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Essay promt:

Explore in at least two of the Munro stores we have studied, the effects of telling a
story in a non-chronological manner.
Alice Munro is a well-known Canadian short-story writer that talks about intricate
relationships between men and women. She discusses themes such as small town
existence, fear of the unknown and the perplexity of human nature. Munro is known
to be a master of contemporary short stories and tilts into time frames in order to
create an intensely moving character. As we have seen in two of short stories: Red
Dress (1946) and Childs Play she uses both a chronological and a non chronological
time frame in order to build a story and character. In this essay I will compare both
stories and the effect that the difference in the time frame has as both stories
progresses, particularly focusing on the narrator, the use of prolepsis and analepsis,
and foreshadowing in order to increase this effect.
Red Dress talks about a young girls insecurity about herself and role as a young girl
in society, while centering herself in a main event: the Christmas school dance. Child
Play deals with two characters: Charlene and Marlene aged 7 and 8 who secretly
mistreat another girl named Verna simply for being different. This ends with death
as well as quite a morbid definition of what it means to represent the children
playacting. Red Dress takes place in a lineal fashion whilst the other steps back in
time and switches from past to present in a non- lineal way.
Childs Play begins with the presence of dialogue, a conversation that we will only
understand at the end of the narration. Once again we see how Munro plays with
time in order to create a greater effect once she has unraveled all the situations at
the end of the story, as opposed to Red Dress that starts off with a simple yet
meaningful phrase: My mother was making me a dress. This is the beginning of
the story while she focuses on the importance of the dress.
At the same time if we look really closely we could also say both starters are packed
with meaning since the first story is the confession the main character gives her
parents about the murder of Verna, a child with learning disabilities, and in the Red
Dress, although to a certain extent the tension varies in that of an extremity level
dealing with death the Red Dress which contains a different type of tension, there is
symbolism behind the dress, as a representation of growing up and immediately
having to have a planted idea of what society considers as presentable, or nice. In
both stories there is the presence of morality that is being imposed in them by
society and how this shapes what they feel and consider as correct. This will later
affect how the play progresses. Both stories also deal with a protagonist female
narrator who will be the only narrator until the end of the story.
Another difference related to the non-chronological time frame is the presence of
change within the characters. In the Red Dress perhaps 20 years go by and the

female characters has grown into an independent woman. For example in pg 80:
Now I was a graduate student from anthropology this gives Marlenes character
the certainty of time as she becomes wiser, grasping concepts and having her own
perspective. She now understands why the things with Verna happened and why
she would act the way she did as a child. Or at least thats what she wants us to
think. She even describes how she later on wrote a thesis that specialized in how
society sees people with disabilities, the book was entitled Imbeciles and Idols. This
comprehension is seen in the first couple of pages of the descriptions of her
childhood. Children used that word hate to mean various things. It may mean that
they are frightened this is an example of her justifying her previous behavior, now
as an older wiser woman. At the same time she waits until the very end to reveal
what really happened to Verna. This is order to increase the tension throughout the
story until the end. As opposed to the girl in the Red Dress, who remains nameless to
our eyes, who although in the first page says: Now, grown wiser, I wished for dresses
those like my friend Lonnie had, bought at Beales store the change within the
character is not so evident basing ourselves in the ending of the story and the lack of
perspective within the character. Although she is also using past tense verbs to
describe a situation that took place in the past, it is a recent past, we are not sure
how long it has happened since the dance, it could be days, years, we are uncertain.
In both cases Munroe uses prolepsis and analysis to create a deeper insight of the
character and their surroundings. I may have approved of Charlene but I was not
sure how to make friends with her Here Marlene is making a reference to the past,
and now to the present. Another example is : By chance, years later I saw her
wedding pictures were still published in newspapers We had been walking
around perhaps at the same time and on the same streets or paths on the campus.
And never met (pg 80) The use of flashbacks are meant to increase the tension as
the characters had the possibility of running into each other, but didnt. It also
highlights how time has gone by. In the Red Dress the use of flashback is also used,
although not as common as in Childs Play and it is meant to cause the same effect, for
example: I hated English because the boys played bingo at the back of the room
while the teacher, a stout, gentle girl, slightly cross-eyed, read Wordsworth at the
front. This is meant to increase the tension as well and to also open our perspective
into the characters thoughts and feelings, yet the lack of prolepsis also reveals the
false tension outside of the linear time frame that is already established. Because in
the Red Dress the narrator Marlene tilts from back to present without making an
apparent connection, this increases the tension up to the last part of the story where
she confesses Vernas not so accidental death, making the confusion disappear at
last. The ending in the Red Dress is rather expected, and the confrontation with
Mary Fortune character actually breaks with the monotony of the story which
Munro is trying to achieve by using a lineal time frame as well.

In conclusion, both stories are seen through a female narrative perspective who is
referring to a situation in the past, yet one retells the story in a lineal fashion while
(Childs Play) does not. This is meant to increase the tension towards the end of the
story, while the use of flash-forward and flashback is meant to increase this effect,
giving us a bigger insight on why certain actions or things took place for the
character. Both characters have the presence of change as they are talking about
something that occurred in the past, and consider themselves wiser now yet we
truly see more change (through the use of different devices previously mentioned,
in Marlenes character than in the girl from the Red Dress.

Word count: 1321