Poco Feminist Undercurrents in Alice Munro's Carried Away

Topics: Short story, Alice Munro, Fiction Pages: 11 (4543 words) Published: August 5, 2012
“This world is a wilderness in which we may get our station changed, but the move will be out of one wilderness station unto another.” (Munro 336)

This enigmatic quote; a part of ‘A Wilderness Station’ one of the stories in the anthology-‘Carried Away’ by Alice Munroe, not only justifies the title but also sets us onward through the journey into the unique sensations of Post-colonial feminist sensibilities that Munroe lends so easelessly to her work. The term, ‘wilderness’ and the desperate sense of solitude honed by the inner turmoil indicates that the real wilderness stays intact and never leaves a person by a mere change of geography and situation. This sense of being alone in company, being without an association as in the sense of “otherness” opens up and introduces the title of this article Post-colonial feminist reading of Alice Munro’s Man Booker Award winning collection of short stories- ‘Carried Away’. Born Alice Laidlaw in 1931, in Wingham Southwestern Ontario, Munro began writing and publishing stories at the university itself and slowly rose to fame. Her gradual rise to success is a story in itself, how even after many of her short stories appearing regularly in Canadian Forum, Chateline and the Tamarack review, and winning the Governor General’s Award for her first collection, Dance of The Happy Shades in 1968, she was such an obscure figure in Canadian literary circles that when in 1971, Lives of Girls and Women came out, she was called a ‘new talent’! This second book which is the only novel she has written also received Canadian Book Sellers Award. In 1974 she wrote her second collection of short stories Who Do You Think You Are? Which brought Munro her second Governor General’s Award. In 1980 Munro held the position of Writer- in- residence at both the University of British Columbia and the University of Queensland. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Munro published a short story collection about once every four years to increasing acclaim, winning both national and international awards. In 2002, her daughter Sheila Munro published a childhood memoir, Lives of Mothers and Daughters: Growing up with Alice Munro.

“Frequently the narrator in Munroe’s fiction is a young girl,who carefully observes life,not making judgments but noting all the peculiarities in the world around her.The world is authenticated by small textures,the descriptions of setting,matters of dress,standard of conduct,mannerisms of speech,assumptions,and attitudes which specifically characterized the small Ontario town in the 1940’s. There is a documentary quality to the best of Munroe’s fiction” (Alice Munroe)

The above statement forms a firm premise as to why this article is a close attempt to extrapolate the violent undercurrents of colonization to include the Post-colonial feminist strands in Munro’s-‘Carried Away’–a Man Booker Award winner short story anthology. It is proposed that in the due course of this writing, we will see the variety of ways, Munro presents women and where she designates their place in society as they are subjected to the methodic use of institutions to formalize power over them; in most cases it’s the exploration of issues such as marriage, sexuality, parental control and command chain in the family where the girl–child, as well as, the adult women in society have scarce mobility, voice and command positions. When Spivak asks, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’, Munroe seems to validate the rhetoric question by creating numerous characters and spins stories around them where instances of failed and miscommunication abound. Some are not authorized to speak,others lack the courage to do so ,some who do speak; can use the language of the Father or the Law, thus structure, thematic and character portrayal in Munroe’s work supports Post-colonial reading of people especially women. Since Post-colonialism is not just about discussions and research about the history and subsequent effects of colonialism, its...
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