Topics for Further Study
In ‘‘Meneseteung’’ the narrator creates a story by citing fictional news clippings and reconstructing the historical events this fictional paper discusses, filling in the blanks with guesswork. Pick a little-known historical event, and use the bits of information available to create your own historical short story, using your knowledge of the topic to fill in the blanks where necessary.
In the story, Almeda Roth is a female poet. While the townspeople claim her literary gifts as a town treasure, they also believe that she should give them up to get married and take care of her husband. Choose another female writer from the late nineteenth century and write a short biography about her, focusing on how her talents were received by her society.
Research the history of female painters in the nineteenth century, and compare the challenges that they faced to the challenges that Almeda faces in the story.
Draw a map of Canada, circa the late nineteenth century when the main events of the story take place. Identify the general region in which Almeda Roth lives, and, using the geographical clues in the story—as well as any relevant information from the author’s own geographical background— try to pinpoint the specific area where Munro intends the story to take place.
One of the final news clippings in the story describes Almeda as having become an unusual eccentric, but, given the details, it seems likely that Almeda has gone insane. Research the history of insanity in the late nineteenth century, and discuss several methods that were used to deal with the mentally ill. For each method, try to find an actual historical example to illustrate your idea.