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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 69 / 185

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Landscape: Quandt and Isolation

63

Physical and emotional danger also surface in Quandt’s radio play The Silence

(1985, 30:00). The Silence is the story of an interview with Frau Klause, an older

German widow who lives on her dead husband’s farm in Alberta. Franz, Frau Klause’s

husband, fell and injured himself in the farmyard. Unable to reach safety on his own, he

froze to death in the farmyard, within sight of the kitchen window. Death by Nature has

struck again, via freezing. After Franz’s death, it became public that he was a German

SS officer guilty of war crimes. The interviewer is a male reporter who is writing a story

about Franz. He wants Frau Klause to tell him about her husband. The play’s title refers

to its explorations of both the literal definition of silence, absence of sound, and silence

as meaning what people choose to keep hidden. Frau Klause remembers the silence of

her neighbourhood as people disappeared in Nazi-occupied Europe. She learned the

value of silence after the disappearance of her parents in Germany. She recalls, “I soon

found that to speak certain words, certain questions, were dangerous. It is a useful thing,

you know, to learn to keep silent.” After moving to Alberta, she observed the silence of

neighbours: “they might have been suspicious [of Franz’s past] but, like me, they kept it

to themselves.” In this community, silence is valued.

After the reporter leaves, Frau Klause breaks her silence with the listener in the

form of a monologue. Frau Klause reveals that Franz physically and emotionally tortured

her for years after they moved to Canada. But even after Franz dies, Frau Klause never

speaks of this torture to the reporter or anyone else, the listener assumes. This silence

also fits with Atwood’s assertation that many women in Canadian literature are silent and

stoic. When asked if she ever feared her husband, Frau Klause replies, “No, never. What

was there to be afraid of? He was (deep breath) the man I married. No. I was afraid of

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