THE SOFT VOICE OF THE SERPENT guy spencer •The title may be considered to be an allusion or a metaphor as it refers to an account on the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis. In the Bible, the snake deceives Eve into eating the forbidden fruit and persuades her husband to do the same. •In the story the locust symbolises the serpent as it deceives the man. Its communication with the man is described as ‘soft voice’ because it does so quietly. •Before the arrival of the locust, a tense atmosphere characterised by the ominous silence between the man and his wife is evident.
The man believes his wife is extremely exhausted by looking after him. He complains about her lack of energy but he is not vocal about it. Although the wife sits with him in the garden, she immediately becomes preoccupied with the knitting. This atmosphere completely changes with the arrival of the locust. The man becomes attentive, outspoken and can even afford to make a joke or two about the wife and the locust. Both the man and his wife begin talking to each other. On observation, the man realises that the locust struggles to turn and stand on its feet. He further realises that the cause is that it has lost a leg like him. As this point one would expect the man to show sympathy to the locust as they share a disability. But ironically, the man belittles the locust and all his comments are contemptuous. Instead of learning from the locust that being disabled only means finding new ways of doing things, he indulges in seeing himself as better than the locust.
For instance, he tells his wife to organise a chair and crutches for the locust. •The locust inspires the man by showing him that self-pity is destructive. He becomes ecstatic that at least he is better than the locust. His euphoria is however short-lived as the wife accidently prods the locust causing it to fly, something they both had forgotten. The man immediately returns to his pensive mood and turns the wife into his punching ball.