Who is the You?: Second-Person Voicing as Resistance in Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen Restricted; Files Only

Shin, Courtney (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/kh04dq79r?locale=en
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Abstract

In this thesis, I aim to analyze how and why Jamaica Kincaid and Claudia Rankine use the second-person voice in A Small Place and Citizen respectively. The critic Brian Richardson claims the second-person voice inspires an “ontological instability” in the reader, held in the space when the addressed “you” and the reader’s “I” overlap. Regardless of the level of familiarity between the reader and the second-person, the nature of the address itself amplifies a reader engagement. In this project, I argue that in A Small Place and Citizen, this engagement fosters a nearness between reader and text which consequently challenges a discourse that isolates colonization and racism to a specific time, a specific space, and a specific demographic. Across chapters analyzing the second-person “you,” the first-person “I,” and the possessive plural “we,” I attempt to analyze how Kincaid and Rankine’s use of the second-person voice illuminates how the space of the address complicates the very questions of otherness which root the institutional, systemic problems addressed in both their texts. 

Table of Contents

I. Introduction…………………… 1

II. Chapter 1: “You”………….......12

III. Chater 2: “I”………………….40

IV: Chapter 3: “We” …………… 52

V: Conclusion…………………....56

VI: Works Cited ………………...58

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