The Knife of Never Letting Go
Patrick Ness
Contributed by Carey Speaks
Chapter 1
Summary

The chapter begins with Todd Hewitt walking around in the swamp with his dog. Todd had been sent to the swamp in search of apples for his foster father, Ben. People in the town can hear each other’s thoughts as well as those of the animals around them. Todd swears at his dog when it starts chasing after a squirrel. In return, Aaron, the town’s priest, smacks Todd for swearing. There are no women in this town, due to the curse of the Noise, which was a virus released by the Spacks during a war. Todd discovers the Quiet, a hole in the Noise that surrounds the town.

Analysis

The constant Noise the inhabitants of Prentisstown hear reflects the pervasiveness of modern communication systems that expose them to everything that is happening around them. The curse of the Noise equates to people’s inability to block out the effects of the advances in today’s communication systems, which make it impossible for them to live a private life. The hole in the Noise detected by Todd and his dog shows the existence of a place not affected by modern technology.  Aaron tells Todd that language binds them like prisoners. When he scolds Todd for swearing, he implies that the use of such words reinforces what people already assume of his character.

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