Style and Technique

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Last Updated on May 10, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 194

Minot’s economical use of language and detail does not withhold information; readers should not conclude that there is no meaning beyond these details, that is, that the surface is all there is. The narrative economy forces one deeper into these details in any attempt to extract meaning.

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Minot’s style encourages readers to mine the surface and reveal the profundity of the ordinary. For example, Sophie’s trip to the bathroom during dinner is not an irrelevant detail. Minot tempts the reader with such facts, in effect asking what one can make of them. Treated this way, the ordinary detail becomes metaphoric, and the reader must explore the possibilities of meaning that these metaphors might contain. When Sophie walks down the hall to the bathroom, she leaves the family. This separation can be seen as merely physical, but it may also signify deeper distances between this pensive girl and her family. When she listens to the noise of the family, she is studying these people with her ear. Perhaps Minot is suggesting a role for this little girl—a role of family observer, the one who pays attention, although from a safe distance.

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Themes