‘The Quiet Girl’ Ending, Explained: Does Cáit Reunite With Her Newfound Parents?

If Cáit’s morose, longing gazes could be transmuted into words, Colm Bairead’s Irish coming-of-age tale could’ve just as easily been a novel. And you’d be glad to know that the story has a warm, literary air surrounding it for a reason. Borrowing its story from Claire Keegan’s 2010 novella Foster, The Quiet Girl makes itself the mouthpiece for everyone who’s been carrying a love-shaped hole in their heart, for they’ve never been more than just another mouth to feed in a home where love is a luxury. A nine-year-old bright-eyed little girl’s first brush with being visible in a life that hasn’t relented in its pursuit of crushing her soul gets to be the heart of the film.


Spoilers Ahead

Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘The Quiet Girl’?

The persistently authentic rural Irish backdrop that Bairead’s film bathes in melancholy is haunted by the muffled heartache that’s been a constant in little Cáit’s life. Walking alongside the title and the lead, who hardly speaks even when she’s spoken to, The Quiet Girl‘s air is consistently droning with the dread of invisibility and a sense of despair that is too personal and maybe even too docile to scream out. In a dilapidated home with a mother who’s too busy rustling up their daily fare with the scraps her husband brings home, Cáit’s never seen a life that doesn’t have to make do with far less than the bare minimum, let alone been spoiled. And it doesn’t help that her antithetically loud siblings take up most of the space, some of which Cáit’s love-starved eyes yearn to keep for herself. For the ne’er-do-well father whose depraved patriarchal ego is far more robust than his will to provide for his family, Cáit’s never been more than a strain on his funds. That hasn’t, however, kept him from doing what he believes is his role as the man of the house and procreating without consideration of the effect a new baby will have on the existing lives that he’s supposed to be responsible for. So, when her pregnant mother nears the due date, Cáit is dropped off at the grand house of their distant relatives, Eibhlín and Seán, for the summer.


How Does Cáit Come To Love Eibhlín And Seán?

The stark differences between the treatment she’s been accustomed to and what she’s met with when she steps out of the car onto the Kinsellas’ lawn are immediate. The warm gesture of Eibhlín gently tucking her hair behind her ears feels alien to Cáit, who’s been brought up by a man who’s the kind of father that encourages Eibhlín and Seán to make use of her for chores around the house and on the farm. For a girl who’s hardly ever been looked after, it’s no surprise that having the stains of her forsaken life scrubbed off in a warm bath would startle her. To be met with kindness instead of rage when the fear of a stranger walking into her room makes her wet the bed feels like a dream to Cáit, who, if possible, is even more still now than she was before, perhaps to make sure she doesn’t wake up. It’s not the riches and the abundance of treats that impress the little girl, who’s never really had much to her name. It’s the gradual acknowledgment of the heaven she’s been brought into, a place where there are no lies and secrets, that gives her hope that she wouldn’t be condemned if she dared to ask for love. And love is what she gets from Eibhlín without ever having to do anything other than merely exist, being the precious little girl that she is. Breaking down the wall he’s put up ever since a ray of sunshine last brightened up the house, even Seán can’t help but give his heart to the girl who quietly follows him around the place. It takes him a while to put just how much he adores her into words. And before he can muster up the courage, his love is the stray cookie he leaves on the counter as he walks by her.

‘The Quiet Girl’ Ending Explained: How Does Cáit Reunite With Her Newfound Parents?

The love she’s been showered with in the Kinsellas’ household is something that Cáit didn’t even know existed. What’s reassured her faith in the warmth she’s been basking in ever since she set foot into their house has been the wholesome dynamic between Eibhlín  and Seán. Never having heard a word of love being exchanged between her parents, Cáit’s been in the dark about what a healthy, mutually fulfilling relationship looks like. All she’s been made to get used to has been a mother’s muted whimpers in the kitchen that only hold memories of misery. What she now sees are parent figures, as expressively affectionate to one another as they are to her, for someone who’s been predestined to become a wife to be exploited for her service someday, the air of liberation and the active indulgence of her childlike instincts that Eibhlín  and Seán inspire in her lift a weight off her chest. She’s been taught to unshackle the spirit that’s been dying a cruel death. She’s encouraged to run like the wind and never settle for anyone who can’t keep up with her vitality.


Yet, even in the moments Eibhlín and Seán tug at your heartstrings the most, The Quiet Girl‘s ingeniously subtle acknowledgment of the differences in privilege between the two families is staring right at you. For a big family barely making ends meet, any urge for emotional enlightenment whines and backs into a corner when hunger itself challenges it to a duel. Of course, Cáit’s father’s destructive ego keeping him from accepting any help doesn’t make it any easier for the ones who’d pick a bruised sense of pride over starvation. Eibhlín and Seán aren’t always mindful of the habits they may ingrain in Cáit, who’ll eventually have to go back to the home where dreams die. But what redeems them is their sincere desire to give Cáit everything she should’ve been destined for, even if it is for a fleeting interval that is tormented by the threat that a morose conclusion draws nearer. The amount of selflessness that it takes for a couple dealing with the grief of losing their child to take a little girl in for a short while and get attached to her, knowing it would come to an end, only adds to the fascinating impression Eibhlín and Seán have already made. And how could Cáit ever say goodbye to these two? When she’s seen them wretched and terrified at the possibility of losing her to an accident, how could Cáit go back to the mother who can’t get herself to take a good look at her and the father who leaves her at the mercy of strangers?

The Quiet Girl‘s ending sequence harks back to all those moments when two complete strangers were more affectionate to Cáit than her own parents have ever been. The man who valiantly battled his own fear of attachment to hold Cáit close puts her own father’s general incompetence and stark lack of love to shame. And nobody has been more maternal to Cáit than the woman who’s kept the expressions of her grief in check just to ascertain her comfort and happiness. Knowing how they are, it’s likely that Cáit’s parents would be only too relieved to relinquish her to the couple who loved her dearly if it meant that there’d be one less kid they’d have to worry about. Cáit’s found her parents. She’s found a home where maybe, in enough time, she won’t be the quiet girl anymore.


Lopamudra Mukherjee
Lopamudra Mukherjeehttps://muckrack.com/lopamudra-mukherjee
Lopamudra nerds out about baking whenever she’s not busy looking for new additions to the horror genre. Nothing makes her happier than finding a long-running show with characters that embrace her as their own. Writing has become the perfect mode of communicating all that she feels for the loving world of motion pictures.

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