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“An Ounce of Cure” by Alice Munro

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    The story “An Ounce of Cure” by Alice Munro is a story portraying the life of a teenage girl. The story unfolds events that will eventually present the decisions a typical teenager will make and the consequences to their actions. The story presents the main character of the story as a typical teenage girl who falls in love, and eventually gets her heart broken and devastated.

    As a result, her devastation leads her to making a horrible decision and has to face the consequences of her actions.The short story An Ounce of Cure is about a young woman who lives in a small town in the 60?s where apparently the only thing to do to pass the time is gossip. The story starts off pretty normal with the narrator going to school and earning money by babysitting around town. At this point she has a reputation as the responsible babysitter.

    After dating a boy from school for two weeks he breaks up with her and she spirals out of control. She starts with contemplating suicide more and more often and eventually tries a couple of times.After some failed attempts at suicide she decides to help herself to some of her client’s booze while babysitting their children. When the Berrymans arrive home to find their babysitter drunk and alone with their kids, needless to say she was fired and lost most of her clients.

    After that she was known all over town as the suicidal alcoholic ex-babysitter. I found it interesting that author Alice Munro made the narrator an adult looking back on how her life was as a teenager. Because the story is narrated in a past tense I did not feel as much of a connection with narrator as I would have if she was a teenager.Munro most likely made the narrator an adult to give her some credibility throughout the story.

    If she had been a teenager you might not believe most of what she said during the story because most people think teenagers are liars or exaggerate the tiniest detail. I also thought it was interesting how fast the author escalated the situation from a breakup to contemplating suicide to drinking on the job. Maybe Munro was trying to illustrate to others that no matter how bad things get they could be worse. Chances are your situation will never be bad enough to want to kill yourself or drown yourself in someone lses alcohol while babysitting their children.

    I think that if the narrator had been a teenage girl discussing a situation that happened pretty recently, the story would be boring and readers would have less to think about and interpret on. Summary #3 “An Ounce of Cure” is a story about a young girls first love. The narrator falls in love with a boy named Martin Collingwood who breaks up with her for another girl. The narrator obsess’ over the boy and makes the mistake of getting drunk while babysitting one night.

    She gets caught by the parents who take her home to tell her parents.Surprisingly after this incident, she is over her obsession with Martin. She goes on with her life and years later as an adult sees Martin and in her mind laughs over her stupidity. Summary #4 The narrator begins the story by talking about how her parents don’t drink, but that occasionally her dad would have a beer outside of the house.

    She speaks about her adolescent infatuation with Martin Collingwood. After they broke up she becomes depressed and melodramatic about the situation. One night she goes to babysit for the Berryman’s and decides to have a drink of their liquor. She ends up getting drunk and calling her friends to help her.

    They come over and the Berryman’s come home early to find her drunk and in her slip since her clothes were covered in vomit and her friends dancing and socializing in their house. Mr. Barryman takes her home and she tells her mother what happened. From there on out her social life was essentially dead.

    At the end of the story she is a grown, married, mother of two children for several years now and sees Martin at a funeral. She has no desire to be in his life anymore. Summary #5 In the story “An Ounce of Cure” By Alice Munro, the narrator is unnamed and speaks in first person.The story follows the life of a teenage girl going through a “mid-life” teenage crisis.

    The setting is a very conservative southern town in the 1960’s, where it is considered taboo to consume alcohol. Almost nobody consumed alcohol in the teen’s town. The narrator signed an abstinence pledge in the seventh grade. As for her parents, her father would drink a beer on a hot day, which he consumed out of sight.

    Her mother never drinks alcohol. Her mother wanted her daughter to remain innocent and believes the outside world is dangerous. The narrator is a responsible young lady who likes to gossip.She earns money by babysitting around town and is labeled as “the responsible babysitter”.

    She is like most other teenage girl in her town. Then, the narrator meets a boy named Martin Collingwood at a drama club sponsored by her school. Martin was her Prince Charming, and she falls in love with the young man. She receives a memorable first kiss, and she does not wash her face for days after the joyful incident.

    Unfortunately, two months later Martin dumps her for another girl in drama club. The girl is left with an emotional bruise on her heart. She started weeps for Martin, spending hours thinking about the boy.She then re-enacts in her head over and over again.

    She then becomes severely depressed. One night she plans to swallow all the aspirin in the bathroom cabinet, but stops at the sixth pill. Each pill represents each stage in her life: sorrow, anguish, depression, heartbreak, confusion and frustration. Her mother notices that something is wrong with her daughter.

    She asks if everything was going all right at school and her daughter She says “Martin and I had broken up and all”. Her mother tells her the break up is for the best. The narrator has to babysit for the Berrymans one Saturday. While there, looks for a can of soda in the kitchen.

    She spots a half ounce of alcohol that she described as a “half ounce of gold”. To her, the alcohol is like finding hidden treasure . It symbolizes breaking away from the norm, and easing her heartbreak. She then becomes drunk.

    Even though her actions based upon human curiosity, however the result of it was reckless. The Berrymans find her drunk and she fired on the spot and has a reputation now of an “irresponsible baby sitter” who is also suicidal and drunk. Kay, who is a mutual friend, hands her a cup of coffee, which symbolizes being awake, a new beginning, and a fresh start in the morning.She then realizes that what she has done in the past few days has been a mistake.

    Many teenagers today tend to exaggerate their tragedies; making a mountain out of a molehill. She felt it was childish to even think about taking her own life over a silly boy. The theme of this story is self acceptance. Even though we have problems in the present, we must move on with our lives, and make good choices for the future.

    Another conflict in this story is “Man vs. Society. ” The setting of the town is very conservative and judgmental. The narrator is battling against society because of the idealized reputation that the town had given her.

    The narrator is dynamic; she changed dramatically from the beginning to the end. She went from being a naive teenage girl to a mature young lady who took responsibility for her actions. The narrator does get updates on Martin, but she does not meet him face to face. She is not bothered by him anymore.

    She grows up, physically and emotionally. Many of us can relate to this particular story because we all have experienced a situation where, at the moment, we can only look at the problem from one angle. When we look at problems from a bigger picture, a broader perspective; realize that problems are only temporary.We also hear the phrase “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

    ” The narrator’s problem was temporary; it could be solved, and it has been solved. The narrator learned from her mistake and now has a brighter future. II. Theme: Growing up In the story “An Ounce of Cure,” the author Alice Munro vividly explores the theme growing up in the story.

    The main character is presented as being naive and overly dramatic. Many statements made in the beginning of the story by the teenage girl’s mother express the depth of her daughter’s immaturity and lack of self control.Consequently, the poor decisions she makes forces her to grow up under the supervision of her mother, ensuring that she faces the consequences of her actions when she gets out of line. After the teenage girl is caught drinking alcohol while babysitting, she regrets what she has done and moves on from the mistake she made earlier.

    In conclusion, the character did what she thought would get rid of her unwanted mental state, but she didn’t get that at all, instead she gained knowledge and growth in the process. As a result, she is granted the ability to deal with life’s issues and move on from them.III. Characters The narrator is the main character of the story.

    She is young naive girl who falls in love and gets her heart-broken. She then becomes obsessed with the boy and acts out by drinking to try to forget him. This incident works because after that night she could careless about the boy again. Martin Collingwood is the boy the narrator feel in love with.

    He was in the Drama club and that is where he met the girl he broke up with the narrator for. Joyce is the narrator’s best friend who goes with her to watch the play Martin and his new girlfriend are in.She is also the one the narrator calls to come help her when she gets sick from drinking. The Berryman’s is the couple who the narrator was babysitting for.

    It was their alcohol the narrator drank after they left to go out. Kay Stinger is the girl Joyce brought with her to help with the narrator. She helped clean her up and made her coffee. There is also the narrator’s mother who tried so hard to help her daughter.

    She even replaces the alcohol that her daughter drank to the Berryman’s. IV. Plot The narrator begins the story by talking about how her parents don’t drink, but that occasionally her dad would have a beer outside of the house.She speaks about her adolescent infatuation with Martin Collingwood.

    After they broke up she becomes depressed and melodramatic about the situation. One night she goes to babysit for the Berryman’s and decides to have a drink of their liquor. She ends up getting drunk and calling her friends to help her. They come over and the Berryman’s come home early to find her drunk and in her slip since her clothes were covered in vomit and her friends dancing and socializing in their house.

    Mr. Barryman takes her home and she tells her mother what happened.From there on out her social life was essentially dead. At the end of the story she is a grown, married, mother of two children for several years now and sees Martin at a funeral.

    She has no desire to be in his life anymore. V. Analysis #1 The daughter in “An Ounce of Cure” talks about her mother as someone who doesn’t believe her daughter will do very well at anything. The mother, as the daughter sees her, doesn’t understand anything the daughter is going through.

    After the drinking incident, this just seemed to confirm the mothers thoughts of her daughter, and it soon gets all around town.The daughter is having a hard time getting over her first love, and the “incident” helps her get over him. The description of the drunken escapade seems to be very traumatic for the narrator. She describes it as a very intense, moment.

    She describes what movements she does remember as murky and uncertainty. The language she uses is not of a humorous type, but more of a serious, or kind of sickly nature. Her sentences are short and sort of absent-minded; but not in a funny way. The only part where she seems to start to be humorous is when she states “watch me walk a straight line.

    Which isn’t humorous because this is when the Barrymores come home! I think the “adult” narrator looks back at the incident as a moment in her life that ended up turning out good. I am sure that at the time she felt different, but now she looks back at it as a learning experience. As an adult now she presents the details that will shape the plot as one of a positive note, instead of negative. She takes a breakup, her first drank, and the horrible social effects on her and turns it all into a message with good.

    The daughter and mother relationship in the beginning is very unstable. The daughter thinks her mother doesn’t realize what she is going through, and the mother thinks her daughter can do nothing right. Her relationship with Martin Collingswood doesn’t work out well and just about kills her in the process. The mother/daughter relationship seems to get worse by the “first drunk”, it just solidifies what the mother believed about her daughter after all.

    The whole town now knows of her bad relationship with Martin, but this seems to prove helpful to the narrator overall.So the “incident” seemed to help the relationship with Martin, but not with the mother; that I think stayed the same. Analysis #2 Trevor If Munro was funny in “The Office,” that’s nothing compared to the humor she uses in “An Ounce of Cure. ” This story had me laughing out loud in some places, and throughout I was downright giddy with her observations and with her prose.

    As expected, though, there’s a bite, a serious undercurrent that doesn’t subvert the comedy; rather, it all matches the adult narrator’s amused and bemused reflection on what she thinks of as her first debauch.The humor is a device we often use to cover up our genuine horror. The first thing this older narrator says to us is that her parents didn’t drink. Sure, every once in a while her father had a beer, but he drank it outside of the house, and her mother never joined him.

    In their small town, most people lived the same way. Something happened to our narrator, though, at a young age, something that not only alienated her from her friendships, her work, and her community, but also from her own mother.It’s a long sentence that introduces this, but it’s worth quoting in full: I ought not to say that it was this which got me into difficulties, because the difficulties I got into were a faithful expression of my own incommodious nature — the same nature that caused my mother to look at me, on any occasion which traditionally calls for feelings of pride and maternal accomplishment (my departure for my first formal dance, I mean, or my hellbent preparations for a descent on college) with an expression of brooding and fascinated despair, as if she could not possibly expect, did not ask, that it should go with me as it did with other girls; the dreamed-of spoils of daughters — orchids, nice boys, diamond rings — would be borne home in due course by the daughters of her friends, but not by me; all she could do was hope for a lesser rather than a greater disaster — an elopement, say, with a boy who could never earn his living, rather than an abduction into the White Slave trade. This “incommodious nature” is showcased in one evening of babysitting for the Berrymans on an April Saturday night.

    Ever since the previous September she had been tortured by her feelings for Martin Collingwood, a boy who looked at her on day in early September with a surprised expression (“I never knew what surprised him; I was not looking like anybody but me”), kissed her for a few weeks, and then moved on. She missed him, but her real torture started when she saw him playing Mr.Darcy in the Christmas production of Pride and Prejudice: “the part gave Martin an arrogance and male splendour in my eyes which made it impossible to remember that he was simply a high-school senior, passably good-looking and of medium intelligence. ” For the next four months, this fifteen-year-old girl suffered.

    Her adult self wonders, “Why is it a temptation to refer to this sort of thing lightly, with irony, with amazement even, at finding oneself involved with such preposterous emotions in the unaccountable past? ” I think it’s because that past is actually incredibly painful; ironic distance is a kind of balm. This young girls’ emotional attachment to Martin was real torture, and if at first she found some pleasure in it, soon she wanted to be free. She even took some steps toward suicide.Soon we get to that April night when she babysits for the Berrymans who were off on an evening with friends, an evening they’d initiated with a few drinks in the kitchen, leaving the bottles of whiskey and scotch out on the counter.

    You can guess what happens. As a teetotaler, I’ve never been drunk, but Munro’s description is one of the most vivid I’ve ever read. This poor girl, who drank hoping for a change in mood, ends up plastered, dangerously so considering the mixture she concocted and the amount she drank. It’s funny when her friends show up to help her out, brewing coffee, cleaning the house and the narrator up, hoping that by the time the Berrymans get home all will be well.

    It’s funny as the adult narrator reflects on this experience with a sense of amazement. When I finished reading the story, I looked around the web to see what others thought. Many of the short pieces I read looked at this story as a kind of transition from innocence to experience. The narrator is growing up, does something dumb, learns her lesson, and is able to move into a brighter future, was the type of phrase I read in several of these pieces, enough to make me think this story must have come up in a classroom discussion or something.

    But I don’t think this is what this story is about at all. First, right after this Saturday evening is over, it gets around town that she got drunk at the Berrymans.Not only that, but because she told her mother the whole story, it also somehow gets around that the tried to commit suicide over Martin Collingwood. Her mother, shocked at what her daughter was capable of, threatens to not let her date until she is sixteen or older, but .

    . . This did not prove to be a concrete hardship at all, because it was at least that long before anybody asked me. If you think that news of the Berrymans adventure would put me in demand for whatever gambols and orgies were going on in and around that town, you could not be more mistaken.

    It’s not a story about learning one’s lesson. There’s something else going on here. This girl was suffering, tried to find some relief, and was severely punished for it.The older narrator cannot help but look back with some amazement: But the development of events on that Saturday night — that fascinated me; I felt that I had had a glimpse of the shameless, marvellous, shattering absurdity with which the plots of life, though not of fiction, are improvised.

    The humor is deliberate; it’s perhaps the only way this narrator can look back on this event. She wonders why we look back on these times with irony, but it’s here. The narrator seems to have recovered well enough from this event and from the years of ostracism. She marries, has children, and even remains in the same small town.

    However, for me the story ends ambiguously. Either she’s strong and confident now, or that’s just another shield to protect the scars of growing up. After years of avoiding Martin Collingwood, who also stayed in the same town, she runs into him at a funeral.As he did on that September years earlier, he looks at her with some surprise, perhaps “by a memory either of my devotion or my little buried catastrophe.

    ” I gave him a gentle uncomprehending look in return. I am a grown-up woman now; let him unbury his own catastrophes. Betsy “An Ounce of Cure” is important – it represents a road Munro might have taken, instead of the one she did. It made me laugh out loud.

    It was so funny I read parts of it aloud to my husband. A fifteen-year-old girl, thrown over by her first boyfriend, finds herself babysitting on the night of the big dance. In a little revolt, she decides to try out the whisky that her employers are so casual and delighted with.Farce ensues, complete with the adult’s dry account of all the dreadful events of the evening, every last one.

    This is another of Munro’s girls, tough and sensitive at the same time, trying life on. This time it’s stand-up funny. Written fifty years later, “To Reach Japan” has as its girl the young mother-writer out of her league at a literary cocktail party, and it’s not so funny. The fifties and sixties were hard-drinking times, way before the MADD mothers, and it will be interesting to see what role alcohol plays in the stories in between, especially given that writers have often been forgiven their and their characters’ heavy drinking, but for women writers and women in general, it’s a different story.

    It’s obvious, however, that Munro could have had a little following writing funny stuff, and could have never bothered with what finally absorbed her. Being funny would have been a cul-de-sac, though. For one thing, what the girl did that night was so dangerous as to have been a near-death experience, and I’m not so sure Munro makes that clear, or was even aware of that at the time she wrote it – those times being so close to the “Mad Men” era. But Faulkner can indulge his funny bone in ambiguous and dangerous territory and win the Nobel Prize, so I wonder here about there being different rules for women (something Munro herself appears to question frequently).

    Flannery O’Connor is funny; but with O’Connor the humor is in he service of a moral view; the humor is just a piece of a very rich quilt, a manner of making sure evil gets its comeuppance. That “An Ounce of Cure” does not have O’Connor’s deep purpose suggests that this story must have been one of Munro’s “exercises,” while she was still learning what kind of writer she intended to be. Women still face terrific challenges trying to sort out a life; watching Munro experiment with what might have been a profitable dead-end is instructive. She spent time on that story, it is drop-dead funny.

    How easily we go down a path and get diverted. But Munro doesn’t. Just look at “The Peace of Utrecht,” “Walker Brothers Cowboy,” “Boys and Girls,” or “Dance of the Happy Shades. ”

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    “An Ounce of Cure” by Alice Munro. (2017, May 18). Retrieved from

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