Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

A pure and ancient tradition, whenever preserved with integrity, may reveal to perceptive persons deeper truths than are ordinarily apprehended. Such a truth, a vision of truth, or an epiphany, is the revelation and the theme of “The Blank Page.” Many continuing traditions intertwine and illustrate this view in this story. The tradition of storytelling itself is traced through a long lineage, back to a grandmother’s grandmother and even back to the time when Scheherazade herself told a thousand and one tales. The continuing tradition and blessing of growing flax and making fine linen comes from the Holy Land, from the Jewish bride Achsah to Portugal, to the Carmelite sisters, the brides of Christ. The blessing pronounced on the Blessed Virgin, her Immaculate Conception, and the promise through Christ of spiritual salvation, continues to be a promise of spiritual salvation to the virginal sisters of the convent. The tradition of publicizing and preserving the evidence of virginity comes from olden days to within living memory, according to the storyteller.

The tradition of storytelling produces good stories. The tradition of flax growing produces good linen. The tradition of publicized morality brings about public recognition of that morality. The tradition of spiritual seeking brings about the promised salvation. By establishing the norm, traditions maintain their standards, but they also tend to stereotype and limit personal discovery.


(The entire section is 441 words.)