35 pages 1 hour read

Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again, Yes

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2019

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Symbols & Motifs

Shifting Perspectives

Rather than choosing the limited first-person perspective of a single character, or an omniscient third person narration, Ask Again, Yes seamlessly shifts perspective from one character to another. Francis, Brian, Anne, Lena, Peter, and Kate each take turns as narrators. No single perspective dominates the entire novel; the characters collectively create the story. Like a camera crew in a documentary, the story follows each character for a time, staying within one frame of reference and then shifting away.

In addition to framing the novel’s structure, shifting perspective serves a clear thematic purpose. By offering each character’s point of view, Keane invites the reader to extend empathy to all characters and compels the story to be a joint effort; reading only the parts dominated by Anne, for example, would not offer the full story of these families. By allowing each perspective to have both integrity and importance, Keane uses structure to symbolize the need for people, as co-creators of one another’s stories, to come together, defy boundaries, and overcome obstacles along their way to affirmation and redemption.