Themes and message


The main theme of the short story “Trio for Four Voices” by Jane McLaughlin is deception. This theme is illustrated through Amelia and how she misleads the narrator into thinking she is going to kill her mother.

In the middle of a normal conversation with the narrator, Amelia announces that she has a secret, and then states that she hates her mother and intends to kill her (l. 40). This statement shocks the narrator so much that she is convinced Amelia is mentally disturbed. Amelia goes even further and involves her father in the plot. According to Amelia, her father will help her kill her mother, because he wants to marry “another lady, one who writes books like he does” (l. 44).

The deception started by Amelia is continued by the parents. Feeling the need to do something, the narrator approaches the mother and tells her about Amelia’s words. In response, the mother herself enters the game, together with Amelia’s father:

‘How dare you! How dare you invent such terrible things about our daughter! Such disgusting, twisted, perverted ideas!’
His wife keeps up a kind of counterpoint: ‘Disgusting, warped, appalling!’ (ll. 117-119)

Throughout the ...

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