The Missing Piece, by Shel Silverstein

For the past few days I have been in the throes of setting up a library booksale. This is a job with both cons (it's a heck of a lot of work) and pros (I get to take home books). I was very happy yesterday to find that someone had donated a lovely copy of Shel Silverstein's book, The Missing Piece (1970, Scholastic 1995). I was even happier when my seven year old seized it and started reading out loud to us. For the first two thirds of the book, I was day dreaming about the glowing blog entry I would write about it. Then, betrayal. Total betrayal.

The story is as follows- a happy-face (in profile) shaped piece is looking for his missing triangle. He rolls through the world, slowly because of the missing piece, smelling flowers, meeting various insects, and then encountering various triangles, one of whom doesn't want his identity subsumed by a larger shape, and many who just don't fit. At last he finds a triangle who fits beautifully, and is willing to enter into a relationship, and both shapes are happy. But not for long.

With the new triangle in place, the shape now rolls quickly, too fast for nature appreciation. So what does the original shape do? Does he say, "Let's stop for a while, and rest, and I'll explore a bit but come back to you?" NO! He leaves the poor triangle, who looks sad and stunned, in the dust, and totally abandons it! What a jerk. The message of the story becomes this--if your partner in a relationship holds you back from doing the things you liked pre-relationship, dump your partner without apology. I'm just glad they hadn't had any kids.


  1. If you honestly think this book is about nothing more than the search for love, I pity you. Shel Silverstein was able to use the simplicity of children's writing to reach children, have profound, powerful effect, and to create something with a universal message. The Missing Piece was a story about that need to quest so basic to the human condition. It celebrates the truth of this quest: that the goal is the journey, and that that's something to rejoice over.

  2. You 'pity" thiperson for seeing this as a search for love? Wow, I actually pity you that you feel that a person has to see more than a search for true love and respect. BTW, most psyciatrists in these modern times would agree that love is indeed the most powerful emotion for a human being to experience and that it is truly the most important. So the last thing that I would do is "pity" the person who saw mostly love in this story.


Free Blog Counter

Button styles