Herman, David
Textual 'You' and double deixis in Edna O'Brien's A Pagan Place
Style 28 .3 (Fall, 1994): 378 (33 pages).

A story is like a letter. Dear You, I'll say. Just you, without a name. Attaching a name attaches you to the world of fact, which is riskier, more hazardous: who knows what the chances are out there, of survival, yours? I will say you, you, like an old love song. You can mean more than one. You can mean thousands. (Atwood 53)



Bruce Morrissette, in his groundbreaking investigation of "Narrative 'You' in Contemporary Literature," opens his analysis by citing the Sartrean dictum "that every novelistic technique implies a metaphysical attitude on the part of the author" (1). Arguably, the same proposition applies, at one remove, to the various descriptions put forth by Morrissette himself and by other later students of second-person narration.(1) That said, we need further specification of the metaphysics -- more precisely, the ontology -- of narrative you in both fictional and critico-theoretical contexts. At issue, more precisely still, is the ontological status of the entity or entities to which we ascribe certain properties when, in constructing a discourse model corresponding to some emergent (portion of a) narrative text, we come upon the lexical item you in that textual domain (cf. Webber, "Structure" 110-11).

A principled account of the discourse functions of the second-person pronoun in narrative contexts can help us specify, in turn, the structure and ontology of the entities invoked by textual you, yielding new tools for the poetics of second-person fiction. To this end, I propose to examine Edna O'Brien's 1970 novel A Pagan Place in light of linguistic theories of (person) deixis, those theories having emerged historically from more broadly pragmatic theories concerning the situatedness of utterances in contexts. By sketching the forms and functions of textual you in O'Brien's novel -- a narrative told entirely in the second person and anchored in the world of a (nameless) preadolescent girl coming of age in rural Ireland during World War II -- we can at the same time work towards an enriched poetics of second-person narratives. My hypothesis is that in second-person fictions like O'Brien's, the deictic force of textual you helps decenter what Marie-Laure Ryan would term the modal structure of the narrative universes built up by those fictions (Ryan 109-23; cf. Pavel 43-113). Narrative you produces an ontological hesitation between the virtual and the actual by constantly repositioning readers, to a fundamentally indeterminate degree, within the emergent spatiotemporal parameters of one or more alternative possible worlds. As I shall go on to argue (sec. 3 and 4.5), such fictional play both illuminates and is illuminated by recent reconceptions of deixis itself: notably, the theories about participant roles and frames and about culturally saturated deictic fields developed by William Hanks in his book Referential Practice. If, therefore, second-person fictions like A Pagan Place engage in what Brian McHale would describe as the quintessentially postmodernist foregrounding of ontological issues (3-40; but contrast Herman, "Modernism"), my chief concern here is with the nature of the conceptual tools required to account for that foregrounding. The requisite tools, arguably, pertain to a narratology after structuralism: that is, a postclassical, though not necessarily a poststructuralist, narratology.

Along with an introductory survey of some of the effects of textual you in A Pagan Place, I offer below (sec. 2.1 and 2.2) a brief synopsis of existing narratological accounts of you in second-person narratives like O'Brien's. Subtending these accounts are two broad types of discourse models, distinguishable in terms of the modes and degrees of virtuality or actuality they assign to entities referenced by you. At the very least, the ontological axioms at the basis of the two kinds of models warrant closer consideration than has been devoted to them up to now. Note that by "discourse models," in this connection, I mean those emergent, dynamic interpretive frames which producers (tellers, writers) and receivers (listeners, readers) of narrative discourse collaboratively construct and that Deborah Schiffrin describes in more general terms thus: "both users and analysts of language build models which are based on a patterned integration of units from different levels of analysis. Such models are what allow them to identify discourse segments with parallel patterns, and . . to make overall sense out of a particular segment of talk -- to define it as coherent" (Discourse 22; see, too, Fludernik, "Second Person" 230ff. and Fictions 446-53; Grabes 426-28; Korte 181ff.; Webber, "Ostension" and Formal passim). Further, Monika Fludernik, discussing some "naturally occurring text type paradigms that second-person fiction utilizes in its attempt to ease the reader into a story form that seems to contradict expectations of customary patterns of verisimilitude" ("Second Person" 220), notes that

[d]iscourse models for possible second-person narration can be divided roughly into those that highlight a prominent address function (which in actual second-person fiction, is then supplemented by an existential component, i.e. involvement in the story), and those that portray a you's experiences in combination with a latent situation of address. (230)

As we might also put it, in the context of a second-person fiction like O'Brien's, one species of discourse model prompts us to assume that the entity evoked by you exists in the world of the narrative as the fictional protagonist who addresses to herself a narrative of which she is in turn the (intradiegetic) narratee. We thus construe the entity as being more or less virtual with respect to our world(s), the world(s) in which we design and interpret stories. (On the relatively more virtual status of intradiegetic versus extradiegetic narratees, see Genette, Narrative 260; Narrative Discourse Revisited 131; see, too, Gerald Prince, "Narratee" 301 and Dictionary 57). By contrast, in adopting the other type of discourse model, we postulate that textual you evokes an entity -- that is, a reader -actual or at least actualizable in our world and eo ipso more or less virtual in the world of the narrative.

By working toward a third enriched kind of discourse model, one that incorporates both Of the models just outlined, the analysis attempts to redress a lacuna noted by Fludernik: "Previous research [on second-person fiction] has either focussed on the use of the second-person pronoun in reference to a fictional protagonist or on the address function of second- person texts, but ignoring the central issue of the combination of these two aspects" ("Second Person" 218; cf. Fludernik, Fictions 445-46). Fludernik herself proposes a suggestive new typology (spanning the categories "homocommunicative," "heterocommunicative," and "homoconative") by means of which we can rethink the relations between fictional reference and address in the context of second-person fiction ("Second Person" 224). The typology yields a finer-grained specification of "the communicative level" vis-a-vis "the story level of the fiction" (224), permitting us to discriminate between several varieties of second-person (self-)address run together in the older typologies ("Second Person" 221-23). Taking a different approach to narrative you, my discussion situates both the referential and address mechanisms of you amid an array of discourse functions attaching to the pronoun, in a more or less accentuated fashion, in different narrative contexts.

More precisely, the referential mechanisms associated with textual you pertain to one functional subtype of the pronoun, a subtype marked by an uncoupling of the grammatical form (the morphosyntactic features) of you from its deictic functions. Thus you refers to O'Brien's narrator- protagonist by a process of what Uri Margolin ("Narrative" 198ff.; "Dispersing" 190-99) has termed "deictic transfer," another species of which produces the functional subtype known as impersonal or generalized you. By contrast, the address mechanisms of narrative you -- discourse functions that differ in degree, not kind, from the functions we call referential -- can be respecified as a convergence between the grammar of you and its deictic profile. This convergence between the form and functioning of you, like their uncoupling, yields two functional subtypes: (1) what I shall call "fictionalized address," which entails address to and/or by the members of some fictional world and thus constitutes "horizontal" address; and (2) "actualized address" or "apostrophe," which, as I construe it, here entails address that exceeds the frame (or ontological threshold) of a fiction to reach the audience, thus constituting "vertical" address.(2)

Yet another discourse function triggered by you, arguably of crucial importance to second-person fictions like A Pagan Place, is more difficult to situate (or at least to situate exactly) amid the other functions just sketched. This is the discourse function that I shall label "double deixis." To anticipate, in some instances at least, O'Brien's textual you functions neither as a coded reference to an "I" (a fictional protagonist) or to an indefinite "one" (Laberge, Laberge and Sankoff) nor as a term of (horizontal) address in the fictional world built up by the novel nor yet as a vehicle for apostrophic, vertical address to the reader. Rather, on some occasions you functions as a cue for superimposing two or more deictic roles, one internal to the discourse situation represented in and/or through the diegesis and the other(s) external to that discourse situation. (As should already be apparent, however, the heuristic constructs "internal" and "external" will themselves have to be rethought in this connection.) Closer study of this superimposition of deictic roles via textual you can, I believe, help us fruitfully redescribe the oftentimes disorienting, sometimes uncanny experience of reading second- person fictions, one of whose most characteristic formal gambits is "to try to put the reader in the text" (Kacandes "Are You," 139) and thereby abolish the boundary between the textual and the extratextual, the fictive and the real, the virtual and the actual (cf. McHale 222ff.; Phelan; Richardson 312). Arguably, a discourse model that accommodates doubly deictic you will (on occasion) assign both virtuality and actuality to the entity or entities indexed by narrative you. Or, to put the point another way, double deixis is a name for the ontological interference pattern produced by two or more interacting spatiotemporal frames -- none of which can be called primary or basic relative to the other(s) -- set more or less prominently into play when we read fictions written in the second person.

At issue, then, are (at least) five functional types of textual you, types that must be accommodated within an enriched discourse model for narrative discourse in the second person:

(1) generalized you
(2) fictional reference
(3) fictionalized (= horizontal) address
(4) apostrophic (= vertical) address
(5) doubly deictic you

These five modalities of textual you will be examined in more detail below (sec. 4.2 ff.). First, though, taking a preliminary look at some of the nuances of you in A Pagan Place can help us sketch the possibilities and limits of existing schemes for interpreting the second-person pronoun in narrative contexts.


One of the chief difficulties connected with the study of second- person fiction, until recently at least, is the lack of narratological tools precise enough to capture the sophistication of fictional practice. Even a cursory examination of textual you in A Pagan Place reveals a rich diversity of functions attaching to the pronoun. Refinement of the poetics of second-person fiction depends on our developing a descriptive nomenclature adequate to the sometimes fugitive elements of what we might call the phenomenology of reading you and, for that matter, the phenomenology of the Reading You. This is another way of saying that the ontology of you in second-person fiction derives from the discourse model we adopt in attempting to process instances of the pronoun. By beginning to take stock of the many different functional profiles assumed by you in A Pagan Place, we can also start to come to grips both with the two broad types of discourse models mentioned in section 1 together with those models' attendant ontological axioms.


Consider the opening paragraph of O'Brien's novel: "Manny Parker was a botanist, out in all weathers, lived with his sister that ran the sweetshop, they ate meat Fridays, they were Protestants. Your mother dealt there, found them honest" (3). Here, arguably, the second-person possessive pronoun presents no special interpretive difficulties. We can take your to refer to the fictional protagonist of A Pagan Place, a protagonist who, as (intradiegetic) narrator, is also, over the course of the novel as a whole, her own intradiegetic narratee: that is, a narratee included in the diegetic situation whose product is the narrative itself. A similar interpretation can be placed on another occurrence of your a little later on in O'Brien's introductory account of the narrator- protagonist-narratee's fictional circumstances: "Your mother could not bear to see and hear stray cattle dispersing all over the fields because she had a presentiment that they were going to be there forever, fattening themselves for free" (5).

Ostensibly, these occurrences of textual you in A Pagan Place bear out Brian Richardson's interpretation of the novel as an instance of "standard," versus the "subjunctive" or "autotelic," forms of second- person fiction (see below, section 2.2.). For Richardson, one of the indices of the standard mode is its use of a narrative you convertible to the first or third person (319). At issue is a you referentially grounded in some fictional narrator and/or protagonist and derived from the first- or third-person forms by a (narratologically reconstructible) series of pronominal transformations and displacements:

Second-person narrative may be defined as any narration that designates its protagonist by a second-person pronoun. This protagonist will usually be the sole focalizer, and is generally the work's narratee as well. In most cases, the story is narrated in the present tense. . . . The most common type of second-person narrative, what I will term the "standard" form, is also the closest to more traditional forms of narration. In it, a story is told, usually in the present tense, about a single protagonist who is referred to in the second person; the "you" also designates the narrator and the narratee as well, though as we will see there is frequently some slippage in this unusual triumvirate.(3) (311)

According to this argument, in something like the description of how "[i]n one of the fields there was an old bus with two hairy fellows living in it and although they never accosted you, you thought they might" (O'Brien 80), one recognizes the modus operandi of O'Brien's novel as a whole. Judging from the previous passage, A Pagan Place is a text in which "the narrator, focalizer and narratee are in fact one person" (Richardson 316). Here the customary address functions of you subordinate themselves to the referential (one might well say "anaphoric") functions of the pronoun. You now operates as a sort of syncategorematic term or discourse particle, whose chief function is to establish cohesion amongst the various narrative units uttered, lived, and interpreted in closed-circuit diegesis by the fictional protagonist herself.

In short, although it allows for "some slippage" in this connection, by and large the discourse model subtending Richardson's interpretation of A Pagan Place as a standard second-person fiction confers virtuality on the entities evoked by textual you. As in Butor's early definition of the second person in fictional contexts as "celui a qui l'on raconte sa propre histoire" (66) ("that person to whom one relates one's own life-story"), in Richardson's scheme textual you in A Pagan Place designates a personage or entity actual only with respect to the alternative possible world created by O'Brien's fiction. By definition, that personage or entity is unreal or irreal with respect to the world in which we perform acts of "fictional recentering": that is, the acts on the strength of which readers relocate to the alternative possible worlds detailed in fictions like O'Brien's (Ryan 21-23). Some such discourse model informs, too, Gerard Genette's understanding of second-person narration, given that Genette defines "second-person narrating" as "the identity between narratee and hero" (Narrative Discourse Revisited 133; cf. Prince, Dictionary 84). In such contexts, the character-you and the narratee-you (Prince, Narratology 20) coincide, and in turn the character/narratee-you coincides with the narrator. As Prince puts it, "[s]ometimes, the narratee-character of a given account may be, at the same time, its narrator. In this case, the latter addresses this account to no one else than himself" (21). Yet what Richardson deems the typical profile of standard second-person fictions, and what Butor, Genette, and Prince construe as the index of second-person fiction per se, is better conceived of as a limiting case of a particular strategy for reading you. As Prince's formulation in particular suggests (but see Prince, "Narratee" 302), this model backgrounds the address functions of the second-person pronoun in the interest of constructing a modally homogeneous interpretation of textual you: that is, an interpretation of you as designator of the virtual.

Pursuing our initial survey of textual you in A Pagan Place, however, we discover that some occurrences of you in O'Brien's novel require more or less complicated adjustments in our initial approach, though perhaps not wholesale abandonment of the discourse model that posits a sort of diegetic solidarity (in the Hjelmslevian sense) between narrator, focalizing protagonist, and narratee.(4) For example, in the account of how her father and mother first met, the self-address of the narrator- protagonist is inflected by intermittent representation of her father's patterns of speech; we therefore get an embedding of free indirect discourse within the self-address(5) and to that extent a loosening of the diegetic links that connect narrator, protagonist-focalizer, and narratee to a single node, as it were, of the virtual or irreal: "Your father met your mother at that dance but didn't throw two words to her. Your mother was all dolled up, home from America on holiday, had a long dress and peroxide in her hair. Your mother put the eye on him then and got her brother to invite him up to their house to walk the land" (7; my emphases). Later on in the novel, after Emma's pregnancy is discovered, the self-address again constitutes, too, reported speech, this time by way of indirect discourse: "Your father said all the private shit was over and that it was now in the public domain" (130). The self-address is here complex or mixed, opening itself to address by others and a fortiori address to others. At the very least, the discourse functions performed by you have already begun to complicate the modal status of what the term designates, given that the pronoun has begun to embed virtuality within virtuality, to insert address by other fictional personages within the ongoing self-address of the protagonist.

In fact, O'Brien relies on a variety of grammatical and rhetorical resources to signal forms of represented speech and thought in the context of second-person narration. Such formal features help us negotiate instances of you that deviate from what we might be inclined to call the default interpretation of the second-person pronoun in A Pagan Place: that is, the assumption that, unless otherwise indicated, you is a pronominal stand-in for an I who figures as the protagonist of a narrative that she addresses to herself and that we eavesdropping readers (quasi- voyeuristically) overhear. For example, syntactic inversion is often a marker of the Anglo-Irish idiolect associated with (and in fact used to characterize) the father. Thus the inverted locution at the end of the following passage signals indirect discourse, in which you figures as a term of address uttered by the father to his daughter, as subsequently reported (to herself) by the daughter. Here you functions as part of what I am calling fictionalized (or horizontal) address: "The women brought you into the bedroom that led off the kitchen and while you were vomiting your father called in to know if it was vomiting you were" (41). Similarly, setting itself off against the background of the ongoing (unmarked) narration, periphrasis is a (marked) stylistic figure whose emphatic quality suggests not self-address, but rather the self-addressed report of someone else's address: "Your mother said they would not force you, they were not believers in force" (193). Then again, a subjunctive grammatical mood can indicate where both narration and reported speech give way to reported thought -- "You would go away from them, far, far away, where no conveyance could bring them to you" (222) -- producing a strangely hybrid form of self-address. The locution just cited seems to combine elements of (1) the self-address that sometimes occurs within the quoted monologues representing consciousness in third-person contexts (Cohn 90-91) with elements of (2) those representations of consciousness in first-person contexts in which "a first-person compulsively buttonholes a second person who seems to be simultaneously inside and outside the fictional scene, inside and outside the speaking self" (Cohn 178).

My larger point is that, even when committed to the discourse model that prompts us to virtualize O'Brien's you in attempting to process occurrences of the pronoun, we find ourselves within a more or less baroque ontology comprising species of self-address: self-address containing (what are postulated as "factual") reports of address by other fictitious personages, self-address featuring desires and plans never actualized in the world of the novel and thus acquiring the status of second-order fictions, and so on. Still, a case can be made for the view that, in the instances of you just considered, O'Brien includes enough textual indicators (verbal moods, speech registers, rhetorical signatures, etc.) for us to assort all these modalities of you, and to situate their various discourse referents within the alternative possible world(s) affiliated with the novel.


Yet O'Brien does not always help us delimit, via more or less convenient formal markers, the modal status of the referents of you. Margolin points out that "in the absence of clear textual indicators, the speech situation [in second-person narration] may become ambiguous . . .: is its narrator t[he] narratee, or rather a narratee's response embedded in the narrator's utterance, or is it genuine self-address?" ("Narrative" 189). Margolin's hermeneutic inventory -- note that his questions concern the exact scope of the address functions attaching to textual you -- can be extended. Take this passage, for example: "The squeals of each particular pig [being slaughtered by the father] reached you no matter where you hid, no matter where you happened to crouch, and it was heart-rending as if the pig was making a last but futile appeal to someone to save him" (19). Here, arguably, the chain of empathic identification stretches beyond the diegetic situation of the novel -- beyond that virtual "you" who, in O'Brien's fictional world, addresses to herself comments regarding her own inability to ignore the pigs' final appeal -- and reaches those fragments of our world(s) in which pity for pigs is actually to be found. Similar difficulties of determining the scope of you manifest themselves when we read this passage: "Alone for the first time in the street, you were conscious of your appearance. Your coat was ridiculous compared with other people's coats" (172). It seems that in descriptions like the ones just cited, textual you functions not (or not only) as discourse particle relaying and linking the various components of a fictional protagonist's self-address, but (also) as a form of address that exceeds the frame of the fiction itself. You designates anyone who has ever been or might conceivably be upset at the slaughter of animals or embarrassed by the homeliness of her coat when she stands alone for the first time on a crowded city street.

In such contexts the second discourse model typically brought to bear on the study of second-person fiction begins to make its relevance felt. In contradistinction to the first model, the second model prompts us not to virtualize but rather to actualize the entity referenced by you. More specifically, the model prompts us to interpret you not as an instance of (self-)address or as reference to O'Brien's fictional protagonist, but rather as an address to the audience, to us, the readers of this very text.

Note that insofar as interpretation of O'Brien's text activates this second discourse model at all, Richardson's classification of A Pagan Place as a standard versus "autotelic" second-person fiction is in jeopardy. Given that "[t]he defining criterion of . . . 'the autotelic' . . is the direct address to a 'you' that is at times the actual reader of the text and whose story is juxtaposed to, and can merge with, the characters of the fiction" (Richardson 320), and given that in such autotelic fictions "the 'you' continues to move, shift, double back, and change again, addressing alternately the real reader, the implied reader, and the narratee" (321), O'Brien's novel would seem to be a "mixed" second-person fiction, one that oscillates between the standard and autotelic modes. Indeed, in A Pagan Place such oscillation is sometimes accelerated, as it were, whereby a given occurrence of the second-person pronoun (versus its pattern of usage in the fiction as a whole) cues us both to actualize and to virtualize the entity designated by you, to construe you both as a form of direct address and as a reference (or address) to a fictional character. The result is what I shall go on to detail as double deixis (section 4.5).

In the meantime, recall that within rhetorical theory an interpretive schema for actualizing you has been in place ever since the classical rhetoricians identified the figure of "apostrophe." Its name derived from the Greek verb ?? -- literally "to turn away or aside" -- the rhetorical figure of apostrophe designates those moments when "the orator suddenly breaks off to address someone or something" (Dupriez 58), thereby engaging in "a direct address to a silent auditor" (Goodblatt 4). Originally, "[t]he term . . . referred to any abrupt 'turning away' from the normal audience to address a different or more specific audience, whether present (e.g., one person out of the assemblage) or absent" ("Apostrophe" 42). Here I shall be opting for a somewhat more restricted sense of apostrophe, using "fictionalized address" to cover all modalities of address except those in which an apostrophic you directly designates the audience comprising readers of (or listeners to) a fiction. Those modalities of you ingeniously characterized by Irene Kacandes under the rubric of "literary performatives," in which "to read the address is to perform what one reads" ("Are You" 141), may constitute the limit case of apostrophic you (cf. Kacandes, "Can You Talk Back?" and below, section 4.3.2). As opposed to Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller (Kacandes, "Are You" passim; cf. Habermas 253ff.), however, in A Pagan Place strict apostrophic you is rare, perhaps even nonexistent. Arguably, the two passages from O'Brien quoted above are instances not of apostrophic you in the strict sense, but rather of doubly deictic you, in which we get a superimposition of virtuality (the fictional protagonist) and actuality (the reader), versus the wholesale actualization of you achieved by way of apostrophe.

Even this initial survey of you in A Pagan Place indicates the complexity and variety of the discourse functions attributable to the pronoun. Before we can go on to characterize these functions in a more principled way and begin to specify their interrelations on the basis of modal criteria (i.e., the virtuality and actuality associated with the different functional types), however, we need to reexamine textual you via linguistic theories of deixis. More specifically, linguistic conceptions of person deixis can help illuminate the nature and scope of what I am terming doubly deictic you vis-a-vis the other modalities of you operative in O'Brien's novel.


Working within a research tradition that extends back (at least) to Karl Buhler's seminal discussion of deixis in Sprachtheorie (originally published in 1934), most linguists would agree that we can define deictic expressions -- terms like here, this, now, I, and you -- as "those linguistic elements whose interpretation in simple sentences makes essential reference to properties of the extralinguistic context of the utterances in which they occur" (Anderson and Keenan 259). Thus deixis designates "the way an expression is anchored to some essential point in context" (Frawley 274); deictic elements constitute "that aspect of the linguistic form because of which it can figure in the given, concrete context, because of which it becomes a sign adequate to the conditions of the given, concrete situation" (Volosinov 68). As Stephen Levinson puts it, "deixis concerns the ways in which languages encode or grammaticalize features of the context of utterance or speech event, and thus also concerns ways in which the interpretation of utterances depends on the analysis of that context of utterance" (54). (For a humorous representation of the difficulties, not to say impossibility, of framing a language entirely devoid of deictic expressions, see Yehoshua Bar-Hillel [367-69]; for a somewhat questionable assimilation of all linguistic items to deictic expressions, see V. N. Volosinov [79]: "The meaning of a word is determined entirely by its context.")

In fact, language theorists have developed a variety of explanatory models to account for this (always only partial) grammaticalization of context through deixis. Roman Jakobson, for example, invokes the concept of "shifters":

Any linguistic code contains a particular class of grammatical units which Jespersen labeled shifters: the general meaning of a shifter cannot be defined without reference to the message. . . . [S]hifters are distinguished from all other constituents of the linguistic code solely by their compulsory reference to the given message. (131-32)

Oswald Ducrot and Tzvetan Todorov likewise emphasize what might be termed the message-specific character, or context sensitivity, of deictic terms: "Deictics are expressions whose referent can only be determined with respect to the interlocutors. . . . E. Benveniste has shown that deictics constitute an irruption of discourse within language, since their very meaning . . ., even though it depends on language, can only be defined by allusion to their use" (252). Gisa Rauh, in her Linguistic Description of Deictic Complexity in Narrative Texts, also draws on the later Wittgenstein's conception of meaning as use:

Deiktische Ausdrucke haben nicht die Funktion, Gegenstande, auf die mit ihrer Verwendung verwiesen wird, zu charakterisieren. Ihre Bedeutung kann nicht unabhangig von ihrer Verwendung beschrieben werden, sondern sie ist abhangig von der Situation eines Sprechereignisses, dem aubersprachlichen Kontext einer Auberung. Die Bedeutung deiktischer Ausdrucke verandert sich mit dem Auberer einer Auberung und dessen Position in Raum und Zeit. (30)

Deictic expressions do not have the function of characterizing objects to which these expressions, in being used, will refer. Their meaning cannot be described independently of their use, but is rather dependent on the situation of a speech-event, the extralinguistic context of an utterance. The meaning of deictic expressions changes with the utterer of an utterance and with his or her position in space and time.

Within that class of expressions called deictics, furthermore, language theorists have identified what appear to be at least five different kinds or rather dimensions of deixis. In addition to spatial deixis ("The dog stood over there"), temporal deixis ("After that I got really bored") and person deixis ("She's smarter than I am"), we can also talk about social and discourse deixis. Socially deictic expressions encode "social distinctions that are relative to participant-roles" (Levinson 63; cf. Brown and Yule 54ff.). For example, in English I will use a different term of address according to my social position relative to the addressee (I would say Mr. President but the Attorney General might say Bill); other languages encode social distinctions through their personal-pronoun systems (familiar tu and du versus formal vous and Sie in French and German, respectively). Finally, discourse deixis encodes references to "portions of the unfolding discourse in which the utterance (including the text referring expression) is located" (Levinson 62). Examples would include expressions like as I just said, or as will become clearer in a moment.

My chief concern here, of course, is person deixis. Ever since the work of Buhler (107ff.) and then Emile Benveniste (225-36, 251-58), traditional conceptions of person deixis have used the idea of participant roles to ground a distinction between first- and second-person pronouns, on the one hand, and third-person pronouns, on the other hand. According to this research tradition, I and you, by grammatically encoding the roles of addressor/speaker and addressee/hearer, typically designate participants in a current discourse situation. By contrast, he, she, and they typically designate not participants in the current discourse, but rather elements of the (extralinguistic) context of the discourse.

Indeed, it seems that all languages encode through their personal- pronoun systems reference to (at least) the speaker, the hearer or addressee, and the nonspeaker or nonhearer. Typically, these three persons and the different numbers (i.e., singular I and you versus plural we and you [all]) that they can assume are construed as "the set of contextual anchors for deictic reference to speech act participants" (Frawley 280). More precisely,

The nonparticipant forms signal that the referent is neither the current animator nor the current receiver, but some third party(s). Whereas the Spkr and Adr forms encode that the referent they identify is identical to some participant in the current identical field of interaction, the nonparticipant forms signal a disjunction between coparticipants and the referent(s).(6) (Hanks 179)

If then a language were to encode in the addressee form you both actual and potential parties to the discourse -- both addressees and overhearers, participants and nonparticipants -- it would risk conflating the "field of interaction" with the larger context in which the interaction occurs, the coparticipants in with the referents of the current discourse. Such a language would include not just deictic but also doubly deictic expressions. Users of the language in question -- like interpreters of second-person narratives -might find themselves to be oddly nonvirtual participants in discourses from which they are nevertheless spatiotemporally removed.

My claim, then, is that features of O'Brien's second-person narration compel us to reflect on the conditions and limits of participation in discourse generally. In this context, consider Jakobson's account of that species of shifters which gets built into the grammar of languages by way of their personal-pronoun systems:

Person characterizes the participants of the narrated event with reference to the participants of the speech event. Thus first person signals the identity of a participant of the narrated event with the performer of the speech event, and the second-person, the identity with the actual or potential undergoer of the speech event.(134)

Significantly, Jakobson's definition hedges on the question of whether you encodes in the narrative event reference to an actual or to a potential undergoer of the speech event.(7) (As already noted in section 2.1, some researchers have posited, across the board, an identity between the performer and the undergoer of the speech event in the context of second-person fiction, with the performer addressing an earlier version of himself or herself in the guise of a current undergoer.) Jakobson's nonrigid distinction between actual and virtual speech participants suggests that we cannot posit a strictly asymmetrical relation between first- and second-person pronouns versus third-person pronouns after all. By the same token, it becomes difficult to demarcate, in more than a provisional and tentative way, participation in a discourse from nonparticipation in that discourse.

On certain occasions textual you in A Pagan Place produces an ambiguous or rather double deixis mirrored in Jakobson's uneasy distribution of you between actual and potential undergoers, real and virtual participants. More precisely, O'Brien's text sometimes telescopes into one grammatical form -- you -- the deictic functions of both participant-centered and nonparticipant-centered pronouns. In some narrative contexts, textual you thus yields a peculiarly double deixis, whose scope includes both the addressee and what Benveniste specified as the "non-personne"(8): that is, the "persons and entities which are neither speakers nor addressees of the utterance in question" (Levinson 62). Put otherwise, although, in narratives like O'Brien's, you has the morphological or morphosyntactic features of the second-person pronoun in English and thus prima facie seems to encode the role of the addressee into narrative discourse, nonetheless in some second-person fictions the deictic functions of you are in some instances only partly in agreement with the term's morphosyntactic features.(9) Functionally speaking you superimposes the deictic role of the audience or overhearer (in this instance the reader) onto the deictic role(s) spatiotemporally anchored in the fictional world elaborated over the course of the narrative. The grammatical profile of you thus drastically underdetermines its deictic functions; the text projects itself into a range of contexts that cannot be strictly delimiter. Indeed, doubly deictic you, like language theory itself in the wake of the relatively recent development of linguistic pragmatics, compels us to question the idea that we can clearly demarcate texts and contexts and to dispute "the idea that a linguistic string (a sentence) can be fully analyzed without taking 'context' into account" (Brown and Yule 25; cf. Bar-Hillel; Green 17-35; Schiffrin, "Between Text and Context" 263ff.). To this extent, we should construe second-person fictions like A Pagan Place not just as doubly deictic, but also as metadeictic. Such fictions, by formally encoding (features of) the contexts in which they are or might be read, in turn prompt reflection on how extralinguistic context permeates and modifies linguistic form like the tendrils of a plant growing through porous stone.


Concepts set into play by linguistic theory, therefore, figure as part of narrative practice in texts like A Pagan Place. To adapt the terminology of Jurij Lotman and Boris A. Uspenskij, second-person fictions like O'Brien's furnish a secondary modeling system that grounds itself in, or bases itself upon, the deictic features of the primary modeling system, that is, language itself. Textual you thus helps represent the functioning of person deixis in a variety of discourse situations, situations at once embedded in and created by the narrative as it unfolds during the process of interpretation. The metadeictic profile of O'Brien's novel and, arguably, of second-person fictions generally is what necessitates working toward an enriched discourse model for narrative you. Highlighting its own ability to encode contexts of utterance and to engage readers via discourse that questions the possibilities and limits of that very engagement, A Pagan Place constitutes an extended meditation on the grounds for virtualizing and actualizing the various discourse referents typically assigned to you.


Note that O'Brien's text thematizes the way participants in communicative situations perform roles by means of which discourse (and interaction more generally) is produced and maintained. O'Brien persistently favors descriptions of a theatrical provenance -- for example, "He [the father] touched her wrist and begged her forgiveness. It was like a gesture in a play" (107) -- thereby figuring discourse participants as performers in front of an audience (cf. 23, 29, 73, 79). Further, in the passage describing a typical scene of confession, the text momentarily shifts to a first-erson pronoun. In consequence the novel emphasizes that even utterances ostensibly authenticated by a speaking I are just another species of illocutionary acts, communicative performances, the accomplishment of which entails playing a particular role in a particular speech situation: "You went to the curate because the parish priest was deaf and the sins had to be shouted at him. The same set of sins every week. I cursed, I told lies, I had bad thoughts" (42). Or consider the extraordinary account of how the protagonist and Della, a girl in the neighborhood suffering from tuberculosis, play a game in which one of them takes on the role of a film star. In this context the shift to a third- person pronoun represents not just make-believe embedded within an already fictive situation, but also a ludic transposition of gender roles:

Clark Gable was the first to speak. He asked why she [Della] went motoring with Robert Donat. She said she liked Robert Donat's car. . . . Then Clark Gable said he'd box her ears if she ever did that again. She said to Clark Gable What about Dorothy Lamour then, what about her. He said Dorothy Lamour was just a bon-bon compared with her, Della, and then he asked her if she loved him and she shrugged and said she didn't know and when he pressed for an answer she said A teeny bit. Then he took her wrists and squeezed them very tight she pleaded for mercy and he would not let go until she kissed him and the kiss was on lips and very passionate. You knew it was passionate because you were Clark Gable. Robert Donat and Dorothy Lamour and all of those characters. (63)

Here, identity itself reduces to a series of enunciatory and behavioral roles performed with the help of pronominal shifts and their attendant deictic displacements. To cite a remark made by Edouard Morot-Sir in a somewhat different context, "Les deictiques identifies par le linguiste sont, au niveau de la performance, les indices d'une des grandes fatalites du langage: etre personne . . . par procuration deictique" (131) ("the deictics identified by linguists are, at the level of performance, the indices of one of the great inevitabilities of language: to be a person . . . by deictic proxy"). A more precise characterization of the principles and effects of such "procuration deictique" should now be possible.


As indicated in section 1, O'Brien's novel features at least five distinct usages of you, usages that we need to sort out if we are to begin specifying the dynamics of textual you in second-person narration. In effect, each usage marks a different relation between the morphosyntactic form and the deictic functions of you. Only one such relation, however, produces double deixis, which in turn produces an ontological hesitation between virtual and actual discourse participants, decentering the modal structure of O'Brien's narrative universe.

To recapitulate, in that usage of the second-person pronoun that entails full agreement between the form of you and its functions, you encodes the participant role of an addressee. We find two functional subtypes of this usage: (1) fictionalized or horizontal address and (2) apostrophic or vertical address. Alternatively, another usage of you entails complete disagreement between morphosyntactic form and deictic function, resulting in deictic transfer(s). Once again, we find two functional subtypes in this case: you either (1) entails the displaced deixis of an I [right arrow] you deictic transfer; or (2) by a different species of transfer takes on the role of an impersonal or generalized or colloquial you, in which you and your virtually lose their deictic force and become, instead, what Melissa Furrow has termed "colloquial stand-ins for the indefinite pronoun one" (370). Finally, we have the usage that entails neither complete concord nor complete discord between grammatical form and deictic functioning, but rather a merely partial (dis)agreement between the form and functions of you. It is this usage that I am calling doubly deictic. Doubly deictic you ambiguates virtualized and actualized discourse referents or rather superimposes the deictic roles of nonparticipants and participants in the discourse, thus reweighting both terms in the text-context relation itself. As such, the notion of double deixis can help us account for the paradoxical and perhaps inalienably postmodern reading position that at least some modes of second-person fiction compel us to occupy. As James Phelan succinctly puts it, "When the second-person address to a narratee-protagonist both overlaps with and differentiates itself from an address to actual readers, those readers will simultaneously occupy the positions of addressee and observer" (351).

Initially at least, with the degree of concord between grammatical form and deictic function increasing as we move from left to the fight along the continuum, we can schematize the possible discourse functions of textual you as follows, with the question marks indicating the indeterminate boundaries -- the shifting form-function relations -- characteristic of doubly deictic you:

Further refinements on this scheme -- refinements enabling representation of the modal status of the discourse referents corresponding to each functional subtype of you -- will be introduced in section 4.6.


First, then, we have occurrences of you in which the form of the expression exactly specifies its function, producing either fictionalized or apostrophic address. The subtype entailing fictionalized address is restricted to contexts of direct discourse. (Fictionalized self-address, however, can be only partly assimilated to contexts involving direct discourse. See section 2.1 and note 5.) In such contexts a tag clause specifies that the you is being represented as an utterance issued by some participant in the discourse and thus as an actual term of address, rather than as a generalized or impersonal you, as a you standing in for an I or as a you whose referent is ambiguous between fictional addressee and audience.

In addition to the examples already discussed in section 2.1, consider this passage representing the mother's response to the news that the protagonist's sister, Emma, is pregnant. The mother "supplied a proverb: Sharper than a serpent's tooth is a thankless child. Then she looked at you and said Not you darling" (127-28; my emphasis). Here the shift from the language of proverbs to direct discourse is in itself significant. After all, proverbial utterances either explicitly or implicitly invoke an impersonal you, and the generalized you of proverbs marks a different relation between grammatical form and deictic function from the relation marked by you operating strictly as a term of address. Later, when the narrator and her mother visit Emma in Dublin and the narrator finds Emma in a cafe, the narrator again uses you as a term of address, though in this case, it is true, the utterance forms part of a merely imagined scenario. She describes how "they played a waltz. It was slow and alluring and you longed to say to Emma Will you dance..." (174; my emphasis). Note that, because O'Brien omits quotation marks throughout the novel, in this example as in the previous example the author's use of an upper-case letter in midsentence typo-graphically signals the advent of the direct discourse that in turn delimits the deictic functions of you. Such capitalization is not obligatory, however; the novel does not make things that easy for us. Thus, when the priest gets back from his missionary work in the South seas and attempts to seduce the protagonist on a houseboat, we have to infer just where direct discourse attaches a specific and localized addressee to you, just where the you forms the representation of an interlocutor's utterance: "He sat on the edge of your seat, touched your knees a few times, then he unlaced your shoes, removed them, then your ankle socks. He said hadn't you better come down from your perch" (202; my emphases).


The other species of textual you characterized by agreement between grammatical form and deictic function is apostrophic you. Here, though, the address operates vertically instead of horizontally, directed toward an actual versus fictionalized addressee. So far as I can tell, in A Pagan Place only one instance of you could be classed, on a first reading at least, as apostrophic you:

This is to warn you. Read this carefully.

You received two anonymous letters. One said that a letter had been sent to inform the mistress of novices of the type of family you had come from.... The other begged you, implored you not to go [to the convent].... (225)

The first sentence of the quoted passage apparently has as its addressee the actual reader being warned and admonished to read (these very words) carefully. Felicitious interpretation of the sentence, it would seem, requires the enactment of what Kacandes would call a literary performative, in which "[o]ne experiences the shock of being 'talked to' by the text" ("Are You" 147). Yet the rest of the quoted passage helps us contextualize the first sentence as a (quoted) fictionalized address -- as words anonymously written to the protagonist and now cited by her in retrospective narration -- instead of a vertical address to the audience.

Though the passage therefore fails to support the initial reading of the you as apostrophic (in my restricted sense of that term), it does provide an occasion to mention an important issue connected with the concepts of apostrophe and address themselves. Consider this observation made by Bernard Dupriez: "It also happens [in apostrophe] that addresses are made to a second person in the hope that they will be overheard by a third party, as when a mother asks her two-year-old child to look for the scissors, knowing that her husband is not far away. This produces a double actualization of the receiver" (59). The result -- a more or less obvious substitution of an addressee for an audience also privy to the current speech situation -- yields what might be termed covert apostrophe (or, alternatively, specious address). Yet Herbert H. Clark and Thomas B. Carlson have argued that in all speech situations involving more than two participants, every utterance achieves, more or less successfully, the "double actualization" described by Dupriez as a special case of apostrophic you. For Clark and Carlson all illocutionary acts performed in multiparty conversational situations derive (in terms of logical priority, not temporal sequence) from a class of metaperformative utterances "added to inform the participants of what is being performed" (361). Clark and Carlson call these metaperformative speech acts "informatives," further defined as acts performed "by the speaker to make it known to the participants [i.e., "third parties" to the discourse like the husband in Dupriez's example] what illocutionary act he is performing for the addressees" (350). Informatives are what account for our ability to signal (without laboriously and egregiously explaining) to fellow conversationalists which utterances are designed to elicit a response from which participants when, such that the intended respondents can issue their rejoinders felicitously and so contribute to the ongoing collaborative construction of a (coherent) discourse.

Can we not say, then, that in general the illocutionary acts comprised by second-person fictions have the status of Clark and Carlson's informatives? Is not the (self-)address in second-person contexts specious address or covert apostrophe: address apparently confined to fictionalized addressees but in actual fact directed toward all the parties engaged in the communicative situation, including the readers who function as an audience in cases of fictionalized address? This hypothesis is interesting enough to warrant fuller investigation(10) particularly since O'Brien's novel, for example, thematizes the (meta)illocutionary dynamics of informatives. Thus at one point Emma "addressed you but it was for your mother to register" (119). When it comes to the illocutionary profile of the novel as a whole, however, I would contend that those instances of textual you that I am calling doubly deictic (section 4.5) function not as informatives, but precisely as antiinformatives. Double deixis marks illocutionary overload, as it were, and instead of fostering strategic discriminations between specious (virtual) and actual addressees, doubly deictic you is part of a (postmodern) discourse strategy that constructs addressee and audience, participant and non-participant, as deeply and irremediably interlinked (cf. Herman, "Modernism" 183-86).


The second broad category of usage of you in A Pagan Place corresponds to an uncoupling of its morphosyntactic form from its deictic functions. Following Butor ("L'usage" 67ff.) we can designate this modality of you the "deplacements des personnes" ("displacements of persons"); or better still, following Margolin ("Narrative" 198ff.; "Dispersing" 190-99), we can talk about "deictic transfers" in this connection. One subtype of this second usage of you is the displacement or transfer from I to you already discussed at some length in section 2.1. (Strictly speaking, we should include both I [right arrow] you and he/she [right arrow] you transfers in this category, but I shall simplify the presentation by assuming that O'Brien's narrator is also the fictional protagonist.) This sort of deictic transfer operates in passages like "[y]ou had to pass your own gates to go to your aunt's" (O'Brien 189), in which the highly localized nature of the world fragment evoked by the description precludes generalized you while the address functions of you remain (arguably) relatively latent. As Margolin points out, furthermore, "[i]f ... the [I [right arrow] you (tu/vous)] transfer is in the past tense, we are dealing with ... a case of what Buhler has termed 'deixis am Phantasma.' In it, the speaker conjures up a past version of himself and talks to and about it as if it were present in his immediate deictic field, while distinguishing it from his present identity through the difference in tense and person" ("Dispersing" 196; contrast section 4.5). Note, too, that the I [right arrow] you deictic transfer is, as Katherine Passias points out, the prevalent functional modality of vous in what may be the single most influential second-person fiction, Butor's 1957 novel La modification: "No matter how involved he may be in a narrative, there is an underlying awareness that the message is about 'the other.' The surface modulations of the pronoun in La modification do not change the underlying relationship, namely that the narrator is someone outside of the reader's personal experiences, addressing him and attributing to him experiences that are not his" (Passias 200-01).(11)


The other subtype of you that uncouples grammatical form and deictic function is the impersonal or generalized you -- the "pseudo-deictic" you (Furrow 372) -- that often plays a prominent role not only in second-person literary narratives, but also in (the language of) proverbs, maxims, recipes, VCR instructions, song lyrics, and, though they might tell you otherwise, astrologers' prognostications. Thus, in a string like When you're hot, you're hot, "the second-person pronouns are impersonal: non- deictic in that their interpretation does not depend directly on any feature of the non-linguistic context of the utterance" (Anderson and Keenan 260).(12) I should perhaps point out here that the possibilities and limits of this impersonal usage of you are to some extent language specific. For example, the grammar of a language like modern Hebrew, in which second-person pronouns in both the singular and plural numbers encode information about the gender of the addressee (Anderson and Keenan 269), does not underdetermine the deictic functions of those pronouns to the degree that the grammar of English underdetermines their English counterparts? Translated into Hebrew, When you're hot, you're hot would encode information about both gender and number that its English version leaves wholly unspecified.(14) (Kacandes [147], like McHale [256], makes a similar observation about the you of the original Italian version of Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, as opposed to the uninflected you of the English translation.) The point is that O'Brien's narrative discourse exploits the language in which it is rooted; the (deictic) effects of second-person fiction will not necessarily be transferable in toto across different languages.

In any event, in A Pagan Place, generalized or impersonal you manifests itself quite rarely. The you of the narrative is not the you of fortune cookies and newspaper horoscopes; we are not encouraged to depersonalize this "you" who, caught in the interstices between childhood and adulthood, is herself searching for an identity: familial, social, and sexual.(15) Some of O'Brien's descriptions begin with what seems like an impersonal and pseudo deictic you -- "You always ran home from school. Your friends jeered" (11)(16) -- but are then inflected with information firmly anchored in the discourse context furnished by a personal history: "Called you sutach, called you suck-suck, called you diddums and spoilsport and clown and pissabed" (11). An account of tea roses in a vase on the table perhaps comes closer to generalized you: "When you looked into them without blinking it was like getting drawn into them, it was like a spell, getting drawn into folds and folds of red. They were different near the base, had different shadings, different gradations of color and all had unique centers" (200). What are perhaps the only indisputable instances of generalized you, however, are the occurrences of you in the moral(17) that the mother draws from the story of the man merely shipped off to Australia for shooting and killing a woman who refused to serve him another drink -- "The man was deported to Australia instead of getting jailed and he was never heard of again and your mother said that was destiny for you" (20; my emphasis) -- and later on in the verses offered by the father when he sees some mice in his shoe:

There's going to be a race,
Five asses and a ginnet
And I bet you two to one
That the Father's ass will win it. (134)


The fifth usage of you to be considered here -- doubly deictic you -- occurs against the background of the other modalities of the pronoun found in A Pagan Place. Thus the perceptibility of doubly deictic you as a stylistic figure derives from its (fluctuating) position relative to a ground comprising the other functional types already described. Neither a term of address nor not a term of address, doubly deictic you ranges over the middle portion of a continuum whose lower and upper limits, respectively, are marked by the two limit cases of virtualized and actualized you. Hovering between these two extremes, double deixis onto- logically destabilizes a modal system that can no longer be neatly divided into the virtual and the actual. Double deixis thus marks a more radical kind of ontological destabilization than does the phenomenon of Deixis am Phantasma (Buhler 133ff.; Margolin, "Narrative" 200 and "Dispersing" 197). Instead of a here-and-now speaker's imaginary and temporary relocation to an alternative system of spatiotemporal coordinates, double deixis produces an interference pattern between two or more competing deictic fields, none of which can fully orient the deictic transfers. Hence there is no longer any ultimate (nonimaginary) reference point anchoring localized and recognizably phantasmagoric shifts in space and time. Put otherwise, given that in its doubly deictic usage the grammatical form of you only partly specifies its deictic functions, such that the scope of the agreement between the form and function of you is in this case fundamentally indeterminate, the second-person pronoun grafts the text more or less onto its context(s), superimposing the fictional protagonist- addressee more or less onto the audience. Thus double deixis might be described as jointly derealized and devirtualized you.

Consider this description of the panting of a masturbator in the hotel room next to the one the protagonist and her mother have rented when they travel to Dublin to visit Emma: "you heard panting from the next room, the amateur actor' s room. It was like something you had heard before, distantly, a footprint on your mind, you didn't know from where" (169-70). Here the second-person pronoun would seem to encode reference to an addressee: that is, a participant in the discourse situation represented in the narrative. The absence of direct discourse, it is true, prevents us from interpreting you as a term of address in the strict sense; the narrative does not here represent someone uttering you to someone else. Still, the you is arguably anything but generalized or impersonal. Interpreting you as generalized would amount to ignoring the richness of the contextual information encoded in the description via, for example, the definite noun phrases the next room and the amateur actor's room. The form of these locutions suggests information already given, not new (in the sense specified by Ellen Prince), vis-a-vis the discourse situation at issue. More precisely, in its use of a definite rather than indefinite noun phrase, the passage anchors the description in what might be termed a specific perceptual frame, particularized by the first occurrence of the verb heard and associated here with the protagonist herself. Within that perceptual frame, the room next door is a live issue, a current concern, rather than some adventitious or detachable discourse topic. To resort to a more classically narratological vocabulary, the passage's selection of a particular syntactic option (the next room versus a neighboring room) signals internally focalized narrative discourse with the you functioning as pronominal stand-in for an I through whom are filtered the situations and events being recounted, in turn, to an equally particularized intradiegetic narratee (who, according to the model described in section 2.1, is the protagonist-narrator herself). You picks out this particular fictional protagonist in the act of self-address.

Yet the second sentence of the quoted passage -- "It was like something you had heard before, distantly, a footprint on your mind, you didn't know from where" -- complicates the foregoing interpretation. Here the you hovers somewhere between an apostrophic term of address, an instance of the deictic transfer constituting fictional reference, and pseudo deictic you. Depending on whether your mind had, has, or might yet have (or could in your own view be described, figuratively, as having) a footprint of sexuality inscribed upon it, you will find yourself more or less within the discourse context both presupposed and elaborated by the description at issue. Thus, at the same time that some elements of the passage create a specific and highly particularized perceptual frame, thereby prompting us to virtualize the discourse referent of you, other elements cue us to actualize the you via experiential repertoires we ourselves may or may not have acquired. The deictic coordinates orienting the description of the Dublin hotel begin to obtrude into the world occupied by readers; conversely, the here-and-now begins to orient the fictive description. As Jurgen Habermas puts it in his reading of Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller in Nachmetaphysisches Denken:

Der Roman in der zweiten Person macht den Leser zu einem Mitspieler, der zwischen einer fiktiven Welt and seiner realen schwebt, der zugleich drinnen and draussen ist: drinnen als eine unter mehreren fingierten Personen, abet zugleich draussen, weil die Figur des gelesenen auf den wirklichen Leser verweist und insofern eine Referenz uber das Buch hinaus herstellt. (256)

The novel in the second person makes of the reader a fellow player, who is suspended between a fictive world and his own real world, and who stands simultaneously inside and outside the fiction: inside it as one among several fictitious personages, but at the same time outside it, because the figure of the "read" reader refers back to the real reader and, to that extent, produces a reference that points beyond the fiction itself.

In doubly deictic contexts, in other words, the audience will find itself more or less subject to conflation with the fictional self addressed by you. The deictic force of you is double; or to put it another way, the scope of the discourse context embedding the description is indeterminate, as is the domain of participants in principle specified or picked out by you.

We find a similar combination of particularized (and thus virtualized) with nonparticularized (and thus actualizable) experiences in this passage, which describes a (non)conversation between the protagonist and her sister: "Each time you were on the point of saying something to Emma the words got caught in your throat and you could neither say them nor forget them and you could not utter them. You were like someone with a muzzle. Emma must have thought it was enmity, because she stuck her tongue out at you" (119). Note that both this and the previous passage contain similes ("It was like something you had heard before...."; "You were like someone with a muzzle"). The comparisons more or less explicitly connect (or at least suggest the possibility of connecting) the particularized occurrences with experiential repertoires at large. Indeed, in metaphor, where explicit markers of comparison are suppressed, what might otherwise be this jointly particularizing and departicularizing effect of the second-person pronoun is sometimes attenuated noticeably, even dissipated altogether: "The sun and your heartbeat were far apart, the sun was a great gold fleshy orb, and your heart was a pump attending to its own bloodstream" (141).(18)

Contrast this more extended description, in which an "as if" construction toward the end again creates a pretext (or perhaps cue) for the doubly deictic projection of a fictional you onto the audience and vice versa:

You were saying goodbye to fields and to trees, and even to headlands of fields where a plow never got and where not an ear of barley had chanced to grow. In all these corners there were bits of things, machinery, broken delft, cowhorns that had served as funnels, machine oil tins and the rags and remnants that the scarecrows wore.

You felt a terrible burden as if something inanimate might speak or something motionless might get up and move. (231-32)

Again, the you in this passage cannot be completely reduced to the you encoding, either via reference to the fictional protagonist or via self-address, a participant who is located somewhere in the indexical field of the current discourse. Yet the you does not stand in for one, either, since the amount of circumstantial detail built into the description -- the inventory of the "bits of things" left in the corners of the fields, and the partitioning of the scene into fields, trees, and headlands of fields -cannot be reconciled with the notion of an impersonal or generalized you, nor for that matter with an apostrophic you in the strict sense. Again, the deictic scope of the you encompasses more than a particularized addressee or specific discourse participant but stops short of including anyone whatsoever. The scope of you is modalized, as it were, such that it covers anyone who might conceivably be a participant in the discourse; you ranges over any context that might be activated and brought to bear on the discourse.

By the same token, interpreting doubly deictic you requires that we abandon what Hanks has characterized as the "assumption of egocentricity" in previous models for understanding deixis. A second-person fiction like O'Brien's highlights, instead, "the sociocentricity of deictic reference" (Hanks 7; contrast Anderson and Keenan 277; Frawley 280; and Levinson 64). For Hanks, referential practice reveals how "the speaking 'ego' [is itself] a social construction, [and how] the act of deictic reference is in important ways grounded on the relation between interlocutors," given that "interaction puts in play the reciprocity of perspectives, the production of mutual knowledge, conflict, and asymmetry" (Hanks 7; cf. 192ff.). Thus,

[d]eictic reference is a communicative practice based on a figure- ground structure joining a socially defined indexical ground, emergent in the process of interaction, and a referential focus articulated through culturally constituted schematic knowledge. To engage in referential practice is to locate oneself in the world, to occupy a position, however fleetingly, in one or more sociocultural fields. (Hanks 514)

The doubly deictic you of second-person fiction, similarly, forces us to resituate deixis in an indexical field that shows itself to be culturally and communicatively saturated from the start. Extending the contextual parameters of discourse beyond the spatiotemporal coordinates occupied by current speaker and current addressee, doubly deictic you suggests that discourse participation is in some sense a more primitive notion than that of discourse participant. Thus, in processing O'Brien's narrative discourse, we (the audience) are able to adopt the role of participant precisely because discourse in general encodes reference to a set of potential addressees even when pointing to an actual addressee. The doubly deictic you of second-person narratives suggests that there can be an addressee just because there could be other addressees (cf. Bakhtin 99): that is, what we deem to be actual speech situations are just part of a larger network of (more or less) virtualized speech situations toward which the current discourse is constantly tending and from which it never ceases to emerge. In this (postmodern) economy of speech, hearing can no longer be neatly distinguished from overhearing. We are eavesdroppers on the discourse that addresses us and beckoned by discourse addressed to others.


Such considerations, however, need to be (re)articulated with questions concerning the modal status of the discourse referents ascribed to you. Schematizing the results of the analysis thus far may help correlate the various deictic functions of textual you with its equally variable ontological profile. One way of reconstructing the schema included in section 4.2 would be the following:

Virtualized Actualized Deictic transferI [right arrow] you transfer Generalized you Address You as fictional Apostrophic you address

Ideally, however, this grid would itself be refined such that it reflects additional constraints on the degree of virtualization and actualization of entities referenced by you. For example, although generalized you prompts a greater degree of actualization than the I [right arrow] you deictic transfer (and/or self-address) enacted by a fictional protagonist -- the discourse referent of When you're hot, you're hot is arguably more easily assimilated to the domain of the actual than the entity evoked by you in "Jewel was the teacher's pet the way you were your mother's" (O'Brien 51) -- neither of these usages of you cues us to actualize the referent of the pronoun to the degree that apostrophic you does. Perhaps better, since it allows us to represent the position of doubly deictic you vis-a-vis the other modalities of the pronoun, we can measure the five functional types of you along the two dimensions of form- function relation and modal status:

Form/function(*)Modal Status(**) concord I [right arrow] you transfer - Generalized you - + Fictionalized address + Apostrophic you + + Double Deixis [+ or -][+ or -] * a negative value signifies disagreement; a positive value, agreement ** a negative value signifies virtuality; a positive value, actuality


The double deixis intermittently operative in A Pagan Place might be characterized, then, as a special case of metadeixis. Like linguistic theories of deixis, narrative you provokes reflection on the ways in which texts encode reference to contexts. The theories of deixis are themselves just part of the broader enterprise of linguistic pragmatics, which strives to account for inferences about meaning licensed by the situatedness of utterances in contexts (Green 63-125; cf. Herman, "Mutt and Jute"). Doubly deictic you likewise highlights narrative meanings that derive from the nonrigidity, the permeability, of the border between texts and contexts. This opening of the border between texts and contexts, enacted in different arenas of discourse by pragmatic theory and by second-person fiction, helps refocus a question that has guided my discussion in more or less implicit fashion up to now. The question is this: given that narrative you functions as part of a secondary modeling system (Lotman and Uspenskij) in which the text represents the means by which grammars encode contexts, how does the study of second-person fiction bear on classical narratological models? Do those models lack sufficient conceptual resources to account for the form and functioning of narratives one of whose most abiding concerns is the form and functioning of language itself?



Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles