Ned, in the “The Quiet One,” spends a good deal of time worrying about being “a different breed” from his friends. By Contrast, the protagonist of “An Ounce of Cure” agonizes over the “painful banality” with which she behaves while in love with Martin Collingwood. Both, however, are shocked out of their dramatized feelings by what Munro calls, “the terrible and fascinating reality of … the way things happened.”
- Analyze and compare the incidents that startle the two adolescents out of their more or less self-inflicted miseries. What do the two incidents have in common? In what ways do they differ? How would you feel if you had experienced these incidents? Do you think they would change your life? If so, in what way? Now, compare what the two protagonists have to say about how they were affected by the incidents. Are you convinced by what they say their experiences did to them? Explain why or why not in an essay.
- Imagine that Ned, in the “The Quiet One,” attends the same school as the narrator of “An ounce of Cure.” Their English Language Arts teacher has instructed them to work together as a group to analyze the pressures adolescents unwittingly exert on each other. Write a narrative in which your characters discuss the pressures their peers do or do not exert on them.
â€œWhy is it a temptation to refer to this sort of thing lightly, with irony, with amazement…?Â That is what we are apt to do, speaking love; with adolescent
love, of course, itâ€™s practically obligatory…â€
Two voices seem to be speaking in the above passage:Â there is the narrator of â€œAn Ounce of Cure,â€ who asks her readers why we all tend to trivialize our memories of unrequited adolescent love.Â And then there is the author, who asks the question apparently to herself; not to draw her readers into a shared experience, but rather to muse on the question of why she, and other writers, tend to speak of teenaged passions in such jocular tones.Â Munro realizes, as few writers do, that one has to set bounds not just to sympathy (that, apparently, is easy enough to do) but also to humour.
But Munroâ€™s accomplishment lies not only in establishing the right tone, nor even finding the right blend of adolescent and adult voices, but also in so framing and editing the story of a former â€œcatastropheâ€ as to show both the cause as perceived by the adolescent (â€œmy own incommodious natureâ€) and the cause as perceived by the adult.Â From the adult narratorâ€™s perspective, the adolescent needs only to get beyond her sense of helplessness (â€œdominated my mind,â€ â€œagainst my will,â€ â€œgave up my soul for deadâ€); needs only to be cured, as the title suggests, not so much in the sense of overcoming a disease as in the sense of ripening or maturing.Â Munroâ€™s narrator is eventually able to respond in her own terms to a gentlemanâ€™s â€œreminiscent smile.â€Â If she gives the adult Martin Collingwood â€œa gentle, uncomprehending look,â€ it is a decidedly gentle but fully comprehending look that she gives her teenaged self.
Did you ever â€œput your foot in it?â€Â Looking back on something foolish or wrong that you did five or six years ago is an embarrassing or at least disquieting experience; the question â€œHow could I have been soâ€”awkward/stupid/dumb/unfeeling?â€ invariably comes to mind.
Alice Munro is well known to almost any lover of literature in Canada, and is one of our most internationally recognized writers.Â While Munro (nÃ©e Laidlaw) started writing in her early teens, her marvelously crafted short stories did not find their way into hardcover until 1968, when her firs collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, won a Governor Generalâ€™s Award.Â Since that time, her novel Lives of Girls and WomenÂ and her growing number of short story collections have won numerous awards, both here and abroad.Â She has also written a number of television scripts including one for the CBC series â€œThe Newcomers.â€Â Munro writes with a sensitive understanding of the depth of the experiences of â€œordinary folk,â€ describing these experiences in such patient and engaging detail that, in Munroâ€™s own words, they are â€œnot real but true.â€
Munro says adults are often tempted to refer to their adolescent behaviour with irony, humour, and amazement, but she implies that it is not always fair to oneâ€™s younger self to do so.Â She says she did â€œall the stupid, sad, half-ashamed things…that people in love always do.â€Â And then she gives a list of examples.Â Are you in love now?Â Have you been love?Â Have you done some of the â€œstupid, sad, half-ashamed thingsâ€ Munro speaks of (pp. 32-33)?Â Describe the experience, with as much detail as possible, in your journal.Â Try to avoid speaking of yourself in a derogatory way; after all, as MunroÂ says, this is what people in love always do.
Fill in the blanks in the paragraph below with whatever words seem most appropriate.Â Then compare your choices with those of two other students.Â In each case, decide which of the three choices you find most effective.Â Then compare the groupâ€™s results with Munroâ€™s (p. 31).Â Explain why you do or do not find her choice of words (her diction) more effective than your own.
My father would drink a beer on a hot day, but my mother did not join him, andâ€”whether accidentally or _______________________â€”this drink was always consumed outsideÂ the house.Â Most of the people we knew were the same way, in the small town where we lived.Â I ought not to say that it was this which got me into difficulties, because the difficulties I got into were a _______________________ expression of my own _______________________ accomplishment (my departure for my first formal dance, I mean, or my hellbent preparations for a _____________________Â on college) with an expression of ___________________ and
_______________________ despair, as if she could not possibly expect, did not ask, that it should go with me as it did with other girls; the dreamed of spoils of daughtersâ€”orchids, nice boys, diamond ringsâ€”would be borne home in due course by the daughters of her friends, but not by me; all she could do was hope for a lesser rather than a greater ___________________â€”an elopement, say, with a boy who could never earn his living, rather than an ________________________ into the _____________________ _____________________ trade.