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Singing Silence

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Maddie Y

on 16 October 2013

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Transcript of Singing Silence

The Singing Silence
Plot Structure
Character Development
POV Narration
Significance of Title
The pursuit of happiness
Spiritual fulfillment VS fulfillment through materialist goods
Commitment to Something One Loves Brings Happiness
"Am I truly happy?"
Why don't we just devote ourselves to doing something we love?
Vicente's pursuit of happiness
Found it in his love for the sea and dedication to finding an amphora
Vicente of Formentera

The Rich American

Narrator and Sandik
Inciting Incident:
• description of Vicente’s physical appearance
• “He was a cadaverous, bent juniper of a man, brown and lined…”
The “hook”:
• “At last I realized he was not a fisherman.” OR The narrator started talking about Vincente
Rising action:
• “There came a day when the wind blew from Africa…”
• The narrator sits down with a couple of local folks and started talking about Vincente

Inciting incident:
Description of Vicente’s distant past: “He had been an ambitious boy 60 years ago…”
The hook:
The arrival of the rich American: “One day a rich American from a Palma boat saw his frantic wave and beckoned.”
Rising action:
The Amphora
Climax (and the climax of the whole story):
Vicente dropped the amphora
The amphora forced Vicente to change his way of life
Falling action:
Vicente tried to come up with a deal to compensate for the rich American’s loss
Vicente went on to search for an amphora and hoped to bring it to the American someday
He learned to dive, and found his peace in the seawaters
“This was the most talkative time of his life, after his first dives, for he could not contain his wonder at the unexpected beauty of the deep sea.”
 “Never, he swore, had he known such freedom as at the bottom of the sea.”

The story within a story...
"Vicente has the search. It's not what he finds…but the search itself that is important. Only the search."
Narrator versus Environment
The narrator is only a visitor of the area:
"I had been coming to Formentera for several years..."

Language barrier between him and Vicente:
"I had [only] some Ibicenco, his dialect, a language quite different from the Castilian Spanish"
Vicente versus Environment
Abraham Lincoln Smith versus Vicente
The two characters clash over a broken amphora:
"he would never have the money to buy an amphora"
"he had seen the disappointment on the face of the American"

This source of conflict is the climax of the story
Vicente versus Himself
Was a man full of honour:
"Searching for the amphora which in honour he felt he must find to replace the one he had broken"
"Vicente was an honourable man and he wanted to make amends"

Yet this conflict ended with Vicente being happy
"Each day was a new delight, a new adventure"

Vicente versus Nature
The stormy weather took Vicente's life
"the wind blew from Africa and stirred up the depths of the sea and sent the high green waves scurrying"
"the little boat Vicente had borrowed was tossed back to the beach… No one saw the old man again."

Spiritual fulfillment VS fulfillment through materialist goods
Spiritual wealth > material wealth
Value of experience > possessions gained on experience
Vicente was content despite having no personal possessions to show for it

"Old Vicente of Fortnentera was perhaps the happiest man I've ever known. And also perhaps the poorest."
What do you think the title refers to?
How does it compare to the phrase "dead silence"?

Potential Meaning to the Title:
Based on the idea that the sea "sings"
Underwater is supposed to be silent but Vicente sees the beauty that lies beneath
It is a song only he can hear when underwater and muffled by its "silence"
Dead silence vs singing silence
Dead silence
Disconnected and ominous
Singing silence
Silence that is living, breathing
Full of colors, textures, and tones
An enjoyable type of silence
Potential Meaning to the Title:
Reference to the Greek mythology of sirens
Spain was a huge part of the Golden Age of Piracy
Amphora = Ancient Greek relic
Sirens lure men into the ocean with their singing before killing them
Amphora = siren
Vicente of Formentera
A poor yet dignified, happy man
"Vicente knew that he would never have the money to buy an amphora, but what was to prevent his finding one?"
"Vicente was an honorable man and he wanted to make amends."
"Day by day, week by week, month by month, and so into the years, Vicente, searching for the amphora which in honor he felt he must find to replace the one he had broken, grew happier."
"An old man, as time makes men like Vicente old. Yet he was young in his urgency to learn and go on toward the far horizon of his purpose."

Abraham Lincoln Smith
A reasonable but somewhat selfish and arrogant man
A "rich American"
"The American had paid $500 for this water jug of a Phoenician sailor, having had it verified as authentic by the authorities… he was angry."
"A sensible man [who] knew that never in a lifetime could the porter Vicente make $500, so he was resigned and ready to forget his loss"
"Annoyed by the foolish old man who had dropped his souvenir, the American had fabricated a name to get rid of him.

A somewhat insignificant character who gives us an insight into Vicente's character
"He [asked] with dignity, not pleading."
"His dignity impressed me"

An experienced diver who tells Vicente to buy a snorkel, mask, and a good pair of flippers
"[Had] a reputation as an undersea swimmer."
"[Vicente] spent the rest of his money, as Sandik advised, on a good snorkel and flippers and a mask."

• The short story is told in 2 types of point of view 1st person and 3rd person limited
• “I had been coming to Formenta for several years before Vicente stood out in my eyes.” “I watched him load the boat with the snorkel and the flippers…” “I could not understand, thinking him a fisherman…” All of these are examples of first person point of view because the author is talking about her thoughts, feelings and observations.
• “He had been an ambitions boy 60 years ago” “he had a dream…” “Vicente recognized the earthen vessel…” “Vicente knew that he would never have the money to buy an amphora...” These quotes are examples of 3rd person point of view because these are thoughts, feelings and observations that only Vicente knew. And it is limited because it is one character that the author focuses on.
• Having these two points of view in the short story is very effective because it gives layers to the story and helps you see it from different angles comparable to a camera lens. Focusing on her (the author) is like zooming in and then talking about Vicente and the fisherman is like a wide angle shot. We also get to see what others think of the main character and what he think of himself.

The Sea:
Everything revolves around the sea
The sea represents something close to a familiar and alien world
He discovered his true self, he discovered peace
The amphora: the whole story of Vicente’s life revolves around the amphora
Before the breaking of the amphora: “prison”
After the breaking of the amphora: view of life changed
He became happier and happier
The amphora thus represents a new life, or hope for Vicente.
Pandora's box?

Vicente never lived a privileged life:
"He walked the country, trying all sorts of jobs, but he ended where better men than he had ended, as a porter on the quays of Barcelona - a mozo."
"he owned not one piece of clothing that was not patched"
"He lived… in a lean-to make of stone and driftwood and brush"

The change in setting (time):
• The story now comes to the narrator’s present
• The narrator asks the local priest whether he thinks that Vicente will find an amphora

• “…the little boat Vicente had borrowed was tossed back to the beach.”
• “No one saw the old man again.”
• “But tied, securely, wrapped in seaweed at the bottom of the boat, was an amphora…”
• So, old Vicente did find the amphora, but he did not return
• The American had lied about his address
• The story concludes

Falling Action & Resolution
Questions of the Day:
Would you die with a purpose, or live aimlessly?
Is the path more important than the destination?
• Setting is the historical moment in time or geographic location. It may include culture and it imitates backdrop and mood.
• The setting in The Singing Silence is very important to the development of the characters, the mood and the theme. The setting is exotic- Island, beach, sea in Spain. “ at Calla Pujol it is easy to forget. The turquoise waters are deep and clear to the bottom, the sand is untrodden, there is a long sweep of white-silver shore” This description makes the reader imagine a very beautiful place. It also makes one think of adventure and treasures.

• The historical significance of the setting is important because it allows the author to illustrate how the amphora is viewed as priceless by one person and useless by another. “Ten years before there were still amphorae and other relics of the Greeks and Phoenicians and romans in the shallow coves of the island” “In the old days fisherman sometimes caught them in their nets. They had often thrown them back in the sea, but this they did no longer, not since the senores from the town came to buy them for their museums” “not so Vicente. He knew the value men set on these useless jugs and pots”

• The setting also supports some of the themes in the story, rich tourists and poor fisherman. Priceless treasure and old junk.
• The setting of the sea is also central in the story because the sea is mysterious and beautiful but can also be dangerous, powerful and uncertain. And it mirrors the change that take place in Vicente’s life. Sometimes calm, sometimes turbulent.
• The quays are also an important part of the setting because Vicente wanted so badly to be a porter and at the quays he was hoping for his life to take a turn for the better. But by dropping that vase his life took a turn for the worse an he spent the rest of it trying to make up for that one mistake at the quays
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