By Harold Bloom (Editor)
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Extra resources for Alice Munro (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
These characters attempt to understand their experience by going through it again, and only language allows this review. But as “Hard-Luck Stories” demonstrates, to go through it again is to change it utterly; there can be no coincidence between the experience itself and the language that would render it. Narrative is finally not the province of truth; to tell is at best to revise, but never to perfectly revive. The narrator’s position at the end of “Hard-Luck Stories” is, for Munro, the 38 Katherine J.
Paradoxically, Helen reclaims the real mother that has become one of the town’s possessions by confronting the fact that the mother cannot be claimed at all. Representations or re-creations of the “real mother” keep turning into mock mothers and the act of trying is so painful that it might be described as a recurring feeling of doing matricide. What is potent in this story is the courage to confront this guilt—the guilt of having murdered the real mother to make room for mock mothers. This guilt is brought into focus during the visit within the visit—Helen’s visit to see Aunt Annie and Auntie Lou.
Frequently, their point of view is that of a young girl scrutinizing the incomprehensible behavior of adults. Munro never abandons southern Ontario as a setting; many consider it the inspiration for her best work. But stories from her middle period, collected in Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You (1974), more frequently present young, troubled married life on the Canadian West Coast during an ironically rendered beat era, early feminist consciousness-raising, and the bewildering changes of the sixties.