Why I Live at the P.O.
Point of View and the Unreliable Narrator
The story is told exclusively from Sister’s viewpoint and is thus subject to her distorting interpretations. From the story’s opening paragraph, Sister is busily building her case against her family, blaming most of her discomfort and anguish on Stella-Rondo’s sudden return to the family home. She recounts the injustices done to her and angles for sympathy from her audience. She is a skillful manipulator and often addresses the audience directly to call attention to particularly egregious offenses. When Stella-Rondo accuses her of scoffing at Uncle Rondo’s kimono, she calls on the reader to corroborate her claim that she was actually sticking up for Uncle Rondo. When Stella-Rondo first arrives wearing an ugly hat, Sister addresses the reader, saying, “I wish you could see it.” By pulling readers directly into the story, Sister attempts to garner sympathy and understanding.
Sister’s manipulation ultimately makes her an unreliable narrator because she conveys her own version of the truth while failing to recognize her own pettiness and jealousy. Between her harsh, mean-spirited judgments and refusal to truly communicate or connect with others, she is guilty of the same transgressions of which she claims to be a victim. Sister believes that a change of venue is the solution to her difficult family relations, but her departure is really an act of cowardice. Instead of facing the difficulties and tensions, she is simply running away from the truth.