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You turned slowly to me. I remember the lazy roll of your head, your cheek against the vinyl strips, your hair flattened on one side, your eyelids sleepy. You said, “Do you love me?” Your voice was flirtatious, easy—you weren’t asking me to put a doubt to rest. I smiled, opened my mouth to answer, and for some reason recalled the afternoon at Sandy Point. And again I felt that burst of irritation, as if words were interposing themselves between me and the summer night. I said nothing. The silence began to swell. I could feel it pressing against both of us, like some big rubbery thing. I saw your eyes, still sleepy, begin to grow alert with confusion. And as if I were waking from a trance, I pushed away the silence, I beat it down with a yes yes yes, of course of course. You put your hand on my arm. All was well.

Steven Millhauser’s story uses sensory detail in order to explain the world that the narrator wants to live in with his wife. The story includes very little dialogue because the narrator is focused on the sounds and sites around him, and the emotions these things invoke in him. Because the story is a written first person, there is a lack of understanding of the world that the readers are familiar with more dialogue, but this allows for us as the reader to be captured into the world that the husband sees and understand what that world would be like. The readers are engulfed into the husband’s head in order to sympathize with him and understand where he is coming from with wanting a place with little to no words. In one way, the husband is similar to a lot of men because he doesn’t understand why his wife asks questions like, “Do you love me?”. He dissects what seems like a simple question, but his own interpretation of the question causes the reader to understand the problems that words cause. The details of the sounds and places are more in-depth and it is appreciated more because of the lack of dialogue. Through this sensory lens, we are more appreciative of things that often get ignored because of what a person is saying or why they are saying. This story is very interesting because Millhauser is a writer so words are important to him and they are important in the story because they are what makes the scenes come alive, but the story shows the importance of silence and the amazing world you see in silence.


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