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The phrase which I can't understand is:

This knowledge, like so much of my self-knowledge, had come to me in the voice of people I knew, people I loved.

I've problem with the meaning of "voice".

There are some meaning for the word "voice" in Oxford Dictionaries:

  • the sounds that you make when you speak, or the ability to make these sounds.

  • the quality of sound you produce when you sing.

  • the right or ability to express an opinion, to vote, or to influence decisions.

  • an opinion or wish that is expressed.1

I think the last one (an opinion) fits with the phrase but I am not sure.

So, Could you please tell me what the meaning of "voice" here is?

The full text is here:

From the moment I had first understood that my brother Richard was a boy and I was a girl, I had wanted to exchange his future for mine. My future was motherhood; his, fatherhood. They sounded similar but they were not. To be one was to be a decider. To preside. To call the family to order. To be the other was to be among those called. I knew my yearning was unnatural. This knowledge, like so much of my self-knowledge, had come to me in the voice of people I knew, people I loved. All through the years that voice had been with me, whispering, wondering, worrying. That I was not right. That my dreams were perversions. That voice had many timbres, many tones. Sometimes it was my father’s voice; more often it was my own.

Educated by Tara Westover

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I think that the author combines these two meanings

  1. the sounds that you make when you speak, or the ability to make these sounds.

  2. an opinion or wish that is expressed.

In the text, the speaker is talking about an inner voice, a sort of inner conscience that she can hear with the same voice of those who she love, incluiding her own voice. It's the same metaphor used in cartoons to represent your good side and your bad side over your shoulders, one is an angel, the other is a demon. In movies or cartoons, the same concept is represented too when you remember someone saying: I told you so, I warned you. Usually that inner voice is interpreted by the actor who said those words before in the film.

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It is not a literal voice. The quotation refers to many people, who obviously do not all share a literal voice.

A "collective voice" can mean the opinion of many, or even represent a majority. For example, after a vote in a political election it is often said that "the people have spoken" to represent the result of the majority vote, even though there are a minority (which could still be significant) that think otherwise.

However, the writer says that this voice "comes to them", and then goes on to say that they hear it variously as the voice of different people they knew. I would say that this represents the voice of their own conscience.

The writer is implying that they grew up with many people speaking with "one voice" - telling them the same things, shaping the writer's conscience and opinions. The "voice" that they go on to say they "hear" is the figurative voice of their own conscience which has been shaped by all those they have listened to in the past.

  • The writer identifies herself as female so it would be safe, when referring to her, to use she and her in the place of them, their and they. – Ronald Sole Jun 14 '18 at 15:03

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