An Almost Real Life
“A real life” is a short story; and part of a collection of stories called, “Open Secrets,” written by Alice Munro. This story introduces a woman named Dorrie, a woman who lives in the countryside of Canada. For years since her brother’s death, Dorrie has remained stagnant in her home; collecting berries and muskrat furs to survive, as she and her brother have always done. Suddenly, and unexpectedly an Australian suitor named, Wilkinson Speirs, is introduced to Dorrie over dinner and falls in love with her “free” spirit.” The two begin to send each other letters; shortly thereafter, the man sends a letter containing a marriage proposal. After questioning what she really want out of life, and with a good amount of persuasion from her sister, Dorrie reluctantly decides to marry the rich Australian bachelor. Dorrie’s indecisive attitude toward the marriage proposal does not fit her character’s personality, which is described as: strong, independent, and self-sufficient; and this breaks the realness of the character. Early in the story, the author describes Dorrie as “a big, firm woman with heavy legs, chestnut-brown hair, a broad bashful face, and dark freckles like dots of velvet.”1 From the beginning of the story the author creates a prototype in the reader’s head of a big, strong, outdoorsy woman; a woman who lives her life in a very routine fashion. This routine includes “Trapping and skinning muskrats, collecting walnuts, and hunting rabbits.” All of these attributes make Dorrie stand out as an independent woman who decides her own fate. Strange then, that she’d let the biggest decision of her life (whether or not to marry Mr. Speirs) be influenced so heavily by her sister, Millicent. Letting the biggest decision of her life be dictated by a sister who doesn’t appreciate the lifestyle Dorrie lives makes her character seem extremely dependent, a word that does not fit the personality described to us in the story. Millicent’s argument for...
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