How I Met My Husband

by Alice Munro

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What are the internal and external conflicts in "How I Met My Husband" by Alice Munro?

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In "How I Met My Husband," the external conflict is the love triangle between Edie, Chris Watters, and Alice Kelling. Edie, who is fifteen, is enjoying a flirtation with Chris when Alice, his fiancee, shows up. Chris has a relatively innocent tryst with Edie that Alice finds out about and that causes Alice to erupt in anger. Chris leaves after this tryst, and Edie never sees him again.

The internal conflict revolves around Edie's growing sense of herself as a woman. At the beginning of the story, she tries on a dress that belongs to her employer, Mrs. Peebles, and she wants to feel older and more sophisticated than she is. Her flirtation with Chris is part of this process, and she observes the interaction with Chris and Alice without truly understanding it—or Chris's apparent inability to be committed to a woman—the way an older person would. Instead, she waits by the mailbox to receive the letter she thinks he will write her. She has a realization over time: "Till it came to me one day there were women doing this with their lives, all over. There were women just waiting and waiting by mailboxes for one letter or another" (page numbers vary by edition). Edie has the epiphany that women too often believe what men say and live their lives waiting for happiness that never comes. At that point, she resolves her conflict by getting involved with and eventually marrying the mailman who visits the house each day.

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