A personal narrative is a type of writing that tells a story from the author’s point of view. It typically includes plot, characters, setting, and dialogue-personal descriptions can take many forms, such as memoirs, autobiographies, and personal essays. They are often used to explore personal experiences, reflect on life events, and share insights and lessons learned.
Personal narrative example 1 – Memoir
A memoir is a personal narrative focusing on a specific period or event in the author’s life. It’s a way for the author to reflect on their experiences and share their insights with the reader. Here are some examples of well-known memoirs and what they offer:
- “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls – Walls recounts her unconventional and difficult upbringing with her dysfunctional family. She describes growing up in poverty, constantly moving from place to place, and dealing with her parent’s alcoholism and erratic behavior. Through her memoir, Walls tells her own story and provides insight into the human experience and the resilience of the human spirit.
- “Educated” by Tara Westover – In this memoir, Westover shares her journey from growing up in a strict, isolated family in rural Idaho to eventually earning a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. She details her struggles with her family’s beliefs, lack of formal education, and eventual pursuit of knowledge and independence. Westover’s memoir offers a unique perspective on the power of education and the importance of questioning one’s beliefs.
- “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt – McCourt recounts his childhood growing up in poverty in Ireland during the 1930s and 1940s. He describes the harsh living conditions, his family’s struggles with alcoholism, and his determination to break free from the cycle of poverty. Through his memoir, McCourt offers insight into the human experience of resilience and the importance of perseverance.
- “Hunger” by Roxane Gay – Here, Gay explores her relationship with her body and food and the traumas she has experienced. She discusses her experiences with sexual violence, her struggles with obesity, and her journey toward self-acceptance. Gay’s memoir offers a candid and vulnerable look into the complexities of the human experience and the importance of self-love.
- “Night” by Elie Wiesel – In this memoir, Wiesel describes his experiences as a teenager in a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust. He details the horrors he witnessed, the loss of his family, and the struggle to maintain his humanity in the face of unspeakable atrocities. Through his memoir, Wiesel offers a powerful and haunting look into the darkest depths of the human experience and the resilience of the human spirit.
Overall, memoirs offer a way for the author to reflect on their experiences and share their insights with the reader. They offer a unique perspective on the human experience and can help readers better understand themselves and the world around them.
Personal narrative example 2 – Autobiography
An autobiography is a personal narrative covering a broad range of experiences and events in the author’s life. It is often more comprehensive and chronological than a memoir, providing a more detailed account of the author’s life. Here are some examples of well-known autobiographies and what they offer:
- “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Malcolm X and Alex Haley – In this autobiography, Malcolm X tells the story of his transformation from a criminal to a prominent civil rights leader. He describes his early years, prison time, and involvement in the Nation of Islam. Through his autobiography, Malcolm X offers a unique perspective on the struggle for racial justice in America and the importance of self-education and personal growth.
- “The Story of My Experiments with Truth” by Mahatma Gandhi – In this autobiography, Gandhi reflects on his life and the experiences that shaped his philosophy of nonviolent resistance. He discusses his childhood in India, his struggles with racism in South Africa, and his leadership in the Indian independence movement. Gandhi offers insights into the power of personal integrity and the importance of serving others through his autobiography.
- “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela – In this autobiography, Mandela chronicles his life as a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician. He details his years in prison, his release, and his eventual election as the first black president of South Africa. Through his autobiography, Mandela offers a powerful and inspiring look at the struggle for racial justice and the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation.
- “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou – Angelou reflects on her childhood and adolescence in the American South. She describes the racism and trauma she experienced and her journey toward self-acceptance and self-expression. Angelou’s autobiography offers a powerful and moving account of the human experience and the importance of resilience and perseverance.
- “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah – In this autobiography, Noah shares his experiences growing up in South Africa during and after apartheid. He describes his struggles with racism and poverty and his eventual rise to become a successful comedian and television host. Through his autobiography, Noah offers a candid and humorous look at the complexities of identity and the importance of finding one’s own voice.
Autobiographies offer a comprehensive and detailed look into the author’s life and experiences. They can provide insight into the human experience, as well as inspire and empower readers to overcome their own challenges and pursue their own dreams.
Personal narrative example 3- Essay
A personal essay is a shorter form of personal narrative that typically focuses on a specific topic or theme. It’s a way for the author to share their thoughts and experiences with the reader more concisely and focused. Here are some examples of well-known personal essays and what they offer:
- “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson – In this essay, Emerson argues for the importance of self-reliance and individualism. He encourages readers to trust their instincts and intuition rather than relying on outside influences or conforming to societal norms. Emerson’s essay offers a powerful message of self-empowerment and encourages readers to embrace their own unique perspectives and experiences.
- “Why I Write” by George Orwell – In this essay, Orwell reflects on his motivations for writing and the role of writing in society. He discusses the importance of honesty and clarity in writing and the power of language to shape our thoughts and perceptions. Orwell’s personal essay offers insights into the creative process and the value of self-expression.
- “On Being a Cripple” by Nancy Mairs – In this essay, Mairs reflects on her experiences with multiple sclerosis. She discusses the challenges of living with a disability and its impact on her life and identity. Mairs’ essay offers a candid and insightful look into the complexities of living with a disability and the importance of embracing one’s unique experiences and perspectives.
- “The Fourth State of Matter” by Jo Ann Beard – In this essay, Beard reflects on her experiences working as a graduate student at a physics laboratory and the tragic shooting that occurred there. She weaves personal anecdotes and reflections on science and life to create a powerful and moving narrative. Beard’s personal essay offers a unique perspective on the human experience and how both personal and external events shape our lives.
- “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace – In this essay, Wallace reflects on the ethics of eating lobster and the broader implications of our treatment of animals. He delves into the history and culture of lobster consumption and the scientific and ethical questions surrounding it. Wallace’s personal essay offers a thought-provoking and insightful exploration of the complex issues surrounding food, ethics, and the human experience.
Personal essays allow the author to share their thoughts and experiences more focused and concisely with the reader. They provide a unique perspective on the human experience and can help readers better understand themselves and the world around them.
Personal narratives are powerful and meaningful forms of writing that offer unique insights into the human experience. Whether in the form of a memoir, personal essay, or other type of personal narrative, these works offer a way for authors to reflect on their own experiences and share their perspectives with readers.
By sharing their stories, authors can offer readers new ways of understanding themselves and the world around them. Personal narratives can be both entertaining and enlightening, and can help readers connect with the authors on a deeper level.
Ultimately, personal narratives offer a way for us to better understand the complexities of the human experience and the many ways in which our lives are shaped by our experiences and perspectives. Whether we are reading about someone else’s experiences or sharing our own, personal narratives can be a powerful tool for self-reflection, empathy, and personal growth.