Why does the author switch to second-person point of view at the end?

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"And of Clay We Are Created" tells the story of a reporter named Rolf who tries and fails to rescue a young girl named Azucena from a mud slide caused by a volcanic eruption. Azucena is buried up to her neck and, despite Rolf's best efforts to pull her out, dies after three nights. The story is narrated retrospectively and, for the most part, in the first person, by a woman who seems to be Rolf's wife or partner.

In the final paragraph of the story, the narrative perspective switches from first to second person. The first line of the final paragraph begins, "You are back with me, but you are not the same man." The "you" being addressed here is Rolf. He is not the same man because he has been traumatized by his failure to save the girl.

The author switches to the second-person narrative perspective in order to position the reader as Rolf. When the narrator says, "You are back with me," "I wait for you to complete the voyage into yourself," and "when you return from your nightmares," the reader feels as if it is he or she that is being spoken to. The repetition of the word "you" constitutes a direct address, meaning that the reader is positioned as Rolf, and thus encouraged to empathize with Rolf.

The suddenness of the switch to second-person narrative is also significant as it instantly takes the distance of objectivity away from the reader. The reader is thus, without warning or the chance to prepare, forced to confront Rolf's trauma as if it were his or her own. The suddenness of this change helps to convey the violence and the rawness of Rolf's trauma.

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