爱丽丝门罗的《逃离》
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绵阳师范学院

本科生毕业论文(设计)

题 目 The Analysis of the Female

Self-redemption in Runaway

《逃离》中女性自我救赎的解读 专 业

英 语 院 部

外国语学院 学 号 1204021107 姓 名

李宁 指导教师

胥少先 副教授 答辩时间

二○ 一六 年 五 月

论文工作时间: 2015 年 6 月 至 2016 年 4 月

Contents

1. Introduction ........................................................................................................... . ....1

2. Reasons for the Female Self-redemption in Runaway . .............................................. 3

2.1 Female Social Status in the Material, System and Spiritual Cultures ................ 3

2.2 Alice Munro’s Personal Reasons ...................................................................... 3

2.3 The Reversion—Female Psychological Goal . ..................................................... 4

3. Self-redemption—Female Rebellion against Fate . ..................................................... 5

3.1 The Self-redemption from Their Families . ......................................................... 5

3.2 The Self-redemption from Humanity ................................................................. 7

3.3 The Self-redemption from Themselves..............................................................8

4. Conclusion ............................................................................................................... 10

Bibliography ................................................................................................................ 12

Acknowledgements . ..................................................................................................... 13

《逃离》中女性自我救赎的解读

学生姓名:李 宁

指导教师:胥少先

摘 要:《逃离》是艾丽丝门罗的短篇小说集,里面一共包括了8篇小说。在这8篇小说中,艾丽丝门罗从女性的角度描写了一系列以女性为主人公的事件。这本小说是为了讲述现代女性所经历的困苦以及她们如何进行抗争。本文试图分析在这一系列故事中女性的自我救赎,女性自我救赎的分析主要包括女性不断进行逃离的原因以及她们通过自我救赎真正想得到的东西。

关键词: 《逃离》 ; 女性; 自我救赎

The Analysis of the Female Self-redemption in

Runaway

Undergraduate: Li Ning

Supervisor: Xu Shaoxian

Abstract: Runaway is a collection of Alice Munro’s short stories, which consists of eight short stories. In the stories of Runaway, Alice Munro relates a series of events from the perspective of female characters. The core of this novel is to give an account of the hardships that modern women have experienced and how they struggle. This thesis intends to analyze the female self-redemption in the stories. The analyses of the female self-redemption mainly include the reasons why female characters intend to run away and what they are really expecting with their self-redemption.

Key Words: Runaway ; female; self-redemption

1 1. Introduction

The well-known contemporary Canadian short-story writer Alice Munro is recognized as one of the most influential, sensitive and deeply insightful writers all over the world. In 2013, Swedish Academy announced the Nobel Prize for Literature belonging to the Canadian writer Alice Munro. As is known to us, she is the 82-year old short-story woman writer. In her daily life, she keeps a low profile and focuses on privacy, and she is keen to observe everything around her. Over the past decades, during her distinguished career she has also got innumerable prizes, from Man Booker International Prize to other prizes in North America. She is considered as the Canadian Chekhov. Permanent Secretary Peter England holds the idea that she is the Master of Contemporary short stories. Moreover, the prize represents the important international recognition. She is the first Canadian writer who has got Nobel Prize for Literature. Alice Munro is one of the most outstanding women writers in the world today. She has published more than ten collections of stories as well as a novel, Lives of Girls and Women. Most of her works are related to women’s love, daily life and marriage. She has written so many famous short stories. For instance, The Dimensions of a Shadow , Dear Life , Friend of My Youth , Dance of the Happy Shades . At the same time, these works are a contracted reflection of the female growth and female self-redemption. The writer’s deep and sincere emotion is fully expressed through these excellent and evoking works. The American Media and European rate Munro as one of the greatest writers today. Alice Munro has won Gillers Prize twice and the Governor General Award for three times which is the most prestigious prize in Canada. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, and other publications, and her collections have been translated into thirteen languages.“

The New York Times argues that no one working today can write more convincingly about ‘the progress of love ’ than Alice Munro.... She stands as one of the living colossi of the modern short story, and her Chekhovian realism, her keen psychological insight, her instinctive feel for the emotional arithmetic of domestic life has indelibly stamped contemporary writing. (Blodgett, Alice Munro, 2013)

Runaway , published in 2004, which comprises eight short stories. Runaway , a collection of her short stories, is her masterpiece. Moreover, Runaway epitomizes her usual writing style. The core of this novel is to express the hardships that modern women have experienced and how they struggle. In the stories of Runawa y, the author

2 relates a series of events from the perspective of female self-redemption. The heart of these events is enclosing the behavior of female runaway, so-called self-redemption from different social classes. Runaway depicts female’s values and world view elaborately to a large extent at that time. It is to reflect the female life difficulty and helplessness through the tragedy happened in the life of concrete and emotional characters. In this paper, the theme of the novel aims to study female self-redemption. And then I will deplore into female self-redemption in this novel. In a consequence, I will summarize the reasons of female self-redemption through the study of this novel and a large number of preparations.

What is more, it will illuminate me with further understanding, inspiration and thinking. It is merely a story of women in the contemporary era grow up and learn to become themselves, how they love and hate, and quarrel and forgive, and suffer and enjoy, self-redemption and psychological reversion, how certain habits of living and ways of thinking are formed. It mainly describes so many characters with distinct personality traits, especially female figures to show the change of the time so-called female self-redemption during that time. Self-redemption is the female rebellion against fate, including self-redemption from their families, from humanity and from themselves. These are also the complicated and intriguing meaning points which make Runaway more expressive and evoking. Most of Alice Munro’s famous works have made a great contribution to Canada culture, as well as world literature.

Because of very limited translation in China, to a great extent, it restricts the domestic researchers for further studies. It is valid that Munro’s works encounter short shrift. People attach more importance to the translation of novels, whereas British and American writers get more attention. Because of a late start to Munro’s works, coupled with lack of information, the study to Munro is very shallow, and the theses are also relatively scattered. On the whole, the studies about Alice Munro’s works are unsystematic and lack of overall consciousness. It demands for more academic research to fill the blank. Domestic researchers can draw lessons from foreign related research results, widen the vision continuously, and find new research ideas so that we can study Munro’s works from different perspectives. As for Runaway , many people are likely and prone to study the apparent causes, for example, family background, educational experience, outward environment and so on. Of course, these reasons are important, to some extent, critical to female self-redemption. As far as I’m concerned, in addition to these reasons, female psychological goals ――reversion is the most accurate answer for their longing. However the environment does influence on people, it is people himself who can do the final decision. As a result, I will devote my undivided attention to the comprehensive analysis on female self-redemption, that is to say, female rebellion against fate, which

3 consists of three aspects, self-redemption from families, from humanity and from themselves.

In this thesis, I adopt feminism. Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. Feminism is a collection of movements and aims at defining, establishing and defending equal political, economic and social rights and status for women. In Runaway , it demonstrates the social status, which mainly consists of female struggle for freedom, equality and psychological reversion. Unavoidably, female characters are trying their best to rescue themselves from dilemma.

2. Reasons for the Female Self-redemption in Runaway

This part, mainly introduces three branches. The first part is the female social status in the material, system and spiritual cultures; the second part is Alice Munro’s personal reasons; the third part is the reversion――female psychological goals.

2.1 Female social status in the material, system and spiritual cultures

As for the history, a book named A Short Story of Canada said that “Canadians believe that their history is short, boring, and irrelevant. They are wrong on all counts. The choices Canadians can make today have been shaped by history... In each generation, Canadians have had to learn how to live with each other in this big, rich land. It has never been easy. For those who ignore history, it is doubly difficult.”(Conron, Munro ’s Wonderland, 1978: 109)

Canada is situated in the North America. If one has to use two words to describe Canada, they might be large and diverse. In the past several hundred years, Canada encountered colonial rule by British and French. However, Canada has got something in some aspects by chance, such as gradually gains economic power and become prosperous. On July 1, 1867, the four colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Canadian were united under the British North America. Act as the Dominion of Canada, today July 1 is celebrated as Canada’s National Day (Nischik, The Canadian Short Story , 2007:11). After that, Canada maintains its development and prosperity continuously. Since then, Canada plays an important and critical role in the international and regional affairs gradually. In a consequence, many immigrants begin to pour into Canada. Otwava, Canada’s capital, is located in Ontario. Ontario is the biggest district in Canada. Education, technology and economy are far ahead other districts in Canada. When it comes to spiritual cultures, I’d like to introduce Canada’s multiculturalism. Canada is a society built around existing aboriginal peoples, two founding European cultures, and successive waves of immigration. Canada reflects a cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity that is found nowhere else on earth. And it is a country characterized by its diversion.

In 1971, Canada became the first country in the world to adopt an official

4 Multiculturalism Policy. The Multiculturalism Policy is based on the fundamental values that unite Canadians, such as respect for human rights, equality and recognition of diversity. Canada is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world. Of course, females also have received the advanced conception and culture so that they attach more importance to their rights, equality and recognition of freedom, including the author of Runaway , Alice Munro.

2.2 Alice Munro’s personal reasons

Alice Munro, the representative of the Canadian women writer. She is famous for writing short story all over the world. Time Magazine selected her 100 most influential people of the world”. She was born in Ontario in 1931. And she lived in the wild and peaceful land for a very long time. Gradually, she formed a writing style with depicting ordinary female life in suburban town. And the background of her stories is mainly based on rural town and her neighborhood.

The characters in Runaway have most similarities in personality, the experience of birth and death, marriage and divorce. Her father Bob Reid is a local farmer, running for a fox farm. Her mother was a primary school teacher before getting married. Wingham town has the typical characteristics of Ontario towns, quiet and peaceful, which has always been her most important source of inspiration. Munro’s family life provides source material for her creation continuously, and makes it become the classic in Canadian literature. Her parents were fond of reading and paid the utmost attention to education, as well as Alice Munro. In 1949, she entered the Department of Journalism, Western Ontario University. Since then, she seldom came back here. The things happened in Wingham have become the most precious spiritual treasure, which exist in her memory, in her creation, in her vivid stories. According to her works, these things are fully and vividly expressed. To a large extent, the reason why Munro’s works are so impressive is that her stories are deeply rooted in life, with distinctive local cultures in the country, and the rich flavor of life. As for memory, it is the most abundant source of her inspiration. And furthermore, she received advanced education and then the higher requirements to the pursuit of the female liberation and self-redemption come into being.

Alice Munro wanted to be brave and liberal like her father in her childhood, so that the female characters she depicted are always seeking for freedom, seeking for self-redemption, self-redemption from their families, from humanity and from themselves.

2.3 The Reversion—Female Psychological Goals

Around the World War 1, in the first phrase of the development of Canadian literature, the center of the literary performance was the relationship between man and

5 nature. In the course of the WWI and the WWII, the center of the literary performance shifted from the relationship between human and nature to human and society (Bloom, Bloom ’s Modern Critical Views, 2009:94-98). The litterateur began to think over the society and life. The third period is after the WWII. The economy of Canada has experienced from recovery to prosperity. As for writers, on the one hand, they are likely to portrait the characters from external to internal, grope the inner world and analyze the mind. On the other hand, the internal tendency shows that they explore the human spiritual world at present. As the main part of literature, its position in the literary creation is getting more and more attention by litterateur and readers. Unavoidably, it formed a great contrast to past in literary creation. So, after the WWII, especially the 70s of the 20th century, the core of the Canada literature lies in people's own inner world. Furthermore, Canadian literature is deeply influenced by American and British traditional cultures. Writers are prone to observe people’s inner world. Because of the family background and her personal experience, Alice Munro chooses the female characters.

3. Self ─ redemption —Female Rebellion against Fate

There are three parts under this title, introducing female self-redemption ─ female rebellion against fate. It consists of the self-redemption from their families, self-redemption from humanity, and self-redemption from themselves.

3.1The Self-redemption from Their Families

First of all, let me talk about the first short story in Runaway , which we call Runaway . Carla, the heroine, when she was 18 years old, in order to get rid of parents“imprisoned”, she chose her boyfriend Clark decisively and eloped. In her family, her father was in a dominant position. She left a brief note when she ran away from her family, “I have always felt the need of a more authentic kind of life. I know I cannot expect you to understand this ”(Alice Munro, Runaway , 2004). To some extent, she intended to rebel against the patriarchal and free her heart in her inner world. Carla said no when Sylvia asked if she would get in touch with her parents after she was settled. As a result, Clark was her ideal choice at that time naturally. She proceeded without any hesitation. What she wanted to do was running away from her parents and her family. She was eager to live an ideal and free life that she has wondered. Clark was very smart but he hadn’t waited even to finish high school. He had altogether lost touch with his family. He thought families were like a poison in your blood. He holds the idea that people try every means to remove the poison in people’s blood, and escape from the bondage of family but they could do nothing. Runaway describes the family and the marriage life of common people in Canada, and the troubles and frustration that they have met. The characters in these short stories try

6 to discover the dilemma by the middle and lower classes in Canada. Carla was abused by her mother and stepfather when she was young. She dislikes them exceedingly so that she has the pressing hope to escape her family, so-called female self-redemption. There was an urgent hope to live without her families. When the opportunity occurs, she chose to elope with Clark without any hesitation. Then, she has no contact with her family. Her family only leaves her terrible and pressing memory so that she can’t put up with it any more.

There are 3 short stories about Juliet. She is a representative of intellectual women and she has got the master degree in classic literature.

In Chance , She met her husband by chance at the railway station, a fisherman in the country, named Eric. Then they got married and gave a birth to a daughter. And then Juliet was alienated from her parents and gradually relieved from the original control of her family. With the development of story, her mother was seriously ill. Juliet and her daughter went to see her mother. Juliet had no reaction to her words apparently, what her mother’s meaning was not begrudging her daughter but the days they spent together as a complete family. When she stayed with her parents for few days, she didn’t know what she was doing here. She thought she should never have come here, but she couldn’t wait to go home. Sara said: “What a useless piece of goods I am (Alice Munro, Runaway , 2004). And she thinks she will see Juliet when it gets really bad for her. But when Sara had said, soon I’ll see Juliet, Juliet had found no reply. The only thing she can do is to put everything away. She had gone back to the house of her childhood once more, for Sara’s funeral, some months after that letters was written by Sara. In fact, the letter had no particular importance in their lives.

In Silence , The ending of the novel is very ironic, that Juliet’s daughter ran away from Juliet as she reach maturity as well, just like she escaped from her own mother. Although Juliet loves her daughter Penelope very much just like her mother Sara loves her. However, she didn’t realize this until Sara’s death. I guess only when her daughter runaway from her can she understand her mother’s deep love to herself. Juliet experienced all this time without Penelope she had been in a sort of desert, and when Penelope’s message came she was like an old patch of cracked earth getting a full drink of rain. At the same time, Penelope cheated her. Dread pours through her. According to another person, she said :“There you are, with your wonderful busy successful life――but Juliet, I must tell you that your daughter has known loneliness. She has known unhappiness.”Even after Eric died, Penelope knew nothing of what was going on. Penelope received the news with an expression of fright, then――when Juliet rather formally put her arms around her――of something like embarrassment. After five years the birthday cards stopped coming. Penelope figures her mother has

7 got the message, she trusts Juliet not to send some tracker after her. That’s all. She has to wonder every day. And she has to be disappointed every day. Sarcastically, it seems like fate has invented. She keeps on hoping for a word from Penelope, but not in any strenuous way. She hopes as people who know better hope undeserved blessings, spontaneous remissions, things of that sort.

It is a thought-provoking ending. There is no end of tragedy and it is inheritable. No matter how hard-working women are, they still can’t get rid of the tragedy really. Tragedy is endless. In these stories, women are always looking forward to a good vision and are eager to fulfill their deepest desire and longings. They are full of passion. On the contrary, for the sake of the hurt and the influence of the family in their growth, their passion for life is indelible and their hearts are full of inconsistent thoughts. There is a great gap between beautiful vision and real life. They intend to run away, intend to achieve self-redemption, which is a kind of helplessness to life. They hate this kind of life but they can do nothing to change it. In contrast to the psychology of men, women have a strong sense of crisis and helplessness. These female figures spare no efforts to achieve self-redemption, but only to get the opposite of what ones want. Maybe it is the arrangement of fate. Their failure is predestined. Nobody has the strength to change it.

3.2The Self-redemption from Humanity

In Runaway , Carla is always looking forward to freedom and self ─ redemption. The self-redemption from humanity belongs to a kind of runaway which Alice Munro depicts emphatically. The heroine Carla ran away from her promiscuous parents bravely I mentioned above, and she lived with Clark. But there are many shortcomings of Clark. Clark has an aggressive personality and always conflict with others, which requires her to make amends to mediate with others. And Clark is a man incapable of making money. Moreover, bullying Carla is a common occurrence. Emotional abuse is a long-standing and growing problem in their marriage. It involves such things as verbal attacks, disregarding a partner’s views, or imposing economic controls on them. Carla is the victim of emotional abuse. Eventually, she ran away from Clark with the persuasion and help of their neighbor, Sylvia. She couldn't put up with the pitiful times without her husband, she chose to bow to fate (the inevitable) and come back to Clark’s side. She got a hold of her husband and implored his forgiveness (Alice Munro, Runaway , 2004). She was painfully anxious to come back home from the bottom of her heart. In her point of view, family can render her a sense of security and self-redemption. The cognition emerges with deep resignation. She is clear that however she rebels, she will reconcile to her fate after several hours of suffering. She has no strength to struggle and take the initiative to go back to that imprisoned cage.

8 Juliet, she has the look of an alert schoolgirl. Her father just wanted her to fit in life. She did neither willingly, or well. In fact, this ignored the fact that her father, and particularly Juliet’s mother, did not fit in so very well themselves, and were not miserable. Perhaps he doubted Juliet could be so lucky. All of Juliet’s enjoyable experience of men had been in fantasy. In actual life there had been humiliation and disappointment, which she had tried to push out of her mind as quickly as possible. When she knew her lover, Eric was very polygamous. After listening to this, she pretended to wander about making casual visits. Undoubtedly, she was paralyzed by disappointment, by shame. Even though, the fact was that she never intended to get on that bus to leave Eric. When she was going to meet him, it was like the moment at school before the winner of the prize was announced. However, she had no reasonable hope. And because there will never be another chance so momentous in her life. At last, she is immersed in his hug. She thinks how astonishing it is. How close to dismay. But she still can’t refuse. This is her fate.

Another short story is Passion . This story is a little ridiculous. It mainly tells the heroine, Grace, who was working at the hotel, had the intention to run away from her betrothed. Before the day of her engagement with her betrothed, Maury, she encountered Maury’s brother Neil and ran away with him for a whole afternoon. Maury fell in love with Grace the first time he saw her, because he had believed instantly in the integrity and uniqueness of her mind and soul, and had seen her poverty as a romantic gloss on that. It was that she would not stand for frivolity, was not content to be like most girls. She was really special. However, it was not in her nature, of course, to be so openly dumbfounded, so worshipful, as he was (Alice Munro, Runaway , 2004). In fact, it illuminates that they have great differences in nature. Furthermore, Grace has been an engaging talker and pays a little attention to anybody. She is actually thoughtful and lighthearted. Her memory of that afternoon remained clear and detailed, though there was a variation in the parts of it she dwelt on (Alice Munro, Runaway , 2004). She hardly ever thought about marrying Maury. How strange that she’d thought of marrying Maury. A kind of treachery it would be. She was clear that it is a treachery to her. She’d thought it was touch when she ran away with Neil. She calls it inflammation, as well passion and that is child’s play. Surprisingly, Neil died from car accident. She admitted to Maury that she did want to go. She accepted Maury’s father’s check because it was enough money to insure her new start in life. I have to say this is the charming of Alice Munro’s works. It is evoking and expressive. But actually, she didn’t add her personal appraise and only let readers pass judgment on the female characters. They try every means to run away, to achieve self-redemption, to find the reversion of humanity, without intention or deliberately.

10 quickly as possible. In Soon , Juliet and her mother Sara didn’t like her father’s outdoor work. If there was a side to be on, however, she would have to choose his. She was not going to define herself as a snob. As far as she was concerned, she saw herself, particularly herself and Sam, as superior in their own way to everybody around them. In addition, she was not married. It is the fact of her unmarried state that gives her some flush of accomplishment, a silly surge of bliss. She firmly believes that she is unique and totally different from others. Next I will talk about Juliet’s belief. In Silence , silence not only refers to the silence of females but also the shattered dream in the harsh reality, and even the decline of self-awareness. There is no grief in their expression, only deep resignation. She intends to bring her daughter up without religion. She and Eric don’t believe in God’s grace. It’s not like denying her nourishment, it’s refusing to bring her up on lies (Alice Munro, Runaway , 2004). So here comes Silence. Penelope leaves her mother decisively. Juliet run away from her parents. Now, her daughter ran away from her. To be honest, it is really miserable that mother and daughter are alienated from each other like them. And bright Juliet has noticed it but she refuses to accept, but at last she admits it and accepts it peacefully, because she has a clear understanding about Penelope’s idea just like her. What can she do is to keep on hoping for a word from Penelope, but not in any strenuous way. Nevertheless, we are clear that there exists a little possibility between them to have a talk.

In Passion , we are clear about the personality of Grace, a little conceited and over self-confident. She focuses on herself for most of time. Even she doesn’t pay much attention to her betrothed. She considers that Neil knows her much more than Maury. They have a tacit and mutual understanding. Based on some common ground, they ran away for a whole afternoon.

4. Conclusion

In Runaway , almost all of the female characters have experienced self-redemption. They are unsatisfied with their family, humanity or even themselves. In a consequence, they intend to try every means to make a change but ends in vain. However, they are prone to adopt the same way――runaway in order to fulfill their self-redemption. It is likely that they don’t know what are they really expecting, and they just don’t want to live in this lifestyle. They don’t want to endure anymore. As we all know, they have put up with much pressure. Now, it is time, a time of renewal. This time, they are brave, unshakable and steadfast. We all hold the idea that this decision can reap tremendous benefits to their heart that aspire to freedom. But fate is fate. After all, they failed. Their dreams always seem to evaporate, and nothing ever quite matches expectations. Self-redemption in fact brings fear and vulnerability to them. It is the essence and charm of Alice Munro’s works. The heroines in Alice

11 Munro’s writings, run away again and again, consciously or unconsciously, as a matter of fact, is not to search, but to regress. They are anxious for regressing to humanity, to be themselves. Very often, readers are conscious of the mercilessness of life and are on the side with characters in the short stories, and surrender to the secular life. The emotion between readers and characters achieve intercommunication and interaction at the spiritual level, which is the soul of Alice Munro’s works, emotional resonance. There can be little doubt that the reality is far more horrible, abnormal and wonderful than novels.

There is a kind of strength to shock our minds and speculation after the recreation of incidents happened in life according to the language of novel and the structure of stories by a mature author. The work has a primitive strength and haunting simplicity. And she leads us to original land to feel, experience the relationship between oneself and the outside world. These short stories in Runaway vividly show the predicament and struggle of inward world, runaway and regression after numerous hesitations. Accordingly, it brings insight into the endurance and toughness by female kindhearted and sensitive nature. Alice Munro is returning to the traditional causality in personalities and destiny. Regress to tradition, regress to in-depth aspiration of humanity, regress to the significance love, which should be the ultimate goals of all human beings.

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Acknowledgments

First and foremost, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to my supervisor, Xu Shaoxian, who offers me instructive and useful suggestions on my thesis all the time. I am deeply grateful of his help in the completion of this thesis. Without his illuminating and consistent instruction, constant encouragement and guidance, impressive kindness, I could not have completed my thesis. His keen and vigorous academic observation enlightens me not only in this thesis but also in my future study. I would also like to thank all my teachers who have helped me to develop the fundamental and essential academic competence. My sincere appreciation also goes to the students who participated in this study with great cooperation.

At last, I would like to thank my family for their support all the way from the beginning of my college study. I am thankful to all my family members for their thoughtfulness and encouragement.

Li Ning