Meneseteung Prompt #4
Alice Munro uses unique description within her stories, specifically within “Meneseteung”, to not only make the reading more vivid to the reader but also many would argue that she is hinting at what her opinions are about that moment within the reading through her use of description. In the beginning of the story Alice describes all of the physical features and accomplishments of the main character, Almeda Joynt Roth. Munro uses this detailed description of Almeda and her family story early on for the reader to have more of a backstory about her. Munro effectively changes up her writing styles throughout “Meneseteung” in describing different events to create a different feeling to the reader. From the simple description of Almeda’s physical traits, to the frantic description when she takes her medicine, to the personal sympathy the author feels toward Almeda in the end of the story, Alice Munro is poking her opinion in those scene through her detailed descriptions.
Munro keeps a distant un-personal type of relationship through this beginning of the story by talking about Almeda from a simple photograph Munro saw of her on the front of the book, Offering. While describing Almeda Joynt Roth, Munro uses first person words and phrases to shed light on how she views the character. “She also wears a hat, something like a soft beret, that makes me see artistic intentions, or at least a shy and stubborn eccentricity, in this young woman, whose long neck and forward- inclining head indicate as well that she is tall and slender and somewhat awkward… But perhaps it was the fashion (51).” Many view that Alice Munro gives a greater sense of complexity by giving her opinions on Almeda while describing her physical features at the same time. Munro must have encountered a similar personality to Almeda because someone might not see a person with traits of someone tall and slender as awkward. Alice Munro also uses this same type of audience engaging description to introduce the second main character, Jarvis Poulter, to the story.
Many think that the most interesting part of her audience description about Jarvis Poulter is when she is asking questions to herself mid-sentence about Jarvis introducing his physical traits first to influence the reading to make the connection between him and Almeda Joyth Roth. Munro writes, “This is a decent citizen, prosperous: a tall – slightly pauchy? – man in a dark suit with polished boots. A beard? Black hair streaked with grey (57).” Later on, Jarvis walks Almeda home from church. That is when the theme of their love develops. A reader can almost feel the sexual tension between the two by when Almeda describes the smells on Jarvis, the soap he uses, his barber’s oil, the way his clothes smell. “She thinks of him coming into her – their – bedroom in his long underwear and his hat… He would be her husband (60).” Almeda goes on...