A murmuration is a flock of small birds called starlings. These birds flock and fly together by physically coordinating with one another. The flock has the ability to shift various shapes, which has always been regarded as a natural miracle. By murmuration, these birds attract one another and protect themselves from predators. This murmuration can also be interpreted as a voice. This voice attracts another spirit or soul. Legends from the past say that these birds deliver human souls to God. So, in addition to the scientific idea, there is another spiritual or mythical explanation for the flocking of these birds. This flock of birds may actually be the messengers of human emotions, feelings, and hopes that are delivered to the All-mighty. Just like at the end of “The Murmuring,” we see a flock of dunlin birds flying around Nancy to take away all her pain, conflict, and turmoil and give her the freedom she had longed for. So, let’s discuss the significance of the word “murmuration” in “Cabinet Of Curiosities” Episode 8.
The story of “The Murmuring” centers around an ornithologist Nancy and her husband, Edgar Bradley, who have recently lost their daughter Ava. The parents were devastated by the loss of their child, but the research on the birds’ murmuration kept them busy and acted as a distraction from the tragedy that was tormenting them mentally and emotionally. During the dunlins’ flocking season, they took shelter in a secluded home from where they studied the birds and explored more about their pattern. However, in that house, Nancy soon found other existences besides her and her husband.
Nancy was an ornithologist who had studied birds all her life. She was well-versed in her subject and had done extensive research on them. But what fascinated Nancy the most was the “freedom” of the birds. Her husband, Edgar, was an ornithologist, too, who loved his wife more than anything. He understood her pain caused by the loss of their child. Edgar made numerous attempts to ease Nancy’s pain but failed. Even Nancy was unable to overcome her emotional distress, no matter how much she tried. She wanted to break free from her trauma and live her life again, so the flying of the dunlins served as an escape.
When Nancy and Edgar moved into the house, Nancy could connect with a woman who used to live in that house. Much like Nancy, this woman named Claudette yearned for freedom. Through the documents found in the house, Nancy found out that Claudette had killed her son and committed suicide. Just like Nancy, she too might have felt suffocated by the emotional pain and conflict that probably took away her peace of mind, but even after her death, Claudette didn’t achieve freedom as her spirit was still trapped in the house.
Nancy had discovered a flock of dunlins in the attic of the house, which was a miracle because it was the first time the dunlins had ever nested in a human establishment. Nancy could comprehend that there might be a non-scientific explanation for their nest in the attic because they might have some connection to the house. Then she discovered a handmade handkerchief that had designs of dunlins and the word “freedom” on it. Therefore, Nancy sympathized with Claudette and her dead son’s tragedy and did not freak out when their spirits were visible to her. She called the child’s spirit to her as she wanted him to come out of the darkness and accept the fact that he had already died. When the child ran towards the light, he disappeared. It meant that the spirit of the child was finally at peace. Even in front of Nancy’s eyes, Claudette appeared and showed her how exactly she had killed herself. When Nancy wanted to stop her, Claudette was absorbed in the light and liberated herself.
Claudette lived her entire life all alone with her son in this huge house. She was the lover of a married guy who had abandoned her for his actual wife. From the humiliation, Claudette killed her son and committed suicide. But after their deaths, Claudette and her son’s restless spirits remained imprisoned inside the house; only Nancy understood them since she yearned for freedom just as much as they did. Nancy understood that these spirits did not intend to harm her but rather wanted someone to feel their pain. When they were no longer alone, and Nancy was by their side, Claudette and her kid were finally freed. Through this experience, even Nancy realized that she couldn’t dwell on the past tragedy and traumatize herself every day because of it. Eventually, she had to let it go because what happened in the past was poisoning her present and future. She had to make peace with the tragedy in order to move on, and that is what she finally did. As she came out of the house to be liberated from her pain, the “murmuration” of dunlins flew around Nancy, absorbing all the suffering, regret, and loneliness she had been holding inside for so long. Nancy got the long-awaited freedom that helped her to communicate with her husband, Edgar. Perhaps now that Nancy and Edgar were finally together, they could talk about the death of their child and mourn their heart out to wash their pain away.