Last Updated on July 11, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 544
Be loyal to the story.
The old woman who is the central character of the first part of the story provides sound advice for writing and storytelling. With reference to the title, this is, Dinesen implies, how authors fill up the sometimes intimidating "blank page." They must, above all things,...
(The entire section contains 544 words.)
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Be loyal to the story.
The old woman who is the central character of the first part of the story provides sound advice for writing and storytelling. With reference to the title, this is, Dinesen implies, how authors fill up the sometimes intimidating "blank page." They must, above all things, be loyal to the story that needs to be told, and Dinesen doesn't have just one story to tell in "The Blank Page." The effect of the frame tale form is that the reader's perspective is constantly shifting until the very last line. This story is a nested series of stories, none of which are ever finished. And perhaps, like the ending, that is the point. We are all living stories, forever changing, with stories that continue to be written.
But we, the faithful, when we have spoken our last word, will hear the voice of silence.
This is spoken by the old woman but is also reflected in the last story in the series of tales with which the reader is presented. The blank, pure white linen is what captivates women who study the sheet that bears no princess's name. The silence that follows is foreshadowed here, circling back to the importance of being loyal to the story, regardless of "whether a small snotty lass understands it or not."
Diligence, dear Master and Mistress, is a good thing, and religion is a good thing, but the very first germ of a story will come from some mystical place outside the story itself.
In this section of the story, the writing or storytelling process is likened to "grow[ing] the finest flax and manufactur[ing] the most exquisite linen." To be able to do either requires that the right seeds are planted. A story, then, begins with a seed planted in the storyteller's life. This could originate in personal experience, another story, a conversation, an image, or countless other experiences. But through all of the seeds that are daily planted in a storyteller's life, only some of the seeds take root and grow. They become ideas that become stories, and the most beautiful and exquisite stories grow into ideas that must be captured on the blank page. Yet the blank page itself—symbolizing the unspoken and unknown—has a silent power all its own:
But in the midst of the long row there hangs a canvas which differs from the others. The frame of it is as fine and as heavy as any, and as proudly as any carries the golden plate with the royal crown. But on this one plate no name is inscribed, and the linen within the frame is snow-white from corner to corner, a blank page.
What is the story of this one lone sheet which bears no name? Did this princess decide not to marry at all? Did she die during the act of consummation? And what exactly captivates other women as they stand there? This ending, which leaves the reader with unanswered questions, illustrates the power of the "blank page" to create a sense of the mysterious. The seeds of life experiences grow into stories that need to be told, yet it is, as the old storyteller says, ultimately "silence" that speaks when a tale is faithfully told.