All the Years of Her Life

by Morley Callaghan

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Describe an incident in your own life when you had a moment of revelation about someone. What truth did you see that was not apparent to you before, and how did it change the way you behaved afterwards?

Do you think that Mr. Carr should have turned Alfred over to the police? Would Alfred have been better off in the long run by being prosecuted, or is his realization of how much his mother is suffering going to be sufficient for him to change his ways? Explain your answer based on events in the story.

Write a short story approximately two pages in length that follows the structure of many of the stories in Callaghan’s collection Now That April’s Here and Other Stories. Your story should consist of a brief prelude, in which the situation is explained, followed by a confrontation. The confrontation should lead to some moment of realization (or revelation) on the part of the protagonist in which he or she reaches a new understanding of life or a fresh understanding of his or her relationship with someone else. Limit the story to three characters or fewer.

Research the Great Depression of the 1930s. What were the causes of the depression? What was life like for those who were unemployed or underemployed? How did people survive such hardships? What changes did the Great Depression bring about in social and economic policy in the United States and Canada?

Rewrite ‘‘All the Years of Her Life’’ from the point of view of Mr. Carr. Show how he reacts to what happens. Show what he thinks and feels. For the final scene, after Mrs. Higgins and Alfred have left, show Mr. Carr reflecting on what has happened and wondering whether he made the right decision. Give him a moment of revelation, when he realizes something about life that had not struck him before.

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