How I Met My Husband Essay
According to Aida Edemariam, writing in The Guardian in 2003, “For a long time, Alice Munro has been compared with Chekhov.” The most significant difference between Munro and Chekhov is that Munro focuses on the female experience. Tim Struthers points out, however, that Munro writes neither explicitly political nor feminist stories; instead, they are concerned with the struggle women face between rebellion and respectability—what Munro calls “the underbelly of relationships.”
Munro’s first collection of short stories, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968), and two subsequent collections won the prestigious Governor General’s Award in Canada. The New York Times’s review of Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You six years later (Busch, 1974) was cautious in its praise, however. Although it acknowledged that Munro’s stories are “well-made,” it also concluded they are merely “journeyman’s work...[and] no more than that.” As for “How I Met My Husband,” the critic complains that Munro betrays Edie by not allowing her to speak aloud the truth of her story at its conclusion, showing “an effort…for the narrative voice to be well-liked” and resulting in a tone that is “sycophantic.”
Many critics, however, have since disagreed with the review in The New York Times. George Woodcock (1986) praises the regionalism and simplicity of Munro’s work, explaining that “from her start she had her own view of life, largely as she had lived it herself, and her aim was to express it in a fiction distinguished by craftsmanship and clear vision.” He compares her work to “magic realist painters” because the “photographic element in her presentation of scenes and characters” lead to a deeper insight into who they are.
Although she does not in particular address “How I Met My Husband,” Helen Hoy (1980) argues that Munro uses paradox in the collection Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You, “the linking of incongruities in language or action” to “present the contradictions not only within emotions but also between emotion and behavior,” and that Munro offers “little attempt to reduce the inconsistency or explain why actions defy their motivations; the two conflicting realities are simply juxtaposed.” This understanding of the salience of paradox to Munro’s stories helps explain the sudden change in Edie’s view of waiting for Watters and the rather bizarre event of him barnstorming into town and changing her life in the way he does.
The short story How I Met My Husband, by Alice Munro, is an excellent example of realistic writing. She uses ordinary and worldly events, actual locations, and a very ironic tone in the story. Alice Munro also uses everyday people for her protagonists, who encounter normal events and emotions. In the story How I Met My Husband, Edie shows the growth from someone who is very naÐ"Ð‡ve to someone who is more realistic.
In the beginning of this story, Edie is a very naÐ"Ð‡ve fifteen-year-old girl. She does not yet realize that the world does not cater to her, or tell her how to do everything in life. One way she shows this is by thinking that at school, Ð²Ð‚Ñšthe work was hard, they didnÐ²Ð‚™t make it nice for you or explainÐ²Ð‚¦Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (Munro, page 38). When Edie tries on the dress and Chris catches her wearing it, she is too naÐ"Ð‡ve to notice that he is teasing her, and she Ð²Ð‚ÑšdidnÐ²Ð‚™t know how to jokeÐ²Ð‚¦Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (Munro, page 41). Working for the Peebles is EdieÐ²Ð‚™s initial experience being Ð²Ð‚Ñšaway from the home for the first timeÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Munro, page 38), which has greatly affected how she sees the world. Not yet being away from the home for an extended period has made Edie very unaware of how men can act towards young females. Edie does not show the normal maturity that most girls her age should show.
Towards the middle of the story, Edie spends some time with Chris. The interactions between them shows that Edie is starting to mature, but it also shows that she is still very naÐ"Ð‡ve and not at all realistic. While she was visiting Chris, Edie was Ð²Ð‚Ñškissing back as well as I couldÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Munro, page 49), but she did not have any experience with boys, let alone men like Chris before. When Chris was leaving, Edie Ð²Ð‚ÑšwasnÐ²Ð‚™t at all sad, because he held my face and said Ð²Ð‚?IÐ²Ð‚™m going to write you a letter. IÐ²Ð‚™ll tell you where I am and maybe you can come and see me.Ð²Ð‚™Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (Munro, page 49). She was still inexperienced enough to think that a letter from Chris would come. When Edie gets back from her visit with Chris, Alice Kelling was waiting. When Alice asked Edie if she was intimate with Chris, Edie tells her yes. At this point, Edie is still too immature to realize that kissing was not what Alice meant when she said intimate. Mrs. Peebles had to explain to Edie that Ð²Ð‚Ñšbeing intimate means a lot more than that [kissing]...Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (Munro, page