Summary: Dance of the Happy Shades
Point of view Told in the first person from the point of view of an adult woman recounting a significant formative experience from her childhood. Setting Walker Brothers Cowboy’ begins by describing a setting we’ll come to again and again in Alice Munroe: rural Ontario, close to the Great Lakes in the late 1 a decade when that country was suffering the Great Depression. Much of the story, however, is set in the backcountry surrounding the fictional town of Outperform. Main Characters The Narrator The narrator is a girl who lives with her father, mother, and younger brother.
She is mature beyond her years. She is responsible and attuned to What goes on around her. She notices the subtlety in words and uses this to understand he adults around her. The narrator has a close and trusting relationship with her father. She learns from her father even though she knows he has failed the family in significant ways, particularly economically. By contrast, she has a much more difficult relationship with her mother. She sees through her mothers pretensions and is embarrassed by them. The narrator is unable to respect her mother.
She continually resists her mother’s efforts to form an alliance, always siding with her father and his values. The Father/en Jordan Has a friendly and seemingly positive outlook, despite his recent financial airdrops. His tenaciousness is shown by his holding onto the family tax tram until he was forced out, Now, he uses that same quality to try and make the best of his new job as a “peddler. ” He makes up songs and exaggerates what happens on his job to make his family laugh But his visit to Nora demonstrates that he, like his wife, feels drawn to the past Nora Crooning Nora is an old girlfriend of the narrator’s father.
She lives vivid her old, blind mother in a farmhouse. She has never married, which makes her bitter. But she puts on a positive show, chatting happily and dancing With her visitors. Nora is new to the narrator; for one thing, she is Catholic. But she is drawn to her, despite a finding her rough (egg her profuse sweating, fleshy bosom, and the dark hairs above her lip). Nora Carrion’s Mother Blind. A marker for history, With her own faulty memory and perceptions, her tendency to float in and out of the present. The Mother/Mrs.. Jordan The mother is unhappy with the present status of her family.
She criticizes her husband’s job, refuses to allow her children to play with the neighbors’ children, and overall finds nothing positive in their present life. She lives in the past, monody recalling prior days of greater wealth, and she tries to draw her daughter into these fantasies. The mother also resists any attempts at enjoying her new life, such as when her husband tells funny stories about his sales calls, – but occasionally even she can’t help but laugh. Plot Summary The narrator begins by describing a walk she takes with her father to the banks of Lake Huron.
They walk through town, passing children whom she does not know, They pass a deserted factory and junkyards, They enter a vacant lot that serves as a park where they sit and look at the water. Farther down, the narrator sees the part of the lake they used to visit before the family moved By the docks, instead of people dressed in their Sunday best, they meet tramps, for ovum her father rolls a cigarette. Her father tells her how the Great Lakes were formed, after the ice from the Ice Age retreated. The girl finds it impossible to imagine when this time existed-?when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
She reflects on how short a period of time an individual inhabits the earth. The story changes scene, and the narrator talks about her father’s job as a salesman for Walker Brothers. He goes from door to door, selling shampoos, medicines, teas, and poison. In Dungeon, the family had a fox farer, but they went bankrupt and were forced to move to Outperform, where her father found this job. The girl’s mother is clearly unhappy with their new poverty, and more so, with their fall from the dignity of owning a business to their status as the family of a “peddler. Usually on summer afternoons, the girl’s mother dresses her daughter and herself up for a trip to the grocery. Today, however, her father invites her mother to drive with him; she has a headache, and he thinks the fresh air might do her good. The mother explains that going with him on his sales calls is not what she had in mind. The father ends up taking the girl and her younger brother. He tries to convince the mother to come, hut she won’t. Driving to the backcountry, they sing songs that the father makes up. The father stops at farmhouses along his route while the children stay in the car.
He drives farther and farther away until they are no longer in his territory. Eventually, he pulls into a lane where a woman is picking up washing from the grass. He gets out of the car and announces himself as the Walker Brothers man. When the woman looks up, it is clear she recognizes him. He introduces her to the children as Nora Crooning, She brings them into the house where they meet her old, blind mother, with whom she lives. The old woman recognizes the father by his voice and says it has been a long time since they saw him.
Nora goes upstairs to change clothes, and when she returns, she is dressed up and is more sociable. She makes drinks for the children. The former friends catch each other up to date on their lives. The father says he has only been working for Walker Brothers for a few months, and she ells him about her two sisters, whom he remembers from when he was younger and used to come visit Nora. Eventually, Norm’s mother falls asleep, and they move to the front room even though the father suggests that the children go and play outside.
In the front room, the girl realizes that Nora is Catholic, and she has never been in a Catholic person’s house. She remembers that her grandmother and aunt always say of the Catholics,fey’ dig with the wrong foot. ” Nora pours herself and the father a whisky, which the girl is surprised to see him drink, The father tells stories about his sales travels, at which Nora laughs heartily. Then he sings his made-up songs. Nora puts on a record, and she and the girl dance, but when the father refuses to dance with her, Nora takes the record off.
Nora invites them for supper, but he says they can’t stay, the children’s mother will worry, Nora invites him to visit again and to bring his wife. Then the father tells Nora where they live, but Nora doesn’t repeat the directions, On the way home, the girl knows, without being told, not to mention the whisky or the dancing to her mother. Her brother wants the father to sing, but he won’t, They drive back in the darkening afternoon, in silence. Themes Pope arty Canada in the sass was feeling the drastic effects of the Great Depression.
The narrator makes reference to a time when her father owned his own business, a silver fox farm. They went bankrupt, the father became a peddler and the family now lives in a poor neighborhood. Mrs.. Cordon’s pride, as well as her anger, at the families new station in life is evident. She deeply resents having “come down in the world. ” She dislikes their neighborhood, which is filled with other poor people. She Will not even let her daughter play with the children in the neighborhood. The father is a man who does his best to keep up the spirits of his family, despite their hardships.
The narrator accurately portrays her mother as a woman whose pride undermines the unity of the family, and her father as a man who tries his best to maintain the family optimism. When the children and their father drive through the back country, the girl witnesses a more desolate kind of poverty than that of her own family. The roads aren’t paved, the farmhouses are unpainted, the cars are old Despite the physical poverty of this “flat, scorched, empty’ land, the visit to Norm’s farm reveals that there exists spiritual iciness despite material poverty.
Nora may be dressed in a dirty smock-?unlike the narrator’s mother, who dresses in her best-?but she knows how to make something of what life offers her, even if it is only a brief visit from a former b boyfriend_ Memory and the Past Memory and the past are central themes in this story. The narrator introduces these themes in the opening section, Which does not take place on the same day as the rest of the story. In this section, the narrator contemplates the timelessness Of Lake Huron, Which is near their home. She has a hard time managing bygone times in the area and realizes what a short space in history each individual occupies.
Memory and the past also figure throughout the main story. The mothers inability to reconcile herself to the present is due to her idealization of the past. She tries to recreate their life in Dungeon, going back many years to the “leisurely days before my brother was born. ” She is not able to keep from mentioning those days. The narrator pretends to remember far less than she actually does, В»,ray of being trapped into sympathy or any unwanted unlike her mother, she is doing her best to adapt to their new taxation. The scene at Norm’s farmhouse also relies on the power of memory.
Nora instantly recognizes the tatter, as does Norm’s mother, who recognizes him solely by his voice, Further, Norm’s reception of Ben Jordan is influenced by her recollection of the romance they once shared. From time to time, her voice betrays her bitterness and anger, though whether this stems from not marrying Ben Jordan or not marrying at all is unclear. Despite being so different all the three adult characters share a regard for the past. In mother’s case, the past is all-consuming and her longing for it prevents her from deriving any leisure in the present gather is drawn to the past as evidenced by his visit to Norm’s home.
He enjoys the freedom that comes with being in her company, the whisky drinking, the unsuppressed enjoyment in his sales stories. However, he recognizes that he cannot mix his past with his present; thus, he refuses Norm’s suggestion to dance and says they must return home. Throughout the afternoon, Nora shows both anger and enjoyment in seeing Ben again, but ultimately has no choice but to recognize that it is just an afternoon’s diversion, however sincere, and that Ben will take his children and she will be alone again.