How do minor characters like Loretta Bird and Mrs. Peebles help advance the plot, and what else do they add to "How I Met My Husband"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mrs. Peebles and Loretta Bird advance the plot of the story because they provide an alternative narrative that makes Edie's innocence very clear. For example, when they question Edie about whether she was "intimate" with Chris Watters, Edie says yes, as she thinks that kissing someone is being intimate with that person. Loretta Bird curses Edie's ways, advancing the plot, which is the story of Edie's loss of innocence.

In addition, these female characters provide a contrast to Edie's essential purity and foreshadow the woman that she will eventually become. Edie is still young and knows little of the world, the way men act, or the reality behind people's facades. Over time, she will realize that Chris Watters, the dashing pilot, is not a man of his word, and she will become more like the other, more worldly, women in the story, such as Mrs. Peebles and Loretta Bird.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Even minor characters do much to advance the plot in short stories such as "How I Met My Husband" by Alice Munro. In this story, the two aforementioned characters, Loretta Bird and Mrs. Peebles, both serve as a source of information for the main character, Edie. They help to relay important details both to the main character and to the reader as those details become necessary. For example, it is Loretta Bird who announces that the airplane that arrived has come to stay for a little while and that the pilot will be taking people on rides.

However, this is not the only reason that these particular characters are important. "How I Met My Husband" is a story that intensely focuses on femininity, as the main character is a young woman who has a brief but memorable romance with an airplane pilot who, ultimately, leaves her behind. The main character is only fifteen when this happens, but both Loretta Bird and Mrs. Peebles are older women and therefore more worldly than this young character.

They both serve as contrasts to the young and innocent Edie, who does not know much about romance or even understand what it means to be "intimate" with a man. This is evident in the climactic scene in which they ask Edie whether she has been intimate with the airplane pilot and she responds that she has, though they only kissed, to which both women react with astonishment.

Overall, it is seemingly minor characters such as these who serve to enrich stories, providing the reader with more background, more thematic elements to consider, and more ways to engage with the reading material.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Loretta Bird and Mrs. Peebles advance the plot because they are minor, yet, present characters that add insight into the narrator's state of mind.  What I mean by this is that the narrator listens to them when they speak about love, life, etc., (especially Mrs. Peebles) and learns from this.  Loretta is a form of comic relief for me. She's the neighbor that always comes over when she's not invited, etc., because she is bored!  Mrs. Peebles is very important to the plot because she is a great influence on the narrator, in many ways, and is the one who the narrator is working for as a housecleaner, etc.  Near the end of the story, Mrs. Peebles provides some support for the narrator when the "sticky" situation arises between Chris' girlfriend and the narrator.  Mrs. Peebles reprimands the narrator, but keeps her on as her housecleaner. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial