on in Sam and how he feels. By not revealing what is going on in Virgil's mind about who he believes the killer is, for he contributed a lot in the case. This way, the author builds more suspense in the story, because if Virgil's mind was shown, we would know of what's to come and it sometimes makes us wonder about the...