“A Badly Brought Up Member of the Family“

Early Adolescence and/as Narrative Rupture in Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women

in Girlhood Studies
Author: Katherine Bell
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When we are growing up, how might the narrative practices of our family members shape our understanding of the world we are coming to know? How might narrative desires and allegiances to formal storytelling conventions affect how individuals are represented and positioned within family discourse? In this paper, I analyze the narrative practices of characters in Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women (1971); specifically, I turn to Del Jordan's first encounter with a family member's death and to her tentative understanding of the body's aberrations and complexities, which bumps up against, competes with, and is ultimately overwhelmed by, the narrative practices of the adults in her life. When considered in relation to the bourgeoning field of narrative ethics, Lives of Girls and Women provides a compelling avenue for a rich understanding of how narrative privilege can have an impact on adult-youth relations in general, and the female coming-of-age experience in particular.

Girlhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal