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The Silouette of Daisy Goodwill Flett

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James Offaly Canadian Lit.

Present in Her Absence: The Silhouette of Daisy Goodwill Flett The poem entitled "The Grandmother Cycle" by Daisy Goodwill Flett's

granddaughter Judith Downing, used as somewhat of a preface to the novel, discusses the inconsistency between what a person says and what a person means to say. The epigraph, of sorts, can be also considered a caveat or way to consume Daisy Goodwill Flett's fictional autobiography: The Stone Diaries. From the very moment of her birth, Daisy was hidden. Indeed, the birthing itself was vividly portrayed, yet Daisy cannot be seen. But how much of this was Carol Shields' actual intention? That is, when creating her protagonist Daisy, was Shields attempting to expose and detail Daisy by keeping her concealed within the text, allowing the reader to in fact learn more of her life? Even though the communication, altering perspective, and autobiographical accounts can at times confuse the reader as to who Daisy truly is, these techniques composed by Shields in fact offers the reader more details than she may have if written otherwise.

The varying forms and usage of communication within documents like letters, obituaries, lists, newspaper articles, and other background historical information is used to convey parts of Daisy's journey as told by herself and by

Offaly 2 others. This way of communicating Daisy's life shows the contradictions and the

limitations when getting to know her. Although the novel follows through more than eighty years, the multiple forms of communication demonstrate how the subject, Daisy, can recede from view behind the text that intends to expound her. No matter how complete the record of Daisy's journey may be, the reader is seemingly left with "an assemblage of dark voids and unbridgeable gaps" (Shields 25). It is suggested that the novel itself communicates less than a complete account of Daisy. As a person matures through their life, persona and psyche is forever changing. For this reason, Daisy's total life experience cannot be contained and broadcasted, so the novel becomes less about Daisy's life, and more about existence itself: "The recounting of a life is a cheat ... our own stories are obscenely distorted ... we keep faith with the simple container of our existence" (27). Because Shields used assorted forms of communication to explore Daisy's life, the reader is in fact left with a broader sense of who she is, and how she is seen.

Much like the variety of communicative reports regarding Daisy which make up The Stone Diaries, by veering from first to third-person narrative and past and present tenses, Shields has undergone a complex attempt to draw out a complete and veracious report of Daisy's life and character. Daisy is developed both through her own voice as first-person narrator and through a third-person narrator. The immediacy of first-person narrative provides personal acuity, whereas third-person allows distance and overview so to be more critical. Daisy, being both the subject of the story and, in some cases, the storyteller allows for a more rounded sense of

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character. In the following excerpt, change in point of view can happen radically

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