The Mother of All Questions - A Short History of Silence Summary & Analysis

Rebecca Solnit
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Summary

Solnit begins her essay with an evocative allegory for silence which describes, as the title of the first of four sections, “The Ocean Around the Archipelago”: “Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard. It surrounds the scattered islands made up of those allowed to speak and of what can be said and who listens. Silence occurs in many ways for many reasons; each of us has his or her own sea of unspoken words” (17). Through the essay she aims to articulate what has not been articulated and gain an understanding of how and why things remain unarticulated.

Solnit identifies an essential difference between “quiet” and “silence”: quiet stands for such desirable states of being as rest and contemplation, which are all chosen by the person; silence, conversely, is what is imposed against...

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This section contains 2,153 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Mother of All Questions Study Guide
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