Second Person Point of View Short Stories: Examples of 2nd Person Narrators

These short stories all have second person narrators, in whole or in part.

“How to Talk to a Hunter” by Pam Houston

You’re having a relationship with a hunter, spending many nights at his cabin. It’s December and his place is warmer than yours. You don’t question his politics, tastes or other relationships. Your future together is unclear. You get feedback from your friends.

This story can be read in the preview of Cowboys Are My Weakness: Stories.

“Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid

In this prose/poem hybrid, a mother gives her daughter some advice about how to behave, and on becoming a woman.

“Girl” is the sixth story in the Amazon preview of The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story.

“The Night” by Ray Bradbury

You are a child in a small town in 1927. You’re home with your mom. Your older brother, Skipper, is twelve and allowed to stay out later. When it’s almost nine-thirty, your mother wonders where Skipper is. After a while, she says you’re both going out for a walk.

“The Night” is the first story in the Amazon preview of The Stories of Ray Bradbury.

“How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court Into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium” by Matt De La Pena

It’s summer and school is over. You did well even though all you really care about is basketball. All your free time is spent practicing. You want to be even better next year, in high school. You overhear people talking about a high-level game that’s played in Balboa Park.

The beginning of this story can be read in the preview of the anthology Flying Lessons & Other Stories.

“The Effects of Good Government on the City” by A. L. Kennedy

You don’t want to break up with someone in Blackpool. You’re at your childhood home, at the beach. You don’t sleep anymore. It’s gradually revealed where you’ve come from.

This story can be read in the preview of Freedom: Short Stories Celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Emergency Skin” by N. K. Jemisin

You’ve been given every available improvement on the human design. You’re being sent on an important mission to the planet Tellus, the original home of the human species. It was abandoned due to full environmental collapse. Most of the population had to be left behind. Tellus will be barren and toxic. The journey will take years but feel like days.

The beginning of the story can be read in the Amazon preview.

“How to Be an Other Woman” by Lorrie Moore

You meets a man while waiting for the bus. He asks about the book you’re reading. You start going on dates—movies, concerts and museums. You become involved. He’s married.

Some of this story can be read in the Amazon preview of Self-HelpThis collection has several stories in the second-person, including the following two.

“The Kid’s Guide to Divorce” by Lorrie Moore

A young daughter is visiting her mother. They watch movies and have popcorn.

Read “The Kid’s Guide to Divorce”

“How to Talk to Your Mother (Notes)” by Lorrie Moore

The narrator covers events in the life of the protagonist starting in 1982 and working back to 1939. It relates significant moments with her mother, father, brother, and her interactions with men.

Read “How to Talk to Your Mother (Notes)”

“The Egg” by Andy Weir

You’re killed in a car accident on your way home. You’re concerned about the family you’re leaving behind, which the narrator tells you is what he likes to see. It turns out you’re going to be reincarnated.

Read “The Egg”

“Down to a Sunless Sea” by Neil Gaiman

A woman walks the docks in London as she has for a long time. You’re under an awning to get out of the rain. She sees you and starts talking about her son.

Read “Down to a Sunless Sea” 

“Accident” by Dave Eggers

You get out of your car after a traffic accident which ruined a Camaro carrying three teenagers. You’re worried about how they’re going to react.

Read “Accident”

“Happy Endings” by Margaret Atwood

John and Mary meet. What happens next varies greatly. The “A” story has a happy ending. Story versions “B” through “F” go differently. We learn a lesson about plots and how stories end.

Most of this story is in third-person omniscient. It begins and ends with second-person.

Read “Happy Endings”

“Fever” by John Edgar Wideman

There is a yellow fever epidemic in late 18th century Philadelphia. Allen, an African-American, chooses to stay in the city to help Dr. Rush find a cure and treat the victims. Popular opinion among the white population is that the disease was brought to the city by black slaves.

This story has first, second, and third-person POV.

Read “Fever”

“The Harvest” by Tomas Rivera

A migrant farm worker takes frequent walks by himself. His fellow workers think he might be hiding money.

This story ends with a shift to second-person.

“Reality Check” by David Brin

You are prompted to perform a reality check. While processing this, you’re told a story about a mighty race that was alone in the universe and wondered why. They reached a crisis point and went extinct in 2174. The narrator occasionally checks in on your progress.

Read “Reality Check”

“Moving Pictures” by Charles Johnson

You’re in a movie theater waiting for the show to start. You think about the power of movies, and the status of filmmakers compared to novelists. We learn about your background, including a failed marriage and financial issues.

“Diem Perdidi” by Julie Otsuka

The narrator tells us all of the things that her mother can and cannot remember.

  • “Instructions” by Bob Leman