Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Like many of Munro’s stories, this one has a tone of charming intimacy and confidentiality about it, mediated in this case through the double perspective of its first-person narrator. Edie tells her story as a memoir: She is no longer the fifteen-year-old romantic, but the middle-aged Mrs. Carmichael who understands what her younger self did not and could not.

Perhaps more than anything else, it is Munro’s remarkable gift of rendering her central characters as persons one can know, understand, and feel close to that attracts one to her work. Even the less sophisticated characters such as young Edie often yield meanings that surprise by their depth and spirituality, meanings that flow from the author’s deft touches of detail through her character’s perception: Loretta hooking her legs around the chair rung; Alice’s freckled and wrinkled fingers; and especially Edie remembering Chris after all these years, not bitterly for the unkept promise, but almost wistfully for the kisses, the kindness in his face, and the words, “I wouldn’t do you any harm for the world.” Such authentic detail animates both style and character and rewards the reader with moral significance and aesthetic delight.