1. Can you briefly summarize the plot of “Silence”? Use the present tense.
2. What adjectives does Juliet use to describe her daughter? (par.2 page83) Although we never meet Penelope in person here, we do see her through other characters than her mother. Who are these characters?
3. Joan, Penelope’s spiritual guide at the retreat, is described mainly through a dialogue with Juliet. Does she come across as truly sincere? What do you make of Joan’s words referring to Penelope when she says:”…she [penelope] has come to us here in great hunger. Hunger for the things that were not available to her in her home.” What “things” and “hunger” for what?
4. What is your impression of Joan? When she tells Juliet that Penelope’s decision not to let her mother know where she had gone is “ the right thing for her spirituality and growth”, what is Juliet’s reaction? (par.1 p.86) Which word in particular angers Juliet and why?
5. Joan appears friendly, understanding, even tender, but Juliet feels otherwise. How does she feel about Joan and what, in your view, are the issues impacting their interaction? Can you think of the conflict of similar nature in the previous story “Soon”?
6. Halfway through “Silence,” Munro uses another flashback that takes us back to the time when Penelope was thirteen and on her way to a camping holiday. Why was Eric against that trip? What is the reason of Juliet and Eric’s “quarrel”?
7. How does Eric’s infidelity that took place 12 years prior affect their marriage in that flashback episode? (p.95). How would you describe their marriage before Eric’s death anyway?
8. How does Munro describe Juliet’s grieving over Eric’s death? Before answering this question, re-read closely the paragraphs on pp. 101 and 102. How would you describe the narrator’s tone here? Can you spot a metaphor that captures how Juliet feels about Eric’s death? (p.102) What would be a clinical term used to describe Juliet’s mental and emotional state?
9. In what sense is Juliet’s friendship with Christa ironic? How would you characterize their friendship? Any comment on how the narrator describes Christa’s death? “Christa grew thinner and moodier. Quite suddenly, one January, she died.” (p.105)
10. How does Juliet’s re-making of the end of “Aethiopica” mirror her own wishes? Is Joan (Mother Shipton) ,in your view, a genuine spiritual guide meant for Penelope or is she a charlatan, like the ones from the story, who misguided Juliet’s daughter for her own self-serving reasons? Do we ever know for sure why Penelope abandoned her mother?
11. How would you characterize Juliet’s relationships with men toward the end of the story?
12. How do Heather’s revelations about her chance meeting with Penelope in Edmonton hint at some possible reasons why Penelope might have disapproved of her mother? What kind of life and values did Penelope repudiate by leaving her mother?
13. What do you make of the story’s concluding words:” She [Juliet] keeps on hoping for a word from Penelope, but not in a strenuous way. She hopes as people who know better hope for undeserved blessings, spontaneous remissions, things of that sort.”
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