“Trio for Four Voices” by Jane McLaughlin begins in medias res, in the middle of events, with the narrator describing a child and her father playing croquet. Slowly, it is revealed that the narrator is watching them from the hotel balcony (l. 5). The readers do not know yet where the story takes place, but we can guess the narrator is somewhere on vacation in a remote place.

The exposition continues with the narrator mentioning the “rhythm of moving in physical harmony” (l. 11) which suggests that the relationship between the father and the daughter is a good one. The father waving at her “roguishly” (l. 15) after her daughter insults him in French foreshadows how he allows her to play games with other…



In the rising action, the narrator is at dinner, observing the family. It is revealed that the girl’s name is Amelia (l. 18). She “flashes a smile” (l. 20), as she passes the narrator, which foreshadows that she will choose the narrator for her game.

A sudden tension point is introduced when Amelia announces the narrator that she wants to kill her mother (l. 40). This suggests a conflict between Amelia and her mother, which will turn out to be false. Amelia’s words shock the narrator, who scolds Amelia for sayi…

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