Landscape: Quandt and Isolation
She begins the play with the story of how Franz removed her from her home in Germany
(spilling her potatoes) and brought her to Canada:
Silence begins as a small dead spot. My mother's laugh. Frau Hertzaug? Kept her window open every night and played the piano and then she too was gone and we just listened to the rain. There was a net bag of potatoes on the table and Franz came into the room and said to hurry up and pack and I picked the potatoes up but he grabbed them out of my hand. The net ripped and the potatoes rolled into the corners of the room. They didn't make a sound.
At first, I thought this is such a silent place. But listen, there is no silence. When you know that it will be broken, it is no longer silence. You spend all your time waiting for it to break.
A silence breaks for Frau Klause the day Franz dies. Soon, it is replaced by a different
kind of silence. The reporter questions Frau Klause regarding the police’s interest in how
she did not hear her husband call out for help as he was freezing to death near the house.
She claims she had the radio on and she was working in the other side of the house. After
the reporter leaves, however, the full story is revealed to the listener. She finds the
silence of her prairie farmhouse different without her husband:
No, not the same silence. Broken, but stitched up slowly around me a thousand cries, a million. Theirs, the ones he murdered, and mine. My spine snapping under his boot. Bones twisting in their sockets. Eyes pressed into the soft convolutions of my brain. Skin on my knees on the stairs. The tattoo he did not know how to give. First with the needle, then with the knitting needle. Botched. I was the continuation of his ecstasy. And his cries, too. Thrown up into a vast cube of white sky, while I peeled potatoes at the kitchen window. Three potatoes. Only enough for me. The cries cancel each other out. This is the silence I have waited for.
She watched her husband die alone in the snow. Her only reaction was to peel fewer
potatoes. Years of torture have frozen Frau Klause to Franz. Psychologically, she is
unable to help him. Atwood’s Death by Nature could technically stand, but nature is
more of an instrument used by Frau Klause to liberate herself than it is a cruel or
indifferent force. After Franz’s death, she could be free of his psychopathic rages. She