Lesson Plan Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro

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Just a few of the themes Munro explores in her texts include class, gender, love, and identity. Even worse for Grant, Fiona ends up falling in love with another man in the clinic! As you could imagine, the themes of loss, memory, and identity play a major role in this touching piece. He took her up on it, he shouted yes. He wanted never to be away from her. She had the spark of life. The main character in this text is a girl named Del Jordan who readers follow as she matures on an Ontario farm. Try Independent Minds free for 1 month to access this feature.

Find your bookmarks in your Independent Minds section, under my profile. Subscribe Now Subscribe Now. Final Say. Long reads. Lib Dems. US Politics. Theresa May. Jeremy Corbyn. Robert Fisk. Mark Steel. Janet Street-Porter. John Rentoul. Chuka Ummuna. Shappi Khorsandi. Gina Miller. Our view. Sign the petition. Spread the word. Steve Coogan.

Rugby union. Motor racing. US sports. Rugby League. Geoffrey Macnab. Tech news. Tech culture. News videos. Explainer videos. Sport videos. Money transfers. Health insurance. Money Deals. The Independent Books. Voucher Codes. Minds Articles. Subscription offers. Religion is also important in Del's relationship with Garnet.

He has been saved from a life of crime by the intervention of a Baptist minister, who then baptizes Garnet. Religion is again the focus when Del and Garnet meet, since they meet at a revival meeting. Garnet wants to marry Del and have children, but he insists that she must be baptized first. When she refuses, he tries to forcibly baptize her, nearly drowning her in the process.

For Del, Garnet's religious fervor illustrates what she has known all along—that she and Garnet have no intellectual connection. Their relationship is based solely on physical attraction. In general, men are not well defined in Lives of Girls and Women. But as sexual beings, boys and men have a larger role in the novel. Del is very interested in the sexual connection between men and women. As adolescents, Naomi's mother provides clinical information about sexuality through books and prurient gossip about sexual behavior.

But Naomi's mother cannot provide the kind of detail that most interests the two girls. Because they lack experience, their knowledge is limited. Consequently, both girls spend a great deal of time fantasizing about boys and imagining sexual experience. Del's relationship with boys undergoes a natural progression from the childhood crush over Frank Wales, to the experimental and largely clinical relationship with Jerry Story, to an intimate sexual relationship with Garnet French.

There is also a voyeuristic relationship with Art Chamberlain. In each case, Del learned something more about how men and women relate sexually to one another. Sexuality and sexual experience provide a pattern of knowledge that helps to define Del's growth from adolescent to adult.

Characterization is the process by which the author creates a life-like person from his or her imagination. To accomplish this, the author provides the character with personality traits that help define who she will be and how she will behave in a given situation.

Madeleine Poole is a complex character, whose role in the novel takes only a few paragraphs, but her influence is important in how Del sees the relationship between men and women. Characters can range from simple stereotypical figures to more complex multifaceted ones and they may also be defined by personality traits, such as the rogue or the damsel in distress.

Munro portrays her characters with a great deal of depth, and this may be because they are loosely based on people that she has known in the past, as has been suggested about many of her stories. Munro writes about an area and types of people with whom she is most familiar, although her characters are based more on composites combinations of different people than on specific people whom she has met. By doing this, she makes her characters more interesting and complex. Fiction refers to any story that is created out of the author's imagination, rather than factual events.

Sometimes the characters in a fictional piece are based on real people, but their ultimate form and the way they respond to events is solely the creation of the author. In Lives of Girls and Women the characters are fictional, but they are based on people or character types from Munro's life. Because Munro initially titled the novel "Real Lives," there has been speculation that her book is more autobiographical than fictional.

In addition, since many of the details and locations in Lives of Girls and Women mirror Munro's own life, many critics analyze her novel by looking for autobiographical elements. However, Munro has stated in many interviews that Lives of Girls and Women is a fictional work, and for all intents and purposes, she is correct. The book is indeed a work of autobiographical fiction because it is a fictional story that contains elements of autobiographical fact.

In Munro's novel, Del tries to understand and express her talent as a writer.

Lives of Girls and Women | wisolyvahode.tk

This kind of novel is also sometimes called an "Apprenticeship Novel," which relates the story of a young person who is trying to find his or her place in the world. Furthermore, the apprenticeship novel is sometimes also called a coming-of-age novel or Bildungsroman. In this kind of novel, a young person, often an adolescent, matures into an adult.

Indeed, Del matures from a child to an adult in Lives of Girls and Women as she undergoes a series of adventures and conflicts that ultimately help her grow into a mature adult. In this novel, there is no clearly defined beginning, middle, and end; this is why some critics refer to the book as a series of short stories, rather than a novel. A novel is an extended fictional narrative. The length allows for more complex character development than would be found in a short story and a more substantially developed plot, with a clear movement from beginning to end.

In a conventional novel, each chapter is linked to the preceding chapter by the movement of the plot. In Lives of Girls and Women the plot consists of several loosely linked episodes vignettes in the protagonist's life. These vignettes are episodic and self-contained rather than continuing an overarching plot. Indeed, each chapter in Munro's book could stand alone as a short story, since it is not dependant on information that is contained elsewhere in the book. Yet, other elements aside from the plot hold these stories together, such as their overarching theme and the recurring characters.

Books with these characteristics, like Lives of Girls and Women , are often referred to as interlinked stories. A well-known example is Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. In Lives of Girls and Women , many of the events that Del describes are part of her experience in school. School life in rural Ontario in the s was very different than it is for students attending school in the twenty-first century. The latter part of the s had been a time of school reform in Ontario, and Del would have experienced the new trend of progressivism in her elementary and secondary classes.

Rather than prepare students for an academic education, the emphasis in schools focused on preparing students for working. Many students did not continue on to secondary schools after completing their elementary education and even fewer attended university, and thus, the change in education was to provide practical knowledge, rather than academic knowledge. This was actually the more common scenario in rural villages, where in most cases children had only limited access to secondary schools.

Del's village of Jubilee actually did have a secondary school , which Naomi attended for most of three years, but Frank dropped out before high school in order to work at the Jubilee Dry Cleaners. Because Jubilee has a secondary school , Del explains that almost everyone in her elementary class continued on to high school, although not all stayed long enough to graduate. In addition to providing the kind of vocational training that Naomi chose, which was typing and other secretarial skills, there was an increased emphasis on socialization skills, learning about good hygiene, and teaching self-confidence.

In , the year that Del became a senior in high school, 71 percent of all of Ontario's schools were still one room schools with only a single teacher. Nearly a third of all high schools only had five rooms and one teacher per room. By , it was estimated that 54 percent of all students had dropped out of school by age sixteen. During Del's years in school, education was still very limited in rural areas, and thus her experience in completing high school was still unusual.

Today: In Canada, 74 percent of female university graduates are employed, while only 69 percent of male university graduates have jobs. About 10 percent of all births in Canada are to unwed mothers. Today: The stigma that had been attached to unwed pregnancy has almost completely disappeared, and over one third of all births in Canada are to unwed mothers. The age at first marriage drops to Today: The age at first marriage has risen above that reported in the late s.

For men, the average age at marriage is Del's mother, Addie, often tells her daughter that women lives are changing and that in the future women will have more choices and greater freedoms. During World War II, Del was still just an adolescent, but her mother already knew that Canadian women were doing the work of men to help with the war effort.

About , women held full-time jobs in , the year that the war began. During the war years, though, that number doubled to 1. Women worked in the aircraft industry making planes for the war, and many other women worked in drafting, electronics, and welding, traditionally men's work. Women also ran farms and helped to keep the economy flowing while men were in Europe fighting the war.

However, in spite of their hard work, women were generally paid less than 60 percent of men's wages for the same jobs, and after the war ended, women were expected to quit their jobs, so that there would be sufficient employment for returning soldiers. When the men returned from the war, many women returned to their homes and their soldier husbands and became housewives once again.

These women were not alone. When the war ended, there was an influx of war brides immigrating to Canada. At that time, Canada was still largely rural. Two-thirds of Canada's economy was farm based; 80 percent of farms still did not have electricity in and only 8 percent had indoor plumbing. Although Addie was optimistic that women's lives would be better in the future, life in rural Canada was still very difficult in for women. It was even more difficult for the estimated 48, war brides who left family and homes in Europe to follow their husbands to rural Canada.

Canadian women writers were still relatively rare when Munro began writing, and as Christopher Wordsworth observes in his Guardian Weekly review of Lives of Girls and Women , Canada is "not a great seed-bed of the arts," which makes Munro's achievement all the more notable. Wordsworth describes Munro's work as having "the core and growth of a good novel," and he acknowledges the influence of the short story genre on Munro's novel, which is "episodic in a way that shows its author's apprenticeship to the short story form.

Indeed, reviews of Lives of Girls and Women echo one another in their appreciation of the writer's ability to take ordinary people and events and make them memorable. Because many writers use the ordinariness of small-town life as a subject in their novels, Time magazine critic Geoffrey Wolff writes that while "the threads of this yarn are common enough stuff," it is what "Alice Munro makes of it that is rare.

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According to Wolff, Munro's "achievement is small, but fine. Similar admiration is also noted in Jane Rule's review in Books in Canada. Rule labels Munro "a writer of rare and clear gifts, who requires as much of herself as she does of her readers. Karmiol has a doctorate in English Renaissance literature. She teaches literature and drama at the University of New Mexico , where she is a lecturer in the University Honors Program. She is also a professional writer and the author of several reference texts on poetry and drama.

In the following essay, Karmiol discusses how Del is transformed by her interactions with other women, who provide her with different role models. The female characters in Lives of Girls and Women are women in transition, women on the cusp of change, although it will be 30 plus years before real change happens. In s rural Ontario, Canada, women are defined by their connections to men.

They are sisters, wives, mothers, and daughters but not women in control of their own world. Del's aunts represent one end of the continuum, lives living in the past and with no possibility of change. They exist to give meaning to their brother's work and not to create meaning in their own lives. Addie Jordan and Madeleine Poole represent the other end of the continuum. They are women who will forge their own way—one through intellectual pursuits and the other through violence.

While many of the women in Munro's novel begin their adult lives defined by their connections to the men around them, several have begun to think that there are other ways to exist in a male dominated world. Madeleine is violent and hard, completely unwilling to play the role of dutiful wife. She throws tantrums, yells, and beats her child. While beating her child is not behavior to be emulated, as a model for strong feminine behavior, she teaches Del that women do not have to be docile and willing accomplices in their own subordination.

Rasporich points to Madeleine as "a fascinating character of uncontrollable fury who, raging against her unchosen status of wife of Uncle Benny and mother of the illegitimate child Diane, refuses to conform to even the minimal social expectations of the Flats Road.

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There is no reason to suppose that any woman would find living in Benny's house enjoyable, but Madeleine's options are limited. Her illegitimate child makes her family eager to marry her off to the first likely prospect to appear. When Benny arrives to meet Madeleine, he finds her family has a preacher waiting, a ring in hand, and a wedding celebration planned. Madeleine will not succumb to domestic life and within months, she has fled Flats Road and Benny's life forever. Not all of the women in Lives of Girls and Women commit such radical acts to assert their strength. Aunt Elspeth and Auntie Grace live their lives in the shadow of their brother.

They never marry and instead devote themselves to keeping their brother comfortable.

Lives of Girls and Women

Their meals and activities center around Craig's needs, and they govern their own lives to keep from disturbing his work. The aunts demonstrate that there is safety and comfort in daily routine. They embody a long family tradition in Del's father's family.

Promotions are not sought, scholarships are declined, and spinsterhood is chosen because there is a perceived safety in not taking chances. For the aunts, "choosing not to do things showed, in the end, more wisdom and self-respect than choosing to do them. Being safe and not courting change, never allowing themselves the opportunity to either succeed or grow, is easier than the alternative although not necessarily more rewarding.

Del tells readers that her aunts "respected men's work beyond anything. Sadly, Aunt Elspeth and Auntie Grace's limited lives become even more reduced after their brother's death. The two aunts seem less real, more artificial, their very lives "like something learned long ago, perfectly remembered.

Del points out that the aunts have been so mired in their brother's life that they never had a real life of their own. The stories that they tell are rich in detail and history. Their oral history is as valuable and more interesting to Del than Uncle Craig's ponderously detailed and very dry history, but the aunts have denied the value of their own lives for so long that they can no longer see their own value as independent beings.

Where Aunt Elspeth and Auntie Grace cannot imagine change and Madeleine is only too eager for transformation, Del Jordan's character falls somewhere between these two extremes. Life is not as clear for Del as it is for her role models. She wants knowledge and sees herself not as a wife but as a writer.

She reads everything she can find and imagines what she cannot know.

Lives of Girls and Women Summary & Study Guide

Yet Del has also been brought up to put men first, as her relationship with Jerry Story suggests. Although Del says that he is honest with her, she is not as honest. Del is willing to protect Jerry's feelings, but she is not willing to sublimate herself, as her relationship with Garnet French later proves. Rasporich argues that a very young Del is influenced not by her aunts' endless sacrifices for Uncle Craig but by the rarely seen and yet very visible Madeleine, whose exploits become mythic on Flats Road.

Rasporich claims that Del's "concept of womanhood is influenced by one of Munro's most striking models of female savagery, Madeleine. Indeed, Madeleine's power is more than the violence of her physical attacks, whether throwing a box of Kotex a feminine hygiene product at Charlie Buckle in the town grocery or throwing a kettle through a window or cutting up Benny's wedding suit. Her rebellion teaches Del that women can leave men, which Del does when she denies Garnet ownership over her body.

Madeleine's lesson is that women can only be mastered when they agree to be mastered, regardless of social conventions that dictate otherwise. The lives of most of the other women who inhabit Munro's novel reside in more conventionally defined roles, although not all of these women are happy. Del's friend, Naomi, is more conventional in her approach to life. She quits school for a clerical job at the creamery, a choice that other young women in Jubilee have also made. She conforms to the expectations of her cohorts, filling her hope chest on the layaway plan, focusing on her clothing and hair, and planning her life around meeting a prospective husband.

She is betrayed by her own body when she becomes pregnant. Her mother, who for years has claimed knowledge about sexuality and women's bodies, cannot help her in any way except to push her towards marriage. Indeed, Naomi settles for marriage, home, and family in a way that Del could not. Years earlier she had told Del that girls are responsible if boys take advantage of them.

Naomi was sure that "It's the girl who is responsible because our sex organs are on the inside and theirs are on the outside and we can control our urges better than they can. While she cannot, herself, rebel, Naomi can still urge Del not to be caught in the trap that binds other women. Miss Farris, the tragic teacher, is also a conventional figure.

In an examination of the lives of unmarried female teachers during the s and s, Sheila L. Cavanagh concludes in the History of Education Quarterly that female teachers were forced to meet a restrictive lifestyle that celebrated an "overriding commitment to education. Teaching administrations during this time required that female teachers "adhere to social and professional directives to remain unmarried.

Thus, Miss Farris is part of a profession that requires that she remain single if she wants to continue teaching, and yet her single status invites gossip and seemingly endless speculation. She dresses as if she is younger than her supposed age, which some observers suggest is an attempt to attract a man. Miss Farris was born in Jubilee, educated there, and continued as an adult to live there. She is relegated to a traditional role not only through her sex but through her profession.

  • Lives of Girls and Women - Wikipedia;
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  • Lives of Girls and Women By: Alice Munro by Nooriya Jay on Prezi.

If other women have the meager opportunity to change, Miss Farris's opportunity is even slimmer. She can only permanently transform her world by committing suicide. Del suggests that Miss Farris exists in the past, "away back in time," and when she commits suicide, Del remembers Miss Farris as "imprisoned in that time," and Del is "amazed that she had broken out to commit this act. Her choice as a single school teacher was spinsterhood, and a life that she ultimately found was not worth living.

Some of the girls and women in Jubilee are trapped in lives filled with dissatisfaction, lost dreams, and unrequited loves. The change that Addie predicts will not happen quickly enough to save them. But these are the women whose lives make Lives of Girls and Women so memorable. In Thomas E. Tausky's article, "Alice Munro: Biocritical Essay," the critic argues that Del is an exceptional female character, who acts "firmly, confidently, and constructively in order to shape her own future.

She has transformed herself. Addie warns her daughter that "all women have had up till now has been their connection with men. In the following excerpt, Fowler explores the conflict between stories and reality in Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women. The stories told by men and women are different, but according to Fowler, as the novel progresses, Del learns that women's stories do not have to conform to romantic feminism or to the pragmatic realism of men's stories. As Del Jordan sets off from Jubilee, Ontario, in search of her "real life," she abandons the "black fable" she has concocted out of her small-town childhood and takes with her only the intuition of "Epilogue: The Photographer" that familiar things are both more ordinary and more amazing than she has given them credit for.

They stubbornly resist being turned into fiction: "It is a shock, when you have dealt so cunningly, powerfully, with reality, to come back and find it still there. What is false in her "black fable" is not plot but style. Extraordinary things do happen in Jubilee, but Del has distorted them, trapping people and events in topiary gardens, Regency romance poses, and mannered prose: the "bitter-sweet flesh" of her fictional heroine, Caroline, overlays her Jubilee prototype, "pudgy Marion, the tennis player.

The season was always the height of summer—white, brutal heat, dogs lying as if dead on the sidewalks, waves of air shuddering, jellylike, over the empty highway. Del's perplexity in the face of such narrative challenges underlines Munro's own achievement: her ability to accommodate both the ordinary and the bizarre in her fiction, to enhance observation and experience without wrenching them out of true.

As a child, Del lurches from the world she reads about to the one she lives in and finds that one tends to obliterate the other. The stories in Uncle Benny's tabloid newspaper seem irresistible:. I was bloated and giddy with revelations of evil, of its versatility and grand invention and horrific playfulness. But the nearer I got to our house the more this vision faded.

Why was it that the plain back wall of home, the pale chipped brick, the cement platform outside the kitchen door, washtubs hanging on nails, the pump, the lilac bush with brown-spotted leaves, should make it seem doubtful that a woman would really send her husband's torso, wrapped in Christmas paper, by mail to his girl friend in South Carolina? In the same way, Uncle Bill, when he turns up in the flesh, obliterates the monster of Del's mother's stories: "This was the thing, the indigestible fact. This Uncle Bill was my mother's brother, the terrible fat boy, so gifted in cruelty, so cunning, quick, fiendish, so much to be feared.

I kept looking at him, trying to pull that boy out of the yellowish man. But I could not find him there. He was gone, smothered. Not yet able to appreciate the different ways in which people recount their lives and shape the past to make sense of the present, Del is suddenly sarcastic about one of her mother's favorite stories.

For a moment, in challenging her mother's version of the past she has cast doubt on everything she lives by: "there was something in the room like the downflash of a wing or knife, a sense of hurt so strong, but quick and isolated, vanishing. The handing down of stories from mother to daughter, the re-interpretation of, even resistance to, these stories, the testing of them against experience, is an important structural principle of Lives of Girls and Women.

Implicit in the narrative is the irony that Del, an aspiring writer, never realizes that the stories she is so used to hearing could provide the starting point of a book; she notices only the discontinuities and contradictions between what goes on around her and what she finds written down.

Her attitude is natural in Jubilee, where "reading books was something like chewing gum , a habit to be abandoned when the seriousness and satisfactions of adult life took over. At home, Del's father reads the same three books "over and over again, putting himself to sleep.

He never talked about what he read. As well as these unhelpful models, Del has two special handicaps to contend with in understanding the relationship between literature and life: being Canadian and being a woman. Del is surrounded by chroniclers and story-tellers, by myths and memories and the "baroque concoctions of rumor. Comber's stories are paranoid, Uncle Benny's unlikely, Uncle Bill's formless and sentimental, but none of them seems as far from her conception of Jubilee as Uncle Craig's "public" version of events: a painstaking documentation of local history, "a great accumulation of the most ordinary facts which it was his business to get in order.

For Uncle Craig the war is "a huge eruption in ordinary political life"; he is "more interested in how it affected elections, in what the conscription issue would do to the Liberal Party, than in how it progressed by itself. Chamberlain, who had fought in Italy, "saw it as a conglomeration of stories, leading nowhere in particular.

He made his stories to be laughed at. The art of Munro's fiction is to discover an "overall design" for a "conglomeration of stories. It is not a Bildungsroman , for women's lives are not comfortably accommodated in a genre which presupposes that characters are free to act, develop and make choices, to learn from, not succumb to, experience. Women's stories have their own tenor and direction. Del's aunts, Elspeth and Grace, keep up an endless, sharp dialogue of story-telling which runs along with the pace and mood of their work; stoning cherries, shelling peas, coring apples, "Their hands, their old, dark, wooden-handled paring knives, moved with marvelous, almost vindictive speed.

The female version of the novel of education is about the conflicting claims of individual freedom and biological destiny; imagery of water, as women novelists know so well, is its natural expression. Will the heroine be swept away and drowned or left high and dry? Must her energies be damned up or diverted into narrow channels? It was the drama, the ferment of life just beyond my reach. In the end it is the river itself, gathering force, flooding, receding within each story, which gives the novel its shape and form.

In the end Del learns to keep her head above water; it is not she who is destroyed in the spring flood but her unwanted inheritance, Uncle Craig's dry archive of local history and genealogy …. Once the spell of her Gothic extravaganza is broken, Del is not tempted to opt instead for the utilitarian realism of documentary or journalistic reporting; even before she has finished her revelatory conversation with Bobby Sherriff, she sees the editor of the local newspaper "come out the back door of the Herald-Advance building, empty a wastebasket into an incinerator, and plod back in.

No list, though, can ever be accurate enough or exhaustive enough to contain the details of just one life, and only a story, not a list, can connect and make sense of the details so that they are "held together" as well as "held still": "no list could hold what I wanted, for what I wanted was every last thing, every layer of speech and thought, stroke of light on bark or walls, every smell, pothole, pain, crack, delusion, held still and held together—radiant, everlasting.

In the following excerpt, Martin suggests that Munro uses literary oppositions to create unfamiliar meanings from ordinary events. Alice Munro has such a penetrating and sympathetic intelligence and is such an accomplished writer that there are more ways of seeing the paradoxes and ironies in the substance and style of her work than will occur to any one reader.

The doubleness, or reciprocation, that I'd like to draw attention to in this essay might be expressed in this way: with vivid images and dramatic scenes that, as Sidney puts it in his Apologie , "strike, pierce, [and] possesses the sight of the soule," she presents, and makes real and convincing, concepts that we usually think of in cloudy, abstract terms and—Sidney again—"woordish description. In other words, like Coleridge, she makes the strange familiar, and, like Wordsworth, she makes the familiar wonderful; thus she illuminates and enriches both the strange and the familiar.

Adapting the terms she herself used in the Weekend Magazine of 11 May , one might say that Alice Munro makes the Mysterious Touchable, and the Touchable Mysterious ….