Teolinda Gersão's debut novel, O silêncio, addresses two issues which several prominent feminist writers and critics have discussed: women's search for identity, and the difficulty women encounter when expressing themselves in a man's world. To this second point, this discussion has been varied but comes to a consensus around the need for women to vocalize as a means of asserting themselves. However, the approach that O silêncio brings to this matter is completely the opposite, revealing instead how silence-a form of controlled non-speech-can be more empowering than words. The novel comes to this conclusion as the protagonist Lídia-a headstrong young woman-attempts to discover and express her own identity. Her search leads her into a relationship with Afonso, a middle-aged man in a stale marriage, and also causes her to recall and reinvent images from her past in order to envision her future. Although the novel has received some harsh criticism due to its labyrinthine narrative structure, the complexity of the narrative causes the novel's relationship with its readers to closely mimic Lídia's relationship with Afonso. The novel seems to resist our efforts to understand it, just as she earnestly seeks to thwart his efforts to control and silence her.
College and Department
Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Jeffery, Robert Marcus, "“Há um Mundo que Se Quebra Quando Eu (Não) Falo": Women's Speech and the Power of Silence in Teolinda Gersão’s O silêncio" (2013). Theses and Dissertations. 3619.
feminist theory, women's speech, silence, Teolinda Gersão, Portugal