“Silence” by Alice Munro #50

Runaway: Stories

While quite a few of the stories I have reviewed here have dealt with a woman’s inability to have children, or the early death of a child, this one deals with child loss in a different way. While Penelope has done various activities without her mother, such as taking bus trips to Mexico and going on a hitchhiking trip to Newfoundland, she has never lived without Juliet, her mom. The past six months have been the longest that Juliet has been without her daughter. Penelope has been at the Spiritual Balance Centre during that time and has not been in contact with her mother that entire time, until just recently. The last note she had received had said, "Hope to see you Sunday afternoon. It’s Time." Juliet was really looking forward to seeing her again. Too bad she will not actually see her that Sunday. Or next Sunday. Or the even month after that.

This story is a bit intriguing in that it discusses the lack of contact between family members without some crime or known falling out being described. We watch as Juliet tries to rationalize the reasons why her twenty year-old daughter is suddenly no longer in contact with her after coming out of the center. There isn’t really any investigation element in the story, so don’t go into this thinking that there will be a mystery to solve. It is more of a psychological drama, with much of it discussing Juliet’s family past. It is a bit disheartening to read as Juliet suffers through so much silence from her daughter, and I couldn’t help but hope that the situation would improve for her. It is a helpful in the sense that it can remind us of our need to stay in contact with our loved ones if we have neglected them. That can be a bitter pill to swallow, and maybe necessary to take. You can read this in Runaway: Stories.

Content Advisory: Drunkenness, Sexual Situations


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