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At the beginning of the excerpt, Juliet has just learned of Penelope’s whereabouts, after fifteen years of no communication between them. From the coincidental encounter with Heather, Juliet also discovers that Penelope has been silently keeping track of her as well, as Heather says: “she said you were still living here” (Munro 109). This grand revelation sends Juliet into a trance, in which she toils over the complex feelings that she has associated with Penelope since her departure. From page 110 to the end of the story, the constant shifts in Juliet’s outlook constitute her trajectory of consciousness, and gradually ease into a resolution when Juliet is finally able to put her troubled mind at ease. Despite being granted the information that she has hungered for so long, Juliet responds to Heather’s news rather nonchalantly, and does not attempt to inquire more about Penelope. Her unusual reaction to the unexpected news gives emphasis to Juliet’s tendency to stay silent throughout the novel – a method which she employs to empower her inner processes. In spite of Juliet’s reserved demeanor, her mind is filled with endless questions regarding her daughter’s life. As a result, the majority of the passage conveys a bittersweet atmosphere, as Juliet battles between feelings of resentment towards Penelope and her overwhelming joy. Having no contact with Penelope for years, Juliet feels a strong urge to pinpoint where her daughter is living to reassure that Penelope is safe: “That meant she must live in Whitehorse or in Yellowknife” (110). It is important to note that this piece of information does not benefit their relationship in any way, as the locations are too vague for Juliet to organize a visit. Thus, Juliet’s speculation likely stems from a genuine concern for her daughter’s well-being. However, as Juliet proceeds, the tone of her thoughts shifts from reassured to rather materialistic. She relies on the few details given by Heather to further speculate about Penelope’s living conditions: “That meant a private school. That meant money”. Earlier in the novel, Juliet admits to having wanted to “establish Eric as an educated man” (50), and takes great pride in her scholastic achievements as well. Her focus on individual accomplishments seems to portray Juliet as a status-conscious and critical woman, who uses the same measurement on her daughter. Her judgemental side also takes notice of Heather’s comment on Penelope’s unkempt appearance: “Did that mean she had aged? That she was out of shape after five pregnancies, that she had not taken care of herself?” (110). To some extent, Juliet’s critical evaluations are evident of her internalization of societal demands. Although she invariably rebels against society’s imposed standards, Juliet also subconsciously yearns for its acceptance at times. This notion brings to the foreground her experience in “Soon”: “And here she was, redeemed. Like any other young woman, pushing her baby” (56). Throughout Juliet’s life, women are placed under a strong pressure to conform; therefore, it is possible that Juliet also wants her daughter to display the traits of a conventional woman, just like others: “As Heather had. As Juliet had, to a certain extent” (110). The phrase in italics: “taken care of herself?” (110) also gives credence to the preceding claim. On one level, it captures our attention, creating a sense of disturbance on the page that is indicative of Juliet’s — and society’s — horrified reaction at Penelope’s self-neglect. On another level, italics in literature are often associated with memories; thus, the phrase might be a reverberation of what Juliet has been told during her childhood, which she unconsciously passes on to her daughter. Interestingly, this cycle of persecution resonates strongly with Munro’s own experience. In her interview, she recalls aspiring to be a married woman as it was “the only way you become successful”, even though she strives to break free from the constraints imposed by her community. Hence, her identity conflict is an important aspect about Juliet that Munro treasures about her. As Juliet ponders Heather’s update on Penelope, her past speculations about her daughter’s life resurface. There is a tonal shift from captious to amused as she notices the sharp contrast between her version of Penelope and reality. “Not at all” (111) – the revelation hits Juliet as she realizes how Penelope’s unexpected prosperous lifestyle shows how little she actually understands about her daughter now. The sense of estrangement that encompasses Juliet’s life once again reemerges, which adds nuance to the superficial amusement of the moment. As Juliet has always done when she encounters a loss, Juliet decides to laugh it off: “If she ever met Penelope again they might laugh about how wrong Juliet had been.” (111). As a matter of fact, Juliet’s inappropriate response to dismal situations is a recurring theme throughout the trilogy. For instance, Juliet jokes about “throwing herself into the flames” (97) at Eric’s cremation, much to the horror of others. Thus, laughter can be interpreted as Juliet’s means of self-medication, as it allows her to be emotionally detached from the traumatic events. Since there is no way to contact Penelope, Juliet relies on laughter to shield herself from the immense pain and suffering that have been haunting her since Penelope’s departure. However, the next advance in Juliet’s thought process marks a watershed in her mentality. Only when she has reached the end of her personal journey does Juliet break free from her false consciousness, and courageously confront the bleak reality of her relationship with Penelope: “Too many things had been jokes” (111). Finally, Juliet comes to the realization that her coping mechanism may have been detrimental to Penelope’s development, as it seems to convey a lack of stability on her part: “She had been lacking in motherly inhibitions and propriety and self-control” (111). Although this crisis of consciousness casts a somber light on the passage, it is also tremendously empowering as Juliet gathers the courage to firmly reject the negative tendency that characterizes her: “No. No. The fact was surely that she had already laughed too much about Penelope” (111). Juliet’s acknowledgement of her mistake and her regretful tone reveal remarkable emotional maturity on her part, contrary to her past behaviors. Thus, Juliet is portrayed as a character with great resilience — a trait highly valued by Munro as it is reflective of her personal growth following Katherine’s death. For years, Munro had not mentioned her deceased daughter and was reluctant to acknowledge her importance, similarly to how Juliet has decided to put Penelope aside. Munro’s eventual decision to construct a tomb for Katherine is symbolic of her finally coming to terms with loss, and so Juliet’s resignation truly resonates with Munro’s personal struggles. On the other hand, Juliet’s strength – even in her most vulnerable state – also speaks to whoever that has experienced great suffering. Life can be unjust and cruel at times, so it is in our best interest to accept loss as an integral aspect of our existence and move forward. After Juliet becomes fully aware of her active role in the tragedy, she is able to confront the breach with renewed self-control and dignity. As a result, her mindset begins to take a pragmatic approach as well, despite the highly emotional situation. For a fleeting moment, Juliet wonders whether Penelope’s keeping track of her is a signal of her yearning for a reunion, but she dismisses such hope quickly: “Nothing. Don’t make it mean anything” (111). Juliet also ponders the idea of going to Yellowknife to find her daughter, but she rejects it as well: “She must not be so mad” (111). Indeed, Penelope’s departure has left an emotional scar, but it also strengthens Juliet’s will and allows her to effectively re-evaluate her objectives in life: “There was nothing to worry about, or hold herself in wait for, concerning Penelope” (112). Yet, much as Juliet tries, she can never fully disregard the maternal bond she once had with Penelope: “Did she say Juliet? Or Mother. My Mother” (112). The italics once again arrest our attention, providing an abrupt tonal shift from practical and detached to pained, as Juliet recalls how endearing Penelope used to address her. Yet, Juliet refuses to share this intimate aspect of her to anyone: “She had never spoken to him about Penelope” (112). Contrary to how Juliet’s silence often grants her great introspective power throughout the trilogy, there seems to be a more restrictive dimension to it this time. In this instance, Juliet’s silence functions as a punishment, as the anguish is so profound that it has effectively inhibited Juliet from voicing her thoughts.Her mental direction becomes less defined as Juliet works through her tumultuous emotions. On one hand, Juliet still harbors deep affection towards Penelope, and clings to the hope that her daughter feels the same way about her. However, her reasoning prevents Juliet from indulging in such fantasy: “Nor did Penelope exist. The Penelope Juliet sought was gone” (112), reminding her that the current Penelope is a foreign entity. Consequently, Juliet’s psychological conflict exhibits a sense of ambiguity that makes it hard for us to accurately determine her true feelings. Regardless of the apathetic statement – “nobody Juliet knew” (112), we can detect the presence of deeper, repressed emotions beneath Juliet’s cold facade, which makes her assertion rather unconvincing. Even Juliet herself questions the validity of such affirmation: “Does Juliet believe this?” (112). The fact that such trauma remains unresolved and unvocalized suggests that Juliet is still not ready for a new beginning: “It was probably on this evening that they both understood they would never be together” (112). Her reflection is tinged with sadness and remorse, yet Juliet willingly endures her sorrow. Notably, Juliet’s resignation also provides a parallel to her empathy towards Penelope. Similar to how Juliet acknowledges her faults in the breach, she also understands that her secrets will always prevent her from having a meaningful relationship with Gary. Hence, Juliet’s ability to take responsibility portrays her as a strong and resilient character, even at her most vulnerable state. Nevertheless, Juliet’s independent nature unfortunately confines her within her internal realm. Since Juliet strongly identifies with silence as a virtue, the only moment when she attempts to reach out once again remains unspoken, taking the form of an internalized monologue. As opposed to her reticent manner, Juliet’s inner thoughts effectively illustrate her multifaceted perspective on Penelope’s character. Additionally, the tone of the passage fluctuates as Juliet moves from one theory to another about Penelope’s motive. At first, she appears cynical and self-accusatory: “I believe, it dawned on her how much she wanted to stay away” (112). Considering how Penelope had left without a word of farewell, Juliet has no choice but to assume the worst about herself and their relationship. However, a faint tinge of hope appears as Juliet ponders the possibility that Penelope’s silence is purely out of embarrassment: “It’s maybe the explaining to me that she can’t face. Or has not time for, really” (113). Indeed, Penelope’s refusal to reach out might be a negative indication, but it also creates room for alternative interpretations. Through her assessment of the situation, we can see another positive dimension of Juliet — her objectivity. Her thoughtful approach not only allows Juliet to have an optimistic outlook, but also compels her to accept Penelope for who she is: “Some fineness and strictness and purity, some rock-hard honesty in her” (113). This novel realization that there is no answer to her situation finally resigns Juliet’s mind, and her tone softens: “Maybe she can’t stand me. It’s possible” (113). Even though it is a negative assumption, the indication of other possibilities produces a strangely uplifting effect. In spite of the fear and anxiety that Penelope’s silence induces, Juliet’s astuteness in her observation is an important quality that Munro respects about her. The tension that has been hovering over the story is finally resolved at the end of the story, as Juliet discovers a new sense of purpose in her life. As a result, her mentality enters a transcendentalistic state that effectively removes the constraints of Juliet’s past. She continues to devote herself to Classics; however, Juliet develops a different approach this time: “The word studies does not seem to describe very well what she does—investigations would be better” (113). The sharp distinction between two activities is emphasized by the italics, indicating that Juliet is no longer grounded within the boundaries of the texts. By contrast, she is now free to draw new connections, and experiment with exotic ideas. Her self-liberation also carries forward into other aspects of Juliet’s life. Although the reconciliation with Penelope may never occur, Juliet nonetheless has faith in an unknown future, which helps ease her anxiety and remorse: “She keeps on hoping for a word from Penelope, but not in any strenuous way” (113). Here, Juliet’s silence no longer serves as a punishment – it now empowers her to leave the past behind, and appreciates life as it happens. The trilogy ends on a bittersweet note, which signifies that it is not Munro’s intention to communicate a clear moral message to the readers. Instead, she wants to fully depict the psychological struggles that Juliet experiences, and explain the motives behind her actions – or inaction – via her thoughts. In the face of adversity, Juliet exudes remarkable emotional strength, which is largely empowered by her thoughtful moments of silence. From the way Juliet deals with loss, we also come to understand the importance of faith and hope. Only by believing in a better future can we find values in our existence and make progress, regardless of the reality.