(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Written by a psychotherapist, “Silver Water” dares to be funny about a very serious subject, the mental illness of a family member. The story is told in the first person by Violet, the sister of the mentally ill Rose, and begins with an anecdote about the sisters being taken to see the opera La Traviata when Violet was twelve and Rose was fourteen. After the opera, in the parking lot, Rose says, “Check this out” and opens her mouth and sings with what Violet describes as a voice like mountain water in a silver pitcher. Violet relates this incident to all of Rose’s therapists, wanting them to know that before she started aimlessly singing commercials and fast-food jingles, there had been Puccini and Mozart and hymns so sweet “you expected Jesus to come down off his cross and clap.” Violet wants everyone to understand that before Rose became psychotic and gained so much weight that she had to wear maternity tops and sweatpants, she was the prettiest girl in Arrandale Elementary School.

Rose had her initial psychotic break, first recognized by her mother, Galen, and sadly acknowledged by her psychiatrist father, David, when she was fifteen. Violet describes the family therapists they take Rose to see and how the family hates them. The worst therapist they take Rose to see refers to her in the third person even though she is present, a fact that Violet points out and with which the entire family agrees. The best family therapist they...

(The entire section is 499 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

Violet’s sister, Rose, starts experiencing schizophrenia as a teenager. Violet remembers Rose before the mental illness hit her, as a...

(The entire section is 619 words.)