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Last Updated on July 10, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 437

The Old Storyteller

The old storyteller sets up this frame narrative by explaining her background and the significance of oral tradition. She was trained in storytelling by her grandmother, and her grandmother was trained by her own grandmother. So, in effect, the old woman narrates, she has become one with the stories of her heritage:

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I am most highly honored because I have told stories for two hundred years.

Her grandmother has trained her to be fiercely loyal to the story that needs to be told and to offer no explanations; in the end, the "silence will speak." Each listener will create meaning from their own experience. For a storyteller to provide meaning is to rob the listener of their own blank page, the need to create their own story. The old woman speaks indirectly, giggling at her own antics. She is comfortable in her abilities and confident in her message. And then she leads into her story, disappearing from the plot itself.

The Carmelite Sisters

The Carmelite order to which the sisters in the old woman's tale belong has existed for hundreds of years and has transformed over time. The order once consisted of many noblewomen and thus had much money; it is reported that many miracles once took place at the convent. However, over time, "highborn ladies grew less keen on fasting and prayer," and now only a few humble sisters live in the remains of their former grandeur.

These sisters have been tasked with growing the finest flax and producing the most luxurious linens in Portugal. These linens are given to princesses to use on their wedding nights and are then displayed in the...

(The entire section contains 437 words.)

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