Alice Munro

Essay by geoffreykunUniversity, Bachelor's July 2004

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Alice Munro's collection of short stories in Open Secrets is one example of her focus on women, ordinary women, and the lives they experience and lead. Her stories present us with characters that think, feel, and develop in normal, as well as abnormal, situations. In the following discussion we focus on two of her short stories from Open Secrets, and confer the characters and their development. The stories chosen for examination are "Open Secrets" and "Vandals." Each of them will be discussed individually. Both of the short stories will be presented a discussion and summary concerning the characters and their development.

In the title story, 'Open Secrets,' a teenage girl out on a hike with the Canadian Girls in Training disappears. The story is described from Maureen Stephen's point-of-view, a young woman married to a much older man, a reputable lawyer in town who has speech problem and is recovering from a stroke.

Maureen is a woman apparently obsessed by what may have happened to the girl, and a woman whose own positions in life mirror that happening. She examines the conditions of what happened, or what may have happened, to this young girl, and finds herself examining her own life as a result. "Sometimes when she is just going to sleep but not quite asleep, not dreaming yet, she has caught something. Or even in the daytime during what she thinks of as her normal life. She might catch herself sitting on stone steps eating cherries and watching a man coming up the steps carrying a parcel. She has never seen those steps or that man, but for an instant they seem to be part of another life that she is leading, a life just as long and complicated and strange and dull as...