When we refer to voice in literature, we are referring to the author's creation of a specific tone, attitude, and "personality" in the way that the story is told. Often voice is a way to convey something about the narrator of the story. Some discuss voice as two separate things: the author's voice, or style of writing, and a character's voice. Ultimately, the author creates voice in the story, and may choose to change style based on shifts in the narrator or shifts in perspective.
Examples of Voice in Literature:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is narrated by a young girl, Scout, and we see racism and injustice in her small southern town through her eyes. Her voice is particularly strong, as in this excerpt:
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem's fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn't have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.
When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.
I said if he wanted to take a broad view of the thing, it really began with Andrew Jackson. If General Jackson hadn't run the Creeks up the creek, Simon Finch would never have paddled up the Alabama, and where would we be if he hadn't? We were far too old to settle an argument with a fist-fight, so we consulted Atticus. Our father said we were both right.
Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn is also a good example of how authors use voice, as the story is told by Huck Finn.
I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking-thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me, all the time, in the day, and in the nighttime, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a floating along, talking, and singing, and laughing.
Literary Terms Examples