Narrator and point of view

The events described in Helen Dunmore’s short story “My Polish Teacher’s Tie” are told by a first-person narrator, who is also the main character of the story. The first-person narrator is Carla Carter, a half-Polish woman who works as a part-time catering assistant in a British school. 

The narrator gives the readers personal information about herself. For instance, she reveals that she is half-Polish and talks about the time when her father forbids her from learning Polish (p. 100, ll. 13-19). She also presents the events as soon as she experiences them. 

The narrator is subjective, offering the readers her opinions about other characters and their behavior. She also offers her own personal interpretation of how other characters would react. For example, she assumes Steve would be hurt when he discovers she is the catering assistant and not a teacher, which is the opposite of what actually happens. She also thinks that Steve would want to stay with the other teachers, although she soon discovers that Steve is actually uncomfortable and cannot connect with the British teachers. 

The narrator is also ironic about some of the characters. When she mentions Valerie Kenward, she ironically describes the woman’s self-importance: “The fuss Valerie Kenward made about having him to stay, you’d think the Pope was coming for a fortnight. I never liked her” (p. 103, ll. 40-41). She is also ironic and critical of the behaviors she notices at school: “Very keen on fairness, we are, here” (p. 100, l. 8).



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