By using disorientating shifts in time, Munro through ordinary language creates extraordinary effects in the mind of the reader, who will contemplate the true meaning behind the story for a considerable time after they have finished reading it. The ending of ‘Postcard’ adds an extra perspective to the story. Munro chooses to make her voice heard at the end of the story. By choosing to do this she adds additional detail, which through her unique portrayal of the characters unsettles the carefully constructed narrative.
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Although the words in the story are credited to the character Buddy it is blatantly obvious to the reader that they are being told the true thoughts and feelings of the author in this case Alice Munro. “So just be a good girl, Helen and go along like the rest of us and pretty soon we’ll see spring. ‘ ‘Postcard’ explores sexual differences, with respect to power and status. These differences are made obvious by the subject matter that Alice Munro considers. Munro explores the idea of women considered as being lesser beings than men.
She uses the example of women having to behave differently within relationships than men. “Once a man loses his respect for a girl, he is apt to get tired of her. ” Within the story women are subservient to men. One way this idea is is shown through the words and actions of the character Buddy Shields. Buddy Shields treats Helen as a little girl and his tone towards her is condescending. “Well you got to be a good girl and stop honking that horn. ” Through his treatment of Helen, Clare has also shown the tendencies of men to think of women as lesser beings.
Clare gets married and does not tell Helen, leaving her to find out through a family friend Alma. “Clare MacQuarrie has gotten married” “They’re on their way to Jubilee right now and they’re going to live here. ” Helen’s humiliation is public. ‘Postcard’ explores traditional feminine subjects, such as romance through the introduction of the minor character, Ted Forgie, “Wouldn’t I have been surprised if I had seen all of what was going to happen? I hadn’t even met Ted Forgie then. ” Munro explores the idea of memories in the form of a letter that had been sent to Helen by Ted Forgie.
“I knew his letter just from looking at the outside, and I never read it anymore, but just out of curiosity I opened it up and started it off. ” The ordinary language in the letters adds to the extraordinary effects of the introduction of another character which disrupts the carefully constructed narrative. It seems at first that ‘Postcard’ is a simple story of romance and reflection. This idea, is promoted by the ordinary language that Munro uses. However it is really a contemplation of power, status and the realisation of choice.
Munro explores the power of gossip and small town values through the introduction of Helen’s job in the department store, “Inside the store they were waiting, oh, how nice good morning , Helen good morning , Helen – such quiet kind hopeful voices waiting to see if I’m going to fall flat on the floor and start having hysterics. ” Clare escapes being gossiped about because he is male. Munro also considers relationships, but Munro’s language and writing style reflects the contradictions that are inherent within them.
Helen was never certain that Clare would marry her. The most that can be said is that she hoped rather than knew it to be true that he would one day marry her. “Clare and I used to slip in the side door on Saturday nights and make coffee and something to eat in the high, old fashioned kitchen, beings as quiet and sneaky as two kids after school. Then we’d tiptoe up the backstairs to Clare’s room and turn on the television so she’d think that he was by himself, watching that. ”
This extract shows that Helen knew that Clare was ashamed of her and if he would not introduce her to his mother Helen knew he would never marry her. The reason that Clare could never marry Helen is because she was of a lower status and for that reason Clare’s mother would never have seen her as a suitable addition to the family. The idea of balancing two worlds (the public and the private) worlds at the same time is stylistically evident within the work of Alice Munro and within the story ‘Postcard’.
The fact that at the end of the story Clare will still be a pillar of the community but Helen will forever be talked about and will basically be the laughing stock of the whole town for years to come; the ‘white picket fence’ syndrome with everyone thinking things look alright so they must be. This helps to highlight the narrow mindedness of the inhabitants of Jubilee. This also links to gender relationships and social inequality which are well documented within ‘Postcard’.
The ordinary language of the public world, creates extraordinary effects on the reader when they realise that there is another world that exists, the private world. Munro also adds to the idea of realism within ‘Postcard’ by mentioning authentic dialogue and place names (geographical details). The names that she mentions are Jubilee, the principle town where most of the action within the story takes place and Florida where Clare is on holiday and is also the place where the postcard originated from. “It was my only card since he left for Florida three weeks ago. “