Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 308
The very beginning of Brian Moore's dramatic 1990 novel Lies of Silence is itself noteworthy. During the protagonist Michael Dillon's discussion with the banquet manager at the hotel where he works, the manager reminds him that reverend Alun Pottinger will be speaking the next day. When Michael claims that he forgot, the manager asks, "will there be special security?" Michael answers, "I don't think so. He has his own minders. How many private luncheons do you have?" The banquet manager replies, "In the banquet rooms I have four. Full up. And the dining room is fully booked." This beginning seems to introduce the characters by means of a trivial conversation; however, it is actually a critical detail that sets in motion the plot, as Michael will be attacked by the Irish Republican Army in order that they can, through him, bomb this hotel the following day. Thus, this quote demonstrates the potential cost of human lives.
Michael calls himself a "failed poet in a business suit," and as the narration explains, he is having an extramarital affair:
and he believed—although he could not explain why—that she loved him . . . he did not think of this as an affair. He had never been unfaithful before. He was filled with the excitement of being in love and sick with the fear of losing her.
This introduction helps characterize Michael as not innately unfaithful, but rather misguided and frustrated as a would-be poet.
The narrator elaborates on the "lies" of the title, explaining that they are
Lies told over the years to poor Protestant working people, lies told to poor Catholic working people . . . . lies at funerals and orations, and, above all, lies of silence from those in Westminster who did not want to face the injustices of Ulster's status quo.
For these lies, as the ending reveals, some people pay dearly.