Second Person POV

The 2nd Person is better used in the short story arena. It might become overbearing in a novel of 50,000 words or more.

In this point of view the protagonist is the reader of sorts, but a more pleasant approach would be the Second Person Interior, where events are so personal that the protagonist of the story can only admit them to themselves.

1st Person                                   2nd Person                                      3rd Person

My, I, Mine                                    You, Your                                        He, She, They

The Short Story ‘Forever Overhead,’ by David Foster Wallace uses 2nd Person, but the use of the Pronoun is excessive. Perhaps it was deliberate but 2.5 pronouns every line is a little much. For example I quote the first three paragraphs:

Happy Birthday. Your thirteenth is important. Maybe your first really public day. Your thirteenth is the chance for people to recognize that important things are happening to you.

Things have been happening to you for the past half year. You have seven hairs in your left armpit now. Twelve in your right. Hard dangerous spirals of brittle black hair. Crunchy, animal hair. There are now more of the hard-curled hairs around your privates than you can count without losing track. Other things. Your voice is rich and scratchy and moves between octaves without any warning. Your face has begun to get shiny when you don’t wash it. And two weeks of a deep and frightening ache this past spring left you with something dropped down from inside: your sack is now full and vulnerable, a commodity to be protected. Hefted and strapped in tight supporters that stripe your buttocks red. You have grown into a new fragility.

And dreams. For months there have been dreams like nothing before: moist and busy and distant, full of yielding curves, frantic pistons, warmth and a great falling; and you have awakened through fluttering lids to a rush and a gush and a toe-curling scalp-snapping jolt of a feeling from an inside deeper than you knew you had, spasms of a deep sweet hurt, the streetlights though your window blinds cracking into sharp stars against the black bedroom ceiling, and on you a dense white jam that lisps between legs, trickles and sticks, cools on you, hardens and clears until there is nothing but gnarled knots of pale solid animal hair in the morning shower, and in the wet tangle a clean sweet smell you can’t believe comes from anything you made inside you.

The use of pronouns can be omitted, not completely, but drastically reduced. Turning 289 words with 26 pronouns into 5.  The 2nd Person is merely instructions. My edited version (If it was deliberate, I apologise to David Foster Wallace profoundly for my diatribe):

Happy Birthday. Your thirteenth is important. The first really public day. The thirteenth is the chance for people to recognize that significant things are happening.

Things have been happening for the past half-year. Seven hairs in the left armpit now. Twelve in the right. Hard dangerous spirals of brittle black hair. Crunchy, animal hair. There are now more of the hard-curled hairs around the privates than you can count without losing track. Other things. Voice is rich and scratchy and moves between octaves without any warning. The face has begun to get shiny when you don’t wash it. And two weeks of a deep and frightening ache this past spring that left something dropped down from inside: sack is now full and vulnerable, a commodity to be protected. Hefted and strapped in tight supporters that stripe your buttocks red. Grown into a new fragility.

And dreams. For months there have been dreams like nothing before: moist and busy and distant, full of yielding curves, frantic pistons, warmth and a great falling; awakened through fluttering lids to a rush and a gush and a toe-curling scalp-snapping jolt of a feeling from an inside deeper, spasms of a deep sweet hurt, the streetlights though the window blinds cracking into sharp stars against the black bedroom ceiling, a dense white jam that lisps between legs, trickles and sticks, cools, hardens and clears until there is nothing but gnarled knots of pale solid animal hair in the morning shower, and in the wet tangle a clean sweet smell that can’t be believed comes from anything made inside yourself.

 

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