It is argued that in internal focalization (e.g., interior monologue or internal sensory perception), the present tense serves to establish a seemingly direct, unmediated link with a character's mind. In reports of actions, too, the present tense may have this effect of providing a link with a character's mind, in the sense that an action reported by the narrator in the present tense may be taken to be internally focalized by the character performing the action. Expressing awareness on the character's part of the action being performed, this type of internal focalization is called Internal Focalization of Awareness (IFA). IFA is found in homodiegetic as well as heterodiegetic texts, whether they feature the present tense throughout or exhibit tense alternation. It is further argued that in all forms of internal focalization, including IFA, the present tense tends to be used in situations that are emotionally important to the focalizing character.
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Theo Damsteegt; The Present Tense and Internal Focalization of Awareness. Poetics Today 1 March 2005; 26 (1): 39–78. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-26-1-39
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