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'The language of Alice Munro's stories is ordinary but the effect that it creates is extraordinary.' Choose 3 stories from the collection and comment on the language Munro uses, showing how far you agree with this view of her writing.

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Introduction

"The language of Alice Munros stories is ordinary but the effect that it creates is extraordinary." Choose 3 stories from the collection and comment on the language Munro uses, showing how far you agree with this view of her writing. Within Munro's stories, the subjects, characters and language surrounding them seems ordinary, but the writing and effects that are drawn from the events are extraordinary. This essay will concentrate on three stories from the collection 'Selected Stories'. The three stories are 'Postcard', 'Miles City Montana' and 'Something I've Been Meaning To Tell You'. Within the collection 'Selected Stories' Alice Munro explores many themes. Examples of those central themes (common to all of the stories) include, the effects of small town life on the characters within the stories, life and mortality, social status and restrictions, gender differences and memories/family history. 'Postcard' displays Munro's intention to observe the extraordinary that exists below the ordinary. She does this in the story by exploring gender roles through the consideration of social restrictions placed upon women and the subsequent lack of power many of the women within Munro's stories feel. In 'Postcard' the central character Helen experiences this. Munro seeks to investigate and to make a social comment on small town life through the portrayal of gossip. "Lookit the lights on up and down this street. There's Grace Beecher watching us and I can see the Holmes got their Windows up. "You don't want to give them anything more to talk about do you?" The small town values of Canada are universal of all small towns. Another of the intentions in the story is to identify social class and the status inherent within the functioning of individuals and the society, which is based upon the values of small town life. 'Postcard' achieves this primarily by exploring relationships between males and females. (for example the relationship between the central character Helen and Clare.) ...read more.

Middle

worlds at the same time is stylistically evident within the work of Alice Munro and within the story 'Postcard'. The fact that at the end of the story Clare will still be a pillar of the community but Helen will forever be talked about and will basically be the laughing stock of the whole town for years to come; the 'white picket fence' syndrome with everyone thinking things look alright so they must be. This helps to highlight the narrow mindedness of the inhabitants of Jubilee. This also links to gender relationships and social inequality which are well documented within 'Postcard'. The ordinary language of the public world, creates extraordinary effects on the reader when they realise that there is another world that exists, the private world. Munro also adds to the idea of realism within 'Postcard' by mentioning authentic dialogue and place names (geographical details). The names that she mentions are Jubilee, the principle town where most of the action within the story takes place and Florida where Clare is on holiday and is also the place where the postcard originated from. "It was my only card since he left for Florida three weeks ago." However the human issues she deals with are universal. We can all identify with Helen's embarrassment and release. At the end, Helen has found her voice (symbolised by the honking of the horn). Munro's intentions in 'Miles City Montana' also include exploring gender roles and power. (Also the restrictions that result from those gender roles and in particular male egotism.) 'Miles City Montana' also explores social expectations, motherhood/parenthood, the idea of love and hate within families, memories and family history. In this story Munro uses symbolically important 'props' such as maps to facilitate the furthering/conclusion of the narrative. 'Miles city Montana' is not set specifically within a small town. Most of the story takes place when the characters are on a journey across the country. ...read more.

Conclusion

The reader is active because they have to act as a detective and piece together the story for themselves because the continuation of the narrative depends upon this. For example: "I haven't seen Andrew for years, don't know if he is still thin, has completely gone gray, insists on lettuce, tells the truth, or is hearty and disappointed" The ending of 'Miles City Montana' adds to the narrative, it adds a further comment not only on the thoughts and ideas professed within the story but on the idea of society and the future. "So we went on, with the two in the back seat trusting us, because of no choice, and we ourselves trusting to be forgiven, in time, for everything that had first to be seen and condemned by those children: whatever was flippant, arbitrary, careless, callous - all our natural, and particular, mistakes." The above quote highlights a point where Munro could be seen as speaking through the character in her book communicating directly with the reader. This directly links with 'Postcard' where Munro chooses to speak through her characters. 'Something I've Been Meaning To Tell You' also demands that the reader be the detective, dropping hints, but in the end the reader has to piece together all the clues and come to their own conclusions. Another intention is to show different power relationships (mainly the power that results from beauty). "Char fought hard all these years to keep her figure....... "What is the difference, What does it matter?" he would say to Et. "She would still be beautiful." The power struggle is also connected to knowledge, the idea that knowledge is power. "That way, Et was left knowing more; she was left knowing what Char looked like when she lost her powers." "She had them at a disadvantage ........ torn by children and operations." The above quote shows how Et has power over the women of the town because she has the knowledge of what they truly look like (when their corsets have been taken off) as she works as a dressmaker. ...read more.

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