The Power of Silence Essay

The Power of Silence Essay

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Within the two short stories this paper shall focus, the use of silence allows for a deeper understanding of the main characters and the dynamic of their relationships. By keeping secrets locked inside themselves, the characters within these stories suffer. Within Joy Kogawa's short story that is called “Obasan”, the secrets the family keeps about their past internment in Japanese-Canadian camps is the cause for estranged relationships and, to a certain extent, death. The silence that this family embraces to protect themselves in actually only hurts them on a personal, physical and emotional level, particularly for Obasan herself. Within the short story by Eden Robinson, which is called “Queen of the North”, the secrets kept by the main character, Adelaine, have a tremendous influence on her relationships with the other characters. In this story, the power of all the things that are left unsaid and unanswered depict the damage that remaining silent about a traumatic event may have on the emotional and psychological makeup of a character. Both Obasan and Adelaine internalize the traumatic events within their lives, and though this silence damages them in different ways, it most assuredly has a negative impact on both of their lives.
The first story to consider is that of “Obasan”, which is written by Joy Kogawa. Within this story, Kogawa is critical of the impact that silence has on the human psyche. She is critical of this because, as her story indicates, silence in and of itself does a remarkable degree of damage to the human psyche. This can be seen with the titular character of this story, Obasan herself. Obasan is depicted as being a relatively silent individual herself, and in her own way, enveloped in the quiet. The story...


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...s appears to be the most likely of the situations, given her actions at the end of the story. When she takes a clot from her period and puts it in a box with a note reading “It was yours so I killed it” (1222), she has already confronted and ensured that her Uncle will never touch her again. This action, then, is how Adelaine is finally capable to let go of her self enforced silence. It is interesting that such a notion relies on something that the audience does not know for certain.



Works Cited

Kogawa, Joy. "Obasan." An Anthology of Canadian Literature in English. Ed. Donna Bennett and Ed. Russell Brown. Third. Canada: Oxford University Press, 2010. 752-757. Print.


Robinson, Eden. "Queen of the North." An Anthology of Canadian Literature in English. Ed. Donna Bennett and Ed. Russell Brown. Third. Canada: Oxford University Press, 2010. 1207-1222. Print.

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