most of the time when we read a story we believe what we are told - or we suspend our belief (as in the case of fantasy/paranormal/scifi/horror). So when Philip Pullman tells us about Lyra and her dæmon, we believe him (and, oh, don’t we want a dæmon of our own). When Stephen King tells us about a town with an invisible dome over it, we believe him, too. And when David Wroblewski offers us a mute hero and his marvelous dogs, we believe him, too. But sometimes, the narrator is not to be trusted.
This is the unreliable narrator. Here are two examples:
Mark Twain/Huckleberry Finn: Well, one thing was dead sure; and that was, Tom Sawyer was in earnest and was actuly [sic] going to help steal that nigger out of slavery. That was the thing that was too many for me. Here was a boy that was respectable, and well brung up; and he had a character to lose; and folks at home that had characters; and he was bright and not leather-headed; and knowing and not ignorant; and not mean, but kind; and yet here he was, without any more pride, or rightness, or feeling, than to stoop to this business, and make himself a shame, and his family a shame, before everybody. I couldn’t understand it, no way at all.
Ken Kelsey/One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: They’re mopping when I come out of the dorm, all three of them sulky and hating everything, the time of day, the place they’re at here, the people they got to work around. When they hate like this, better if they don’t see me. I creep along the wall quiet as dust in my canvas shoes, but they got special sensitive equipment detects my fear and they all look up, all three at once, eyes glittering out of the black faces like the hard glitter of radio tubes out of the back of an old radio.
Can you think of a third example?