Patterns of loss: ideological point of view in Alice Munro's "Soon" and "Silence". A critical linguistic approach
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‘Chance’, ‘Soon’ and ‘Silence’ are three connected stories in Alice Munro’s (2004) Runaway. In these stories, readers are led through different stages of Juliet’s life, who appears in her early twenties, then as a young mother, and finally, as a middle-aged woman. The trilogy touches upon various themes such as love, family relationships and loss. It is the latter which I feel to be central to the narrative, and the one I would like to concentrate upon. Juliet experiences the loss of her mother at the end of ‘Soon’, and the losses of her partner and her daughter in ‘Silence’. As a result, much of the story is centred around Juliet’s feelings and her ability to cope with these losses. In fact, Smythe (1992) recognises an elegiac attitude in Munro’s earlier writing and asserts that ‘an effort to control loss often is depicted in her work’ (p.106). In this regard, my research question is the following: how can linguistic criticism contribute to unveil this idea of ‘loss’? For this purpose, I have selected three passages from the stories ‘Soon’ and ‘Silence’ which are representative of the three main losses that Juliet experiences. I have conducted an analysis using Fowler’s (1996) framework on ideological point of view, which involves the examination of transitivity and modality features in the extracts chosen. My main aim will be to demonstrate how a close study of these elements is useful in revealing how Juliet’s experience is rendered through language. In addition, I will examine how certain linguistic choices can determine the reaction and feelings of the reader to a certain extent, as they construct a specific picture of the reality represented.