A third kind of work accomplished by autobiographical narratives, generally, and literacy narratives, more specifically, focuses on representation as a form of personal agency. In some cases, for example, storytellers use narratives to “construct their life stories against the grain of accepted patterns,” resisting oppression and foregrounding “alternative directions for their own and others’ lives” (Wortham, 2000, p. 164).

In terms of narrative structure, an important part of the power of narrative can be located in what Jerome Bruner (1994) has identified as “turning points” (p. 42).These characteristic narrative moments represent times when “people report sharp change in their lives and demonstrate accompanying dramatic changes in their representations of self” (Hull and Katz, 2005, p. 45). This moment in autobiographical narratives is so commonly referenced that it is a “canonical form” (Bruner, 1994, p. 42). Turning points are characterized by “vivid detail and great affect, a connection between external events and internal awakenings, and agentive activity” (Hull and Katz, 2005, p. 45). Because turning points are so “thickly agentive” (Bruner, 1994, p. 50), they serve the function of helping an individual clarify authors' understanding of themselves and their actions.

<<..... >>

There are are two possible interpretations of what the term narrative implies….The first, more simplistic reading implies that narratives—particularly those of personal experience—are representations of something that once happened and what this past happening meant (or “now” means) to the narrator. The second, more indirect reading requires the act of telling—or “representing” at a particular occasion in the form of a particular story—to intervene, so to speak, between the actual experience and the story.

(Bamberg, 1997, p. 335)

...[A]utobiography can be conceived “politically.” One knows that one's life is similar to that of a thousand others, but through “chance” it has had opportunities that the thousand others in reality could not or did not have. By narrating it, one creates this possibility, suggests the process, indicates the opening.

(Gramsci, 1985, p. 132).