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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Stories and storytelling in Alice Munro’s fiction Somerville, J. Christine


References to stories and storytelling appear throughout Alice Munro's five short story cycles: DANCE OF THE HAPPY SHADES, LIVES OF GIRLS AND WOMEN, SOMETHING I'VE BEEN MEANING TO TELL YOU, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? and THE. MOONS OF JUPITER. This thesis contends that stories--mentioned briefly or recounted at length--provide counterpoint to experience for Munro's characters. Oral and written stories influence them throughout life, but especially in youth, when they eagerly identify with, and imitate, fictional figures. In LIVES and WHO, storytelling becomes central because their protagonists are a writer and an actress. Occasionally, the narrators in all five works reflect on the difficulty of expressing truth in fiction, but SOMETHING raises this issue repeatedly. By embedding stories within her narratives, Munro imitates the workings of memory; moreover, she draws attention to her narratives as texts rather than glimpses of reality. A feminine perspective on narrative gradually emerges, in which the woman narrator sees her task not as imposing order, but as discovering order that already exists.

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