Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee has received consistent critical attention since its publication in 1982. This paper notes that there has not been much study focusing on various points of view this work employs. Ironically, the scarcity can be attributed to the critical attention on the narrator of Dictee, which shocked critics of Asian American literature with its unusual hybridity and multiplicity.
This paper explores second person point of view appearing, especially, in ‘Calliope’, ‘Erato’, and ‘Terpsichore’ chapter. While second-person point of view is rarely used in narrative, when it is employed, it activates a reader’s role by addressing the reader as ‘you.’ Frequently it is not clear whether the pronoun ‘you’ is referring to a character, a narratee, or an actual reader, and therefore it is up to the reader to decide to whom ‘you’ refers, and during the process, the reader gets involved with the narrative as a more active participant.
For example, in ‘Calliope’, readers are forced to move from a narrative situation to another, and the other without notice or appropriate transition. To most of readers, there exists at least one situation in which they cannot understand or sympathize with, and, this paper argues, the irreconcilability is exactly what Hak Kyung Cha intends for the readers when she addresses them with the pronoun “you.” Dictee’s readers are confronted with the unfilled chasm in understanding of history and reality, and are stimulated to recognize how history and reality are constituted according to gender, political, religious, and racial hierarchy. In ‘Erato,’ readers are carefully guided to sympathize with Gertrud, an oppressed female character in Carl Dreyer’s film, through gradual approach to her. In ‘Terpsichore,’ readers fluctuate between the role of narratee and observer without finally deciding with whom they will identify, and this fluctuation is connected to the experience and existence of boundary beings such as immigrants, exiles, the colonized, and women under patriarchy. Thus Dictee uses second-person point of view in diverse ways to activate reader’s role and communicate with readers.