Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Alice Munro is perhaps the most accomplished short-story writer of her time practicing that often underrated art. The style of “Floating Bridge,” typical of Munro’s technique, is an example of the classic realistic short-story style that originated with Anton Chekhov. The understated and restrained language and rhythm of the prose, suggesting Jinny’s resigned acceptance of her illness and her impending death, is sustained throughout, even though at the very beginning of the story, Jinny has learned that her cancer has entered a stage of remission. Because she has already accepted the relative freedom from responsibility that knowledge of her incurable disease gave her, she shows no exuberance at this new knowledge that she has more time than she thought she did.

Jinny’s inability to accept the new information of her cancer’s remission also justifies the fact that the reader does not learn of her reprieve until late in the story. Even then, Jinny’s memory of the interview with the doctor is intercut by an obscene, but actually harmless, joke that Matt tells her. The irony of this scene, in which the sacred gift of life forms a counterpoint with bawdy humor, is indicative of Munro’s technique of setting up thematic parallels that echo throughout the story.

Munro’s use of the final metaphor of the floating bridge is also typical of her art, as well as a tendency of the short story in general to reconcile complex moral issues...

(The entire section is 476 words.)


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Franzen, Jonathan. “Alice’s Wonderland.” The New York Times Book Review, November 14, 2004, 1, 14-16.

Howells, Coral Ann. Alice Munro. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 1998.

McCulloch, Jeanne, and Mona Simpson. “The Art of Fiction CXXXVII.” Paris Review 131 (Summer, 1994): 226-264.

Moore, Lorrie. “Leave Them and Love Them.” The Atlantic Monthly 294, no. 5 (December, 2004): 125.

Munro, Sheila. Lives of Mothers and Daughters: Growing Up with Alice Munro. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2001.

Ross, Catherine Sheldrick. Alice Munro: A Double Life. Toronto: ECW Press, 1992.

Simpson, Mona. “A Quiet Genius.” The Atlantic Monthly 288, no. 5 (December, 2001): 126.