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Firstly, Fingers as signifiers. The films very first image is a point-of-view shot looking through Ada’s fingers as if they frame her world. They are signifiers of expressiveness. Ada is mute and her fingers are her tools of communication. She communicates using sign language with her fingers. Ada also uses her fingers to play the piano. Without her fingers, Ada would not be able to continue with her passion. Fingers are the chosen means of her affectionate sex play when she caresses her husband, and Baine’s fingers a hole in her stocking. It is a finger cut off by Stewart with his axe, and then sent to Baine’s as her message (so literally becoming language) instead of the piano key she wanted to send.
Ada’s elective mutism has made her fingers fluent, like those of some blind people. Her fingers have a triple fluency; in her signing, in her ardent playing and in …