An Opposite to Country Simpleton in Munro’s “How I Met Husband My Husband”
As a fiction writer and Nobel Prize Winner, Alice Munro’s stories and her writing often elicit sympathetic responses from readers due to her reflection on humanity and interpersonal relationships in everyday life. Published in 1974, “How I Met Husband My Husband” justifies Munro’s large capacity for revealing human conditions and their emotions playing a bigger role in life (Deepika Pant, 2015). The short story follows a young girl, Edie’s challenges made up of early crush, misunderstandings, and struggle in relationship as she steps toward adulthood. From the beginning when she was fifteen, to the end of the story where she is a mature married woman, Edie’s character embodies wisdom and independent personality facing complex problems and multiple life choices. Rather than being an ignorant hired girl and country simpleton, Edie, through her decision of marrying the mailman, the way of handling her relation with Chris, and behavior in front of the Peebles, manifests the truth of a girl who remains true to herself and has an accurate perception of her environment.美国网课代上
Edie’s result of spending life together with the mailman provides an explanation for the character’s claim that she wants people to gain pleasure and happiness, which includes herself. As the story’s protagonist and narrator of the story, Edie’s manner of treating people with candidness can be easily identified in her attitude towards the mailman before they start to date. When the young girl decides not to wait anymore for the promised letter from Chris, she admits that she kept smiling because she knew “the mailman was counting on it, and he didn’t have an easy life (Alice Munro, p.146).” The expression shows her understanding, making clear the fact that she learns from the world through wholeheartedly connecting with people she meets. Another visible example is Edie’s narration that she did marry the mailman after they “went out with him for two years” and “were engaged a year more (Munro, p.146). Facing the important life decision, her commitment to the mailman, who eventually becomes her marriage partner and the father of their children, illustrates an honest life that she leads.
Despite that she is a young girl, Edie’s perception of what happened between her and Chris indicates her mental maturity and ability to separate her opinion from other people’s attitude. Under the situation of prejudices primarily held by Alice Kelling and Lorreta Bird, both of whom regard Edie as being used by Chris like an object in the tent, the protagonist announces a different understanding of what “intimate” means. According to her, their kissing and affection for each other is the perfect proof for intimacy, something she would never deny (Munro, p.145). As one part of sarcasm, Munro, by comparing Kelling and Lorreta’s shallow ideas with Edie’s faith in the human trust and love, which are seen as noble and out of serious intent, aims to criticize the twisted values in society. Further, the narrator’s confesses that she was not the kind of woman waiting through her life by mailboxes (Munro, p.146). It deepens an image of a wise girl who takes life seriously and determines to be her own master.
Edie’s cautious style in the Peebles family is one necessary tool for dutifully playing her role as a helper. At an age of fifteen, the young girl works away from her home and is already an expert at mastering the rules for doing her work. To prevent her employer from finding out she hides doughnuts, Edie shares them with the children as one way to “bind them to secrecy (Munro, p.132).” By withholding the information, the protagonist avoids the trouble of being discovered she eats more than what’s being served, which indicates her careful behavior in their house and her full awareness about social class. Her utterance that the family wants someone who doesn’t notice things, but only focuses on what they need, serves as another evident instance (Munro, p.135). Her knowledge of what requires to be a qualified domestic helper, combined with her efforts to meet that standard through the story, manifests her sense of responsibility and ability to handle situations.
Different from the comment labeling Edie as either ignorant or stupid, the main character’s responses to people reflect her means of survival under a strict society. Just like other characters in many of Munro’s stories, Edie’s act exemplifies a condition of being powerless in terms of obtaining what she desires or opening up to others about her purpose and pursuits. The young girl’s silence about things, for example, giving no words of defense hearing Alice Kelling’s insulting remark of “filthy little rags (Munro, p.144)”, explains her method of self-protection over her beliefs and values, which is an opposite of stupidity. As Munro herself observed, people who are good at reading the environment and minding their words and actions wouldn’t even call themselves as manipulative or secretive (Lisa Dickler Awano, 2006). Rather, it is one way of behaving confronting contradicting ideas and a prejudiced society.
As a 1974 short story, “How I Met Husband My Husband” exhibits Munro’s unique ability to uncover the emotional depth and set forth themes crucial to human existence. By depicting a young hired girl’s peril shaped by gossip, biased opinions, and pains of transitioning into womanhood, Munro challenges the meaning of “simpleton” held by many people. Edie’s decision of marrying the mailman, her perspective about the implication of intimacy and love, as well as her mindfulness at her employer’s house, are illustrations of a mature and sensible attitude in leading her life. These aspects succeed in making clear Munro’s use of irony, through which the Canadian writer elaborates on the pathetic lifestyle embodied by prejudiced characters who do harms to others. Instead of being ignorant or manipulative, the protagonist displays independence in perceiving the world and honesty about her pursuits as she distinguishes rights from wrongs.