Please analyze the point of view in Moore's "How to Become a Writer".

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The point of view in Lorrie Moore's "How to Become A Writer" is the second person. Her essay is composed of a series of commands and experiences, such as "Show it to your mom" and "Write a villanelle about pores." However, while Moore is commanding the reader (in the second person) to carry out various tasks to become a writer, these tasks and struggles also define the journey of Francie, a fictional character. The narrative also might describe Moore's own journey to becoming a writer and include details from her own life. For example, she writes, "In your English class, look only at Mr. Killian's face. Decide faces are important." Each command and detail describes a step in Francie's journey as a writer that could also have come from Moore's own life.

By using the second person, Moore allows the reader to experience in a more direct way what Francie is experiencing and what Moore might have experienced. For example, when she writes, "Begin to wonder what you do write about. Or if you have anything to say." Using the second person makes Moore's essay feel immediate and personally applicable to the reader, who experiences the travails that Francie (and, by extension, Moore) is experiencing as a young writer. 

epollock | Student

Unique about "How to Become a Writer" is its use of the second-person point of view—characteristic of a number of stories in Self Help, the collection from which "How to Become a Writer" is selected—which is shown in the beginning words, "First, try," and which is sustained throughout. The speaker is Francie, a young writer herself. The dramatic situation is that she is giving advice to an unnamed listener about the right course to follow in becoming a writer. It is clear, however, that the "you" is Francie’s informal and indefinite way of referring to herself as much as to the listener. The story unfolds as though she is responding to the following question posed before the story opens: "How do you become a writer?" As a result of this presumed question, Francie, in effect, ironically and comically describes what she herself has done. Anyone who has ever told someone else how to do something will have used the second person "you" in a similar way.

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