Crisis/Resolution Analysis: “The Great Silence” By: Ted Chiang

This story is narrated by a parrot, which I found oddly unique and definitely not something I would normally read. Overall, Chiang was able provide big ideas and direct questions. “Why aren’t they interested in listening to our voices?” and “Aren’t we exactly what the humans are looking for?” (Chiang, 231). Chiang definitely pulls his audience in, and at times I felt like what I was reading was real. As if, this was non-fiction. A way for Chiang to open our eyes and put those thoughts/ideas into our heads. Maybe even wanting us question our own thinking? The story is delivered in sections and gives with it different mysteries that in the end, all combine as a whole. In the beginning sections, an example about the African grey, Alex is explained about how this parrot demonstrated to humans how parrots can understand concepts; such as shapes and colors. As well as a parrot’s unique contact call, how they can learn vocally, and empathizes with humans for assuming we weren’t “bright” from not recognizing a parrots intelligence right away. Next, Chiang dives into Hindu and the parrot describes the Hindu concept “the universe was created with the sound “om””. (Chiang, 235). We learn that parrots have their own myths that are at risk of dying with them, even though we are never actually told what that is exactly. But… maybe that’s the point? I am not sure if I am responding to this part correctly, since this story is different from the typical plot arc. 

As for the resolution, I feel there is no straight to the point conclusion. Aside from the parrot accepting their fate, and the upsetting realization that it cannot be changed. Not placing blame for humans being the reason for their extinction, “They just weren’t paying attention.” (Chiang, 235). The ending is not a happy one, but simply a message the parrot left with us that amplifies the sadness of the undeniable truth. Repeating what Alex, the African grey said to the researcher right before the parrot’s death, ‘You be good. I love you.” (Chiang, 236). 

But… What does “You be good. I love you.” (Chiang, 236) reveal? What does it mean?

I feel that could be the parrot barring farewell, with forgiveness. Repeating the same mantra as Alex. Sending the message out there for us to hopefully hear them. Since mankind is so focused on seeing what else is out there, instead of seeing what is right in front of us. Question is, how will we be able to forgive and love ourself? 

By: A.Stuebbe

Ted Chiang. Exhalation : Stories. Vintage, 2019. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=nlebk&AN=1868206&site=ehost-live&scope=site.