Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

This story gives its title to a volume of eleven short stories with a variety of female narrators. Unlike many other female narrators in these and other Munro stories, Janet bears a strong resemblance to Munro in a number of ways. Janet is a writer by profession whose father dies in a Toronto hospital, whose marriage (to Richard in Vancouver) has broken up, and whose two daughters live in Toronto. Similarly, Munro’s father died in a Toronto hospital in the 1970’s after a heart operation at a time when her marriage to James Munro in Vancouver had broken up and she had moved back, with two of her three daughters, to Ontario. Although there are differences between the two (Janet has two daughters, not three), the parallels are too blatant to ignore. This award-winning Canadian author is known for drawing on her experiences in southwestern Ontario for many of her characters and stories, so this event in her personal life becomes a resource for at least some part of this story of a daughter’s remembrance of her father.

On the other hand, Janet is typical of many of Munro’s female narrators in that she combines multiple perspectives as she weaves retrospective views of her life and relationships around a core event, in this case, of the father’s hospital stay. From her triple vantage point as daughter, mother, and former wife, she is able to review—and revise—her understanding of past events and her past perceptions, especially of her father. Her...

(The entire section is 475 words.)