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Additional info for Alice Munro (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
In contrast to her initial arrival, we now experience it as a genuine coming home. As the sisters share the chores of food preparation, 24 Magdalene Redekop we also feel the stress taken off any one female figure since both are involved in that act of mutual mothering which characterizes sisterhood at its most comforting. . ” asks Maddy and Helen replies with an echo: “They look all right” (DHS, 210). They are in harmony in their actions, in what is understood between them, but their conversations are elliptical and ambiguous.
It may be because the phrase “your mother” is a reproduction that it is felt by Helen as a “cunning blow” to her pride: “at those words I felt my whole identity, that pretentious adolescent construction, come crumbling down” (DHS, 194). ” She too is a “construction” and the daughters’ mimicry is based on that fact. Like many of the women in Munro’s later stories, she is a joke. “Wild caricatures we did for each other (no, not caricatures, for she was one herself; imitations)” (DHS, 195). The trouble is that their imitations are internalizations of collective perceptions.
It is only when Maddy drops the bowl and it falls as if in dreamlike slow motion, that we notice it. It is “quite a heavy and elaborate old bowl” (DHS, 210). As Maddy picks up the “pieces of broken pink glass” we are dimly aware of the muffled violence in the word “cut-glass” and perhaps even in the colour pink, which could be watered down blood. Like a bowl in a painting by Mary Pratt, this one seems to be surrounded by a magical rim that lifts it out of ordinary reality even as it is in the act of shattering.