Hera is the narrator of the short story “A Way of Talking” by Patricia Grace and the oldest sister in a Maori family of four siblings (two boys and two girls). She is soon to be married. We learn her name late in the story when her sister Rose addresses her directly in the aftermath of her conflict with Jane.

As the oldest sister, Hera believes that she must be the responsible and “well-behaved” one. This is reinforced by their mother: “Mum used to say, ‘Rohe, you’ve got the brains but you look to your sister for the sense.’ ” Hera feels pressured somewhat to keep Rosa in line, especially since she’s older.

Hera seems to value peace and quiet, and she seems to believe that one must keep up appearances in social situations. She is quiet and restrained, does not talk much in social situations and words don’t seem to come easily to her: “I tried hard to think of something to say to cover Jane’s words though I’d hardly said a thing all morning.”  When Rose asks her about Jane, although well aware...

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