The doctor gives Almeda ‘‘bromides and nerve medicine’’ for insomnia. He advises her to do housework and to exercise but not to read. It is his opinion that ‘‘her troubles would clear up if she got married,’’ despite the fact that he prescribes nerve medicine most often for married women.
The narrator is a person of unspecified gender who relates the tale of Almeda Roth, the story inside Munro’s short story, but who admits at the end that he or she is not sure the story happened that way, since he or she has guessed on many of the historical details. The narrator’s presence is most noticeable at the beginning and ending of Munro’s story. In between, the narrator gradually fades into the background, and the story focuses more and more on specifics in Roth’s life that the narrator could not possibly know, such as Roth’s thoughts during individual events. At the end of the story, the narrator visits Roth’s grave, where the authenticity of the story is called into question.
Jarvis Poulter is the initial love interest of Almeda Roth in the narrator’s story. Poulter, a widower, arrived a few years before the main action of the story takes place. He lives two lots down from Roth and has only shown casual interest in her, talking with her on occasion but never making a formal show of interest, such as asking her to walk to church with him or accompany him on a trip to the countryside. Poulter has become rich through a number of businesses, most notably salt mining, but he still has the tendency to collect coal from alongside the railroad tracks and take water from the public pump. When Roth comes to him early one morning in a panic, telling him about the dead body against her fence, Poulter realizes that the woman slumped against Roth’s fence is merely drunk and roughly makes the woman leave. Attracted to Roth’s desperate vulnerability, Poulter asks her to church, but Roth ultimately refuses, and the two never pursue a relationship. Poulter dies less than a year after Roth.
Queen Aggie is the nickname for a drunk woman who gets harassed by youths who roll her around in a wheelbarrow before dumping her into a ditch.
Almeda Joynt Roth
Almeda Roth is the main character in the narrator’s story. Roth is a historical...
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