How is the use of carefully chosen details demonstrated in "Royal Beatings"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A characteristic of Munro's style is her ability to take small details and combine them together to form a realistic narrative of great power and weight. This is clear from this story in the details that Munro gives us, that may seem somewhat random, but when read in hindsight, becomes a vital part of the text and story. With Munro, nothing is wasted in her prose, and all contribute towards the overall power of the piece. Consider the following example taken from the beginning of the story when Rose imagines what is meant by a "Royal beating":

She came up with a tree-lined avenue, a crowd of formal spectators, some white horses and black slaves. Someone knelt, and the blood came leaping out like banners. An occasion both savage and splendid.

Of particular note is the simile where blood is described as leaving the victim of a "royal beating" like banners, which is a strange comparison to draw under such situations. However, what is key to realise is that after the beating in the story, a celebratory or almost jubilatory mood descends on this family, and it does appear to be both "savage and splendid" in the way that it almost acts as a cathartic experience for Rose and her father and stepmother. What appears to be a small detail can therefore be seen to actually be incredibly important in the overall framework of the story.

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Royal Beatings

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