What Is Second Person Narration?

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The second person narrative is a style of fiction writing which addresses the main character in the form of a personal pronoun (usually “you”). Unlike the first person narrative where the main character describes the story; the second person narrative describes the story as if speaking to the main character. This particular style allows readers to assume the main character’s identity, since it reads as if they are being addressed.

Addressing the Reader

  • The second person narration reads as if a secondary character is addressing the reader as the main character. For example, a second person narration may read: “As you and I looked up the hill we knew it would be a tough climb. You looked at me and said, ‘Come on kid, let’s go.’”

Use of “You”

  • Second person narration is heavily inundated with the use of the personal pronoun “you” in a narrative manner opposed to a communicative one. For instance, a first person narration may read: “Suddenly, I yelled out to the boy, “Hey you. Get out of the road!’” But a second person narration would read: “Suddenly you yelled out to the boy, “Hey you. Get out of the road!’” In the second example the first “you” is the main character.

The Narrated “You”

  • In a second person narration, “you” overwhelmingly refers to the protagonist—as if the main character had no recollection of his actions and was being told a recounting of what he did.

Sequence of Events

  • The personal pronoun “you” is used as a catalyst to drive the plot of the story forward. This trait is similar to first person narration in that if the main character isn’t there, the story stalls.

The Representative “You”

  • Unlike other forms of narration which use “you” as a component of dialogue, the second person narration uses “you” in a representative fashion. In a sense, you (the reader) are the main character.

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