Lives of Girls and Women

by Alice Munro

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Discuss the elements of family and community influencing Del's coming of age.

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Written by Alice Munro in 1971, Lives of Girls and Women is a collection of short stories that chronicle the life of Della Jordan as she grows up on a farm in Jubilee, Ontario, Canada. Although it is recognized as a work of fiction, it has also been described as an autobiographical work in some ways.

Della "Del" Jordan is the first-person narrator of her own coming-of-age stories. The book begins when she is a young girl living with her mother in Jubilee. Del is an intelligent girl, with a curious and questioning mind, and she likes to watch people and the world around her. She is also unconventional, looking to find her own identity and wanting more than her peers in Jubilee. Del is also non-conformist. Finding the community in the small rural town of Jubilee restrictive and suffocating, she rebels against it.

Ada Jordan, Del’s mother, is very much like her daughter in that she is unwilling to conform to society’s expectations of a woman and mother. Del says that

My mother's agnosticism and sociability were often in conflict in Jubilee.

However, despite this similarity in mindset, Del still has a fraught relationship with her mother. Mainly, she rebels against her mother’s domineering authority. Her biggest act of rebellion is when she loses her virginity against the wall of her mother’s house.

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