Themes and Meanings
Like much of Alice Munro’s other fiction, “Meneseteung” focuses on isolation and alienation. In the small, highly conventional Ontario towns that the author so often uses as her setting, to be a nonconformist is to be a social outcast. In her obituary, Almeda is measured against her society’s ideal of what a woman should be. In her early years, when she attended church regularly, took part in church activities, took care of her parents, dressed neatly, and did nothing to surprise the other townspeople, they approved of her. The fact that this society based its judgments purely on appearances is reflected in the early Almeda’s being labeled a profoundly religious person, while the later Almeda, whose inner life was far richer, is assumed to have been mentally ill simply because she was unkempt and unpredictable. Although the writer does not approve of the way Almeda was mocked in those later years and deplores the cruel prank that probably resulted in her death, there is in the obituary a subtle suggestion that women who ignore society’s expectations do so at their own risk.
What the Vidette cannot know is that Almeda did not just drift into eccentricity but chose to be different from others in her community. Almeda seems to have no doubt that she could slip into a wife’s role as easily as she had that of the dutiful daughter and even that of the pious community leader. However, although she believes that married life with Jason...
(The entire section is 445 words.)