How I Met My Husband

by Alice Munro
Start Free Trial

In "How I Met My Husband," what is your attitude toward Edie, the narrator—sympathy, condescension, disapproval, or something more complicated? Explain.

At the beginning of the story, the reader sort of sympathizes with Edie’s naïvety. She is only fifteen years old, has been to high school for a period of about one year, and is working for the Peebleses, as a house help. Since she comes from a poor background, she has never before used electric appliances such as the automatic washer and dryer and has to learn how to use these at her place of work. When her mistress is away from the house, she spends her time trying out some of her gowns and makeup. Also, she is shy and does not know how to respond to advances or even simple compliments from people of the opposite sex.

Expert Answers

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

At the beginning of the story, the reader sort of sympathizes with Edie’s naïvety. She is only fifteen years old, has been to high school for a period of about one year, and is working for the Peebleses, as a house help. Since she comes from a poor background, she has never before used electric appliances such as the automatic washer and dryer and has to learn how to use these at her place of work. When her mistress is away from the house, she spends her time trying out some of her gowns and makeup. Also, she is shy and does not know how to respond to advances or even simple compliments from people of the opposite sex.

It is naïve of her to expect to receive letters from Chris. It is also naïve of her to think that intimacy means “lying together with a man on a cot and kissing.” While the reader may also disapprove of her behavior, it is clear that the young lady is also struggling with the turbulence of puberty, and very much needs a shoulder to lean on. This may be the reason why Mrs. Peebles forgives her for kissing Chris and promises never to mention the incident again.

Towards the end of the story, the reader is encouraged by Edie’s maturity—the fact that she faces up to the reality of never receiving a letter from Chris. One admires her strength of character in shaking off the memory of Chris and choosing to move on with her life. This contrasts the decision made by the older Alice Kelling, who chooses to follow Chris around, even though he does not want to be with her. It seems that the embarrassing incident with Chris kind of helps Edie to grow into a wiser woman.

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

My reaction to Edie in "How I Met My Husband" is something more complicated.

Whenever a question is asking for the reader's attitude towards a specific character, different answers will emerge.  Evidence from the text can justify different attitudes.  My reaction to Edie is a complicated one because I think that the text reveals her to be a complex character.

I think that Edie's intricacies as a character comes from her ability to observe so much around her.  For example, she can see how unhappy Loretta Bird is in her own life.  Edie also grasps the class barrier between someone like her and the Peebleses.  Edie's complexity is displayed the most in the story's ending.  As she continually waits for the letter from Chris Watters, she understands that it will never arrive.  As a result, Edie is able to articulate a profound observation:  "Till it came to me one day that there were women doing this with their lives, all over.  There were women just waiting and waiting by mailboxes for one letter or another."  Edie understands how human beings "wait" for hope, sometimes accepting illusion over reality.  When she says, "So I stopped meeting the mail" and recognizes the type of woman she wants to be, Edie shows depth.

Edie settles on being happy in daily reality rather than living in the splendor of dreams.  I think that my complicated attitude toward Edie is enhanced with the story's ending. Through Edie's narration, we find out that her husband, the postman, believes that Edie waited each day for him to arrive.  The reality is that she was waiting for a letter from Chris, and not for him.  However, Edie does not correct him.  She says that she likes "for people to think what pleases them and makes them happy."  In this emotionally complex ending, the reader is not certain if Edie has become a figure of sacrifice or one who lives in silence.  Does Edie let her husband think what he wants because she wants to fulfill his dream or because she has lost her own?  I find this emotionally rich terrain appealing in its complexity.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team