This is a very brief chapter with a very straightforward setting: an unnamed man and woman are watching a ball game on television at his house and she hears a high-pitch sound that he does not hear. She is positive it is the sound of the television and they spend a little time trying to locate that sound.
At first I thought the woman was Grace Kimball because we know she would meet her future husband while swimming, and that is where these two met. However, I thought the man she would meet was into market research but this man is apparently a salvage diver of some sort? Also, this woman played softball when she was younger and I do not recall any mention of Grace playing softball. Maybe these details were in an earlier chapter and I was not attentive enough; this is not something I would rule out.
For some reason this notion of a sound due from electronics use is familiar to me; I daresay that in this modern technological age, such a steady background electronic sound is something we’ve all experienced and take for granted. I’m not sure if this kind of persistent background noise is meant to be a statement on the nature of modern living, though it certainly is a good one – the hum and thrum of a life built on electricity and modern technological conveniences. Even today, how many of us jump at the sound of a ringtone?
This chapter feels like a trifle – in a good sense – where we see a moment of bonding between this couple, as they are still getting to know one another. She wants to stay the night, he wants her to stay the night, but they have to broach the subject before it is settled. He indulges her sound – and her implicit criticism of a life less bound to natural experience – and she in turn indulges his desire to accommodate her instead of letting the sound just be. It’s a fine line, a give-and-take that depends on being sensitive to one another, being aware of the slightest signs – which is like hearing that unknown sound, I guess.
The fact that this is the second time the word “unknown” is used in the title may be significant, or it may not. Let’s see if it pops up again. I just checked the table of contents: it does. So we’ll start figuring out how the unknown figures in, though my initial hunch is the unknowability of people to one another.