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imagesAlice Munro’s choice of  narrating her short story”Labor Day Dinner” in the third person omniscent enabled her clear character development for each of the many characters portrayed in the story. Through this choice of narration, Munro was able to take the reader through the story with the advantage of being able to shift viewpoints through the eyes of the different characters. By this style, the reader was able to identify the many opinions about Roberta and her boyfriend, George. Roberta’s opinions of herself are feelings of inadequacy and self-consciousness; she truly is her own worst enemy. Throughout the story she expresses and represents herself as this catering, sad, controlled, and weak woman toward her boyfriend. She is depicted like this not just from her own opinions of herself, but also by the narration shifts that focus on George and her two daughters.

The way in which Roberta and George’s relationship is told in this story is to me juvenile and petty. They are both so disconnected with one another that they appear to the reader as two people who hate one another. In the focal narration of Roberta, she speaks of the cold ways in which George and her interact with one another on a daily basis.

He can spot an imitation; he can always withstand tactics. She has to go all the way, to where she doesn’t care. When he feels how light and distant she is and his love revives. She has power. But the minute she begins to value it, it will begin to leave her. So she is thinking, as she yawns and wavers on the edge of caring and not caring. She’d stay on the edge if she could. (305)

The way that the two of them interact reminds me of a bunch of petulant teenagers playing mind games with one another. Neither of them are kind or true to each other, nor is there any clear recognition of their respect towards one another. I think the the most adult and mature characters in this story are Roberta’s two daughters, Angela and Eva. Both of their reflections show their maturity because of their understanding of how outrageous their parental figures act. They recognize how abnormal and how much change has occurred in their mothers personality and views on life since being with George. George and Roberta are both terrible role models for these girls, and the fact that these girls recognize how inappropriate their behavior towards one another is and they don’t see it within themselves, truly identifies with how disconnected these two are with reality.

One Response to ““Labor Day Dinner”, Alice Munro”

  1. tleech12 says:

    Sloane, Well said! I, too, particularly enjoyed the section you quoted about “her power.” I think that, unfortunately, it very true in many relationships that I have witnessed over the years. The human “dance” between men and women is truly fascinating to watch.