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Vandals

Well, that was scandalous. And uncomfortable. In reading “Vandals” I came to understand a few things. 1. There is a lot of death in this story. 2. There is a hint of pedophilia in this story. 3. There’s a case of breaking, entering, and vandalizing in this story. After realizing these things, I began to wonder, “Why?”

Within this collection of stories by Munro, we’ve read stories that were uncomfortable before. There’s been sex, death, gore. You name it, she wrote about it. Perhaps because she’s a seasoned writer and at some point in time these areas become interesting. Or, perhaps, it’s because she has the writing ability to hint at something without saying it outright. On other occasions Munro has written in a way that let the reader know exactly what was going on without explicitly saying that the man in the seat next to Rose on the train sexually assaults (even, possibly, rapes) her in “Wild Swans.”

In “Vandals” there is a scene at the waters edge that takes place in the past when Bea and Liza were younger. Though the scene doesn’t specifically mention sex, there’s an undercurrent of discomfort while Ladner watches the young girls swim. “He made a pretend grab at her, to get her between the legs … He was quite ordinary again, a serious work-man, slightly fed up with all their foolishness.” There isn’t much detail, but in the pages following Liza remembers a Barbie-doll dress and a prize she won in the second grade. Knowing the age of Liza puts an emphasis on the inappropriateness of Ladner’s touch. The details are small and infrequent but the reader begins to question the frequency of this kind of event, and in turn, understand why Liza vandalizes the house.

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