Short Stories - "Spelling" and "Differently": Female


Relationships


The analysis of the two short stories "Spelling" and "Differently"
written by Alice Munro deal with female relationships. These
relationships paint a vivid picture of the kinship, deception,
challenges, and associations that affect friends and family as
they journey through life.

"Spelling" is about the relationship of two women, Rose and Flo.
Although from the outset the relationship between Rose and Flo is
not clear, near the end the reader has no doubt they are mother
and daughter. Munro illustrates the awkward relationship between
a parent and a child and the sometimes difficult problems that
face children as their parents age. After visiting the county
home in an attempt to find a place for Flo to live, "Rose spoke
of the view and the pleasant rooms. Flo looked angry; her face
darkened and she stuck out her lip. Rose handed her a mobile she
had bought for 50 cents in the County Home crafts centre.... Stick
it up your arse, said Flo" (Oates 151). The reader sees no
affection between the two. In fact, the tone of the story
illustrates a lack of acceptance and even disappointment by Flo
and shows that there has always been a distance between the two.

The title is derived from a patient Rose met at the nursing home
whose only communication was spelling words. After meeting this
patient, Rose dreamed that Flo was in a cage and spelling words
like the old patient she met in the nursing home. Rose tells Flo
about her visit to the nursing home and is obviously trying to
influence Flo into going to the home. Flo is suffering from some
sort of dementia, perhaps Alzheimer\'s. In this story the author
doesn\'t tell the characters ages, Rose\'s occupation, and other
information necessary to develop a clear picture. Instead, Munro
makes the reader use more of ones imagination in developing the
story. Although Munro is not explicit, the story is about an
unhappy relationship between a daughter and mother.

In the story the narrator flashes back to a time in Rose\'s career
when she was in a play with her breast exposed. Flo showed her
displeasure by writing her a letter that said "shame" and adding
that if her father was not already dead, he would wish that he was
(Oates 154). Yet, the reader feels that Rose is still trying to
earn her mother\'s respect and love. Another time, Rose invites
her mother to an event where she is to accept an award for her
work. Flo attends this function, although her behavior is
outrageous and it appears that she is already suffering from some
mental disorder. Because of her mother\'s dementia, Rose must
realize that she will never feel the love or affection of her
mother. In the end, Flo agrees to go to the nursing home. It is
not until Flo is in the nursing home that you see a humorous
woman, perhaps what she was in her earlier years.

When Rose brings a wig that Flo used to wear, Flo makes a joke
about it looking like a dead squirrel. They laugh about it and at
this point you feel more of a connection between the two women
than at any point in the story.

An analysis of Munro\'s work by E.D. Blodgett tells the reader that
"Her most recent work has addressed the problems of middle age, of
women alone and the elderly. Characteristic of her style is the
search for some revelatory gesture by which an event is
illuminated and given personal significance" (Blodgett 1). In
"Spelling," Munro demonstrates this revelatory gesture by the
incident with the wig. Near the end of the story it is revealed
that Flo has a humorous personality. Her dementia appears to
leave and she is clear-headed.

The irony of the story is that although Flo, who has had no
relationship with her daughter Rose for most of her adult life,
now needs assistance or nursing care and finds that Rose is the
one who is at her side through this transition period.

In the second short story "Differently" Munro is also talking
about the relationship of two women, Georgia and Maya. Munro
points out that these women become friends on more than one level,
sharing stories, secrets, and special times together. The mood of
the story changes abruptly with the introduction of an illicit
love affair and the betrayal of a friend.

"Differently" is an interesting story filled with descriptions
that fill the reader\'s mind with clear and brilliant pictures of
the people, places and locations throughout the story. For
example, when Munro describes Raymond, Maya\'s husband, the image
becomes as