I found point of view to be one of the most intriguing aspects of the short story “Yours” by Mary Robison. The author creates an air of uncertainty through her use of third-person omniscient point of view, a feeling that is only added to by her utilization of past tense.
Third-person omniscient point of view allows the narrator to reveal the thoughts of more than one character without explicitly changing point of view like third person shifting omniscient. This type of viewpoint can be beneficial to the reader since it allows them to understand the thoughts of more than one character, but it can also be confusing and reveal frustratingly little information. In the case of “Yours,” the use of third-person omniscient errs on the side of confusing. In the beginning of the story, the narrator reveals Allison’s thoughts, and in the end, the reader gets to see the thoughts of her husband, Clark. Part of what makes this point of view so confusing is the brevity of the story. It is so short that the reader is unable to spend adequate time with each character and so is unable to understand them fully. Robison also seems to be deliberately vague when detailing the thoughts of her characters.
“Yours” is also told in past tense. Past tense is indicative of a retrospective point of view, or one in which the narrator is talking about an event that happened to them in the past. This point of view can sometimes make the events of the story clearer, as the speaker is looking back on them and should theoretically understand them better than they did at the age at which they experienced the events, but this is not the case with “Yours.”
I do believe, however, that Robison’s use of third-person omniscient point of view in the past tense was a wise decision that fits well with the concept of her story. Allison never specifies what exactly is wrong with her, making it all the more shocking when she begins to die at the end of the story. The situation with Clark’s family is also never explained, so the reader is left to wonder why his family wrote him such “extremely unkind” things in a recent letter to him. The reader can make inferences about both of the main characters that can be supported by the text – such as Allison may be dying of cancer due to the “natural-hair wig” she wears, and Clark’s family could be angry that he married such a young woman and think that she only wants him for his money – but we can never be sure what Robison really means.