Posted by: Katherine | January 9, 2008

The Silence of the Lambs

I remember when I was 12 asking to see the film. My Poppop and dad kept raising the age at which I would be permitted to see it until it got up into the lower 40s. I “triumphed” and saw it when I was 12. It is a good film. But I never read the book until this past week or so. As good as a movie the film is, the book is even better and for two primary reasons. First, in the book, Jack Crawford has a lot more to him and his relationship with Clarice is much more significant. He becomes very much a dear friend as well as a father figure to her. This of course adds depth and emotion to the story not present in the film.

The second reason I find even more interesting. In the book, Buffalo Bill would let his victims go in his darkened basement and, using his night vision goggles, literally hunt them. It is reiterated repeatedly in the book that Dr. Lector seeks only to amuse himself. Once he ceases to be amused, he either switches off or becomes violent. Clarice Starling seeks out plight and hunts those who cause it. All three of the characters are hunting or seeking something. Bill’s hunt ends in his death. Lector’s search ends in exile as a fugitive. Starling’s is the only one that ends in the silence of the screaming lambs. Only Starling’s search ends in the blessed silence and peace. Bill’s hunt is over. Lector’s search will continue but only as others search for him. Starling’s will be the hardest to maintain because she will have to earn it over and over again, as Lector observes, because there will always be plight. Yet her search will always have the greatest reward.

This theme and subtle point made me wonder if the author was just a teeny bit asking the reader, “What is it you seek and what will your end be?”

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