The Homecoming

“Perhaps the Fact That They Move is More Significant”: The Mother and Whore in Pinter’s Homecoming

The works of Harold Pinter question the traditional views of language and communication, asking the audience to reconsider the hierarchal relationship between speech/silence, presence/absence, and the role of each opposition in the struggle for power and dominance, whether in the context of class structure or gender. Is silence the absence of speech, what is truly present in vocal speech? In his essay “Language,” Martin Heidegger writes, “We are always speaking, even when we do not utter a single word” (187), silence is not a nothingness, lack, or absence; it speaks and communicates – leading to Pinter’s theory of “two silences.” The two categories of silence are:

One when no word is spoken. The other when perhaps a torrent of language is employed. This speech is speaking of a language locked beneath it…The speech we hear is an indication of what we don’t hear. It is a necessary avoidance…When true silence falls we are still left with echo but are nearer nakedness (518). (footnote 1)

In this instance, vocalized speech becomes an evasion, an interruption, a repetition; a sign always referring to something else, deferring the presence of our true intention, with the hope of leading astray – it is silence. What is true silence?...

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