The Silence of the Lambs (Second Half)–Group 1

Silence of the Lambs is an almost intfinitely allusive novel, persistently referencing known people, places, and things to tell its story.  In the slides, I talked about Florence, Belvedere, Orvietto, Threave, and several other prisons, dungeons and forts.  Find a reference to a real world person, place or thing not already discussed in the slides and explain how the book’s reference to it works in the novel as a whole or simply in the paragraph where it appears.  Don’t choose a reference that someone else has posted about in your group.  There are many, many possibilities available: Picasso, expressway overpasses and rivers that you could probably find on Google maps, buildings, insect life, food, TV shows, and dozens more.    

It would be helpful to include paste in a link to an image of the person, place, or think you’re writing about.

2 thoughts on “The Silence of the Lambs (Second Half)–Group 1

  1. Madison Brito

    Pop culture references are used throughout the novel, and it’s particularly fascinating to see them used as a way to characterize a person. Chilton is repeatedly characterized as a fool and incompetent even while occupying a position of formal power. In one instance as he’s trying to assert himself, asking Starling for information and explaining how he deserves it as he’s not merely the keyholder to only let people in, he says he “had a ticket to Holiday on Ice.” And how “he realized he’d said a ticket. In that instant Starling saw his life, and he knew it” (141). A simple reference to a cultural phenomenon likely characterizes him for reasons beyond the way he worded it. For one, one might generally think of such an event as a place to take children or your family. This association not only makes you think of him as a sad figure for not having a family, but also infantilizes him, as he was going to take himself there for his own enjoyment. The following paragraph goes on to describe what exactly is revealed about his life from this one sentence and reference, from the simple knowledge he is going to such a performance alone. We have such clear ideas of how people should act in society – who they should take where, what sorts of things you do with others to prove you are sociable, well-adapted, a normal member of society with a family and friends. We see ‘loners’ as sad, that word having a connotation of being a hindrance to society and the potential for danger is hinted at in such a word. We even put expectations on the way one must ingest culture; going to see fun, holiday performances is something ‘normal’ people do, but Chilton is failing to partake in it the way he is expected to. It makes him appear not only pathetic (in a sad, even perhaps sympathy-inducing way), but as a maladjusted adult.

  2. Karianne Laird

    When reading this book, I was instantly struck by the amount of research and real-world facts the author incorporates. One of these niche references is the death’s-head hawk moth, that Buffalo Bill leaves in the throats of his victims. This is revealed during the autopsy scene where Starling finds a pupa in the throat of the victim. The symbolism behind the moth becomes important to understand Bill’s motivations. As Lecter himself divulges to Clarice, the significance of the moth itself is change; “Caterpillar into chrysalis, or pupa, and from thence into beauty.” This refers to the process of metamorphosis – a concept that can be seen throughout Clarice’s journey and especially in Bill’s desire to change his gender.

    In addition to this insect playing a symbolic role, using this real-world reference has the powerful effect of making the story more realistic. When we hear the researchers in the Smithsonian give a detailed explanation about the death’s-head hawkmoth that Buffalo Bill uses on his victims it automatically makes the other aspects of his murder seem more believable. The more we, as the reader, feel like the situation is real and could happen to us, the more we can immerse ourselves in the world.

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