"I suppose that people, using themselves and each other so much by words, are at least consistent in attributing wisdom to a still tongue"

This universal truth is reflected in the proverbs of diverse cultures, ancient and modern. The Bible states “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17.28). The Germans maintain that “speech is silver; silence is golden”; the Japanese that “silence surpasses speech”. At the heart of these expressions is the assumption that silence is a space of reflection in which true enlightenment can be attained. Faulkner ironically juxtaposes this with Quentin’s sense that he has been betrayed by language; that he has been hoodwinked into believing the standards of honour and propriety to which it has given substance accurately represent the real world. The revelation that this is far from being the case impels him to articulate his pain by embracing the ultimate silence.