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In This Sign By Joanne Greenberg Goodreads In This Sign Book Readreviews From The World S Largest Community For Readers The Highly Acclaimed Novel Of A Family Whose Love And Courage Enable TIn This Sign Owl Books Spanning Four Generations, In This Sign Is The Story Of One Family S Struggle To Carve A Place For Itself Out Of The Tides Of Wealth, War, And Human Strivings In America ReadRead Less Beyond Your Wildest Dreams This Is A Sign Traduction En Franais Exemples AnglaisWe Believe That This Is A Sign Of A New Beginning, Where People Are Asserting Themselves As The Masters Of Their Own Destinies Nous Pensons Que C Est Le Signe D Un Nouveau Dpart, Les Peuples Affirmant Ainsi Leur Droit De Dcider De Leur Propre Sort For The Western Press, This Is A Sign That The United States Is Right To Denounce Chinese Expansionism Pour La Presse Occidentale, C Est LeIn This Sign Summary And Analysis Like Sites Like SparkNotes With A In This Sign Study Guide Or Cliff Notes Also Includes Sites With A Short Overview, Synopsis, Book Report, Or Summary Of Joanne Greenberg S In This Sign We Found No Such Entries For This Book Title Please See The Supplementary Resources Provided Below For Other Helpful Content Related To This Book Book Reviews Sites With A Book Review Or Quick Commentary OnSign In To Gmail Computer Gmail Help On Your Computer, Go To Gmail Enter Your Google Account Email Address Or Phone Number And Password If Information Is Already Filled In And You Need To Sign In To A Different Account, Click Use Another Account If You See A Page Describing Gmail Instead Of The Sign In Page, Click Sign In In The Top Right Corner Of The Page Sign In Traduction En Franais Exemples AnglaisTraductions En Contexte De Sign In En Anglais Franais Avec Reverso Context Sign In, In Sign Language, Sign Of A Break In Microsoft Account Sign In Or Create Your Account Just Sign In And Go Access Your Favorite Microsoft Products And Services With Just One Login From Office And Windows To Xbox And Skype, One Username And Password Connects You To The Files, Photos, People, And Content You Care About Most Outlook Email And Calendar Together All You Need To Be Your Most Productive And Connected Self At Home, On The Go, And Everywhere In Between Learn


10 thoughts on “In This Sign

  1. says:

    The novel follows a deaf couple – Abel and Janice – through their lives from shortly after WWI to the mid 1960s. They start out confident and sure, having gone to a “Deaf school” to learn trades which will assure them of work, Abel in a print shop, Janice as a seamstress in a cap factory. But they soon discover that despite learning to read lips they are woefully ignorant of the World of the Hearing.

    I read this novel back in the mid 1970s, shortly after it was originally released. I had read Greenberg’s earlier novel – I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (written as Hannah Green) – when I was in high school and enjoyed that exploration of mental illness and recovery. A challenge to read a book featuring a deaf character made me remember this little gem and I went searching for it.

    I find myself conflicted in my feelings for Abel and Janice. I feel sad that they are so lost and truly “dis”-abled by their deafness. I want to befriend them and welcome them to the community. I want to throttle the people (landlady, boss, car salesman, etc) who take advantage of them. At the same time, I feel angry with Abel and Janice for being so prideful and refusing any sort of help. Janice, especially, is so paralyzed by fear of what others will think of her that she nearly alienates her only daughter and husband.

    The way they rely on the child Margaret (who is Hearing) to interpret for them mirrors the way many immigrant families rely on their children to help them navigate interactions with businesses, doctors, teachers, etc. They never recognize the burden this places on their daughter, or that merely being able to hear the words does not equal understanding concepts unfamiliar to the child. Here is Margaret coming home from school after getting a disappointing grade on a test:
    “If she had been called stupid or a failure, she would have felt less weakened. This weakening was of a kind she did not understand. Miss Lester’s hand on her arm had been comforting and gentle and those words which she had understood were praising and not for blame. … A single word could have a dozen meanings; it could mean the opposite of what it said, and when it was most a game, it was the most serious. The hearing of the words was not enough. Her parents thought that hearing was everything. How could they know that she, with all her hearing, was suffering death by thirst even as she sat in school, lost in a meaningless tide of words?”

    As Margaret grows up she begins to resent more and more the way her parents rely on her to be their voice; she struggles to find her own life in face of the duty she feels to help her parents. Here is her father talking about what it means to lose her to marriage:
    “When Hearing have a child and she grows to be a woman and is married, the parents cry at the wedding because she is leaving them and they know they will be lonely for her. When Deaf have such a child, a Hearing child, she grows up in the Hearing world, and when she is married, mother and father do not cry. When the Hearing child leaves the house of the Deaf, their mouths also are taken away from them and their ears are taken away and the child also, whom they love. For this, tears are not enough.”

    There are many such passages in the book which made me think – and rethink – my impressions, reactions, and assumptions about the Deaf and others who are faced with obstacles that most of us never even see. I’m so glad I re-read it. It is poignant, eye-opening, and thought-provoking.

    In 1985, the book was adapted into a TV movie – Love Is Never Silent – which starred Mare Winningham as Margaret.


  2. says:

    Torn about this book. I Never Promised You A Rose Garden is one of my all time favorite books and was the first book I read by Joanne Greenberg (under the pseudo name of Hannah Green), and I couldn’t help but make comparisons. But this is a great novel. Very interesting and moving. A terrific job is done showing the palpable isolation and loneliness of the deaf couple and also the struggle of their hearing daughter. A wonderful family story. Read it years ago but remember so many details. One part that made an impression on me was how after dark in bed the deaf couple could not talk with each other because they couldn’t see each other’s hands.


  3. says:

    This is a powerful book that I would love to talk about with others. Right now, I'm contemplating the possible meanings of the last page; how is the one thing that Abel and Janice can do to end poverty "right now, for everyone" (286) something "very much like Sign"? (287)

    I'm looking forward to seeing how this book goes over in a class I'll be teaching next Spring. As a third-generation Deaf person from a Deaf family, the plot definitely evokes a lot of emotions and can be difficult to read at times (because many of the emotions Greenberg evokes are painful).

    Greenberg does a great job of painting a picture of the Deaf community and Deaf culture from the 1920's to the 1960's. Although she is almost entirely accurate in her depiction, some word choices and beliefs clearly come from a hearing-centric perspective--even as much of her novel works against audist ignorance.

    This blurring of understanding and ignorance, however, show how important this novel is for people who are careful enough readers to question the difference.


  4. says:

    Working with the Deaf community, it is hard to know how they experience the world. This book truly makes its way inside the lives of a Deaf couple and their family. It can be heartbreaking at times and yet their ability to persevere in the face of the discrimination they encounter daily is inspirational.


  5. says:

    This is a difficult book to rate and to review. The story is so incredibly sad, but also an important awakening for those who have no idea about the history of the Deaf in the U.S. and how the education system tore apart the lives of way too many Deaf people for far too long.


  6. says:

    This is a very interesting and moving novel about a Deaf couple and their Hearing daughter, Margaret. It starts in the 20s, when Abel and Janet are newly married, out in the world, and have finally escaped the school for the Deaf where they met. They buy a luxury car, then sell it when it's too expensive to run, not understanding that they papers they signed were for a loan. The car dealer sues them and wins, dooming them to 20 years of poverty while they repay the loan.

    The book does a fascinating job of showing us how Abel's life changed when he went to the Deaf school. He grew up in a Deaf family who used some signs, but didn't really understand words or language. School opened that world to him.

    Margaret is their link to the Hearing world, and has to interpret for her parents at the doctor, the bank, and when they must buy a a coffin for her young brother. Her teachers can't understand why she can read well but has such poor grammer. They have no idea that it's because Sign doesn't have the same kind of structure and she that gets little practice in spoken English. Later she's befriended by a storekeeper in their slum neighborhood who gives her a radio. A radio! It's her lifeline to learning and experience in the ways of the wider world.

    It also demonstrates how isolated Janet and Abel are until they join a Deaf church. Janet is ashamed of their shabby clothes and doesn't want to meet other Deaf people, but Abel insists, and for the first time since school, they have people besides each other they can talk to.

    Janet does piecework for a factory and can't understand why Union representatives approach her and "talk, talk, talk" to try to get her to join them. She believes the factory has only her best interests at heart. She's faster than the Hearing workers, so she's pleased when WWII comes and she's asked to train the other seamstresses. Abel similarly benefits from war, when Hearing printers are drafted and he gets extra work. They're proud that for the first time their skills are recognized. Of course, after the war, they're no longer such valuable employees.

    When Margaret meets a young man and gets serious about him, her mother is angry - doesn't she understand how they need her? How can she consider leaving home? Abel is more understanding how she needs her own life.

    Margaret defiantly gets married. Her mother in law is surprised to find out that Margaret's parents don't read. She assumed Deaf people would have lots of books since, after all, there's no reason they can't read. But reading and that kind of language aren't a part of Deaf culture, or at least people Deaf from birth.

    Although Abel and Janet eventually own their own home, Janet never gets over the bitterness and shame of the years when they were poor. She's angry, too, that Margaret has her own life. Though the grandsons learn to Sign when they're young, eventually they forget, and don't spend time with their grandparents. It's the grandson who becomes a social activist in the 19602 and goes to the South to help the poor who brings Margaret and her parents back together.


  7. says:


    SPOILERS!!!!!


    I first read this about 8 years ago when I was taking an ASL class at university. I decided to re-read it and I really failed to see how negative Janice was the first time I read it. She is a constant toxic cloud of negativity that hangs over Abel and their children. Abel tried to remain positive in a world that discriminated against the deaf by suggesting to Janice that they go out and mingle with other deaf people that might have been going through the same thing, and all Janice could do was tell him how stupid he was being for even trying. I understand that society made it hard for them to feel completely accepted, but it's even harder when you choose to have such a defeatist attitude all the time like Janice, and she brought everyone down along with her.

    I also hated how the author made Janice and Abel so naive to the point that they were just outright stupid in some situations. In the beginning you feel bad for them because of the misunderstanding with the car they purchased and because their interpreter berates and belittles them for being deaf, but after that they react inappropriately (coffin shopping) and fail to put Margaret in school, and it all adds up to the reader not even giving a damn what this family goes through because it's all at the expense of their own ignorance.

    The ending where Abel, Margaret, and Janice gather around the table and have a good laugh over everything they went through was really inconsistent on Janice's part. What the hell is Janice doing laughing joyously when she was so negative throughout the entire novel? It was so out of character for her. I didn't even think it possible that she knew what laughter was! I would have much preferred if the laughter at the end was a private moment between and ONLY between father and daughter since they had a better understanding and better relationship with each other. Kudos to the family for persevering through hard times, but Janice's attitude made it that much harder to get through this book.

    The book was first published in 1970 and anyone who reads it now will find it extremely dated. It's also very wordy.

    I remember reading another book for my ASL class called Deaf Like Me, and that was a much better book than In This Sign.


  8. says:

    I was assigned this book as part of a class on sign language, and am so thankful. I think of it often these many years later, as it gives a poignant and realistic view into the world of the deaf.


  9. says:

    Really loved this in my early 20s...read twice. Not sure how I'd feel now, but probably the same way.


  10. says:

    Joanne Greenberg is a writer of great insight and subtlety, and it is a shame that this excellent novel is no longer in print. The main characters, Abel and Janice, are both Deaf, and have met at a school for the Deaf and Blind. Beginning in 1920, Abel and Janice face constant hardship to survive in a world that their education and families have done little to prepare them for. The copy on the cover of the book describes the story as being about "a family whose love and courage enable them to survive in the silent world of the deaf" but this does not get close to the heart of the story. Faced with debt and poverty, it is Abel and Janice's hard work, pragmatism and stubbornness that enables them to survive, and the narrative shows that at times loving someone can be impossible, but tenacity and refusal to give up can keep you going, however difficult and bitter it can be.

    This is a not a happy novel, but it is not without hope. Greenberg is very interested in language, and how Janice and Abel have not been taught Sign properly as their schools forced them to lip-read, and as the story progresses their Sign increases, and having a greater understanding of words and language allows them, Abel in particular, to expand their understanding of the world and discover more about themselves. Their daughter, Margaret, is born hearing, and from a very young age acts as their interpreter in a world they and she find very confusing. Their are some heartbreaking scenes where Margaret is forced to face adult decisions when she is much too young to do so. Margaret comes to resent her role of interpreter and how she is forced to act as her parent's bridge to the hearing world, but she also comes to realise how important Sign is to her. A complex story, none of the characters are entirely likeable or perfect, but all are well drawn.