Alice Munro is one of the most well-known and highly praised representative of Canadian short fiction writing, both on the Canadian and on the international scale. As American writer Mona Simpson notes, [Munro’s] genius, has the simplicity of the best naturalism, in that it seems not translated from life, but, rather, like life itself.” In other words, she is praised for being a realist writer. In another article, Canitz and Seamon showed what techniques Munro uses to create the impression of her stories not being stories, but truth”, or the reality” as such. Also, they comment on how the narrator in Munro’s stories reflects from time to time on the narrative technique or the plotline and the development of the story. However, they have omitted some aspects of Munro’s work which would, in fact, support the argument that despite her realism, her short stories are in fact very well-structured, and fit into the general pattern of traditional criteria towards short stories: they excessively use foreshadowing technique, the opening sentence initiates the predesigned effect and every word has its place in the story line, they are indeed chosen very carefully in order to contribute to the effect that the author wants to create, and thus creating a dense text. (Critical perspective online) In this paper, I show how the techniques described by Canitz and Seamon can be depicted in Munro’s novella Miles City, Montana. Then the essay goes on to discuss the other techniques employed by Munro in this short story, including the ones that do not fit into this analysis of realist fiction.”
Canitz and Seamon explain how Munro, as all realists, must somehow persuade her audience that her fiction is not a product of imagination and creativity, but it is rather the truth.” (Canitz and Seamon, 1996: 67) This is done in her writings through a variety of subtle strategies which she uses to build our faith in her reality.” (Canitz and Seamon, 1996: 68) Moreover, as Munro is aware that including realistic details into her stories would not suffice to convince readers that the story presented to them is not fictional, she rather chooses, in a post-modern manner, to acknowledge that she is making up a story. So, we are not simply exposed to the story line, but we are included in a way in the process of writing down the story and creating the characters. Ironically, this technique is in fact a doubly-twisted tool: the fact that she drags the reader into the process of writing does not mean that the writing in fact happened in the way as she told us within the frames of the story. However, this is not obvious at the first glance, and is indeed an effective method to persuade readers on the reality of what they read.
卡尼茨和西蒙解释道，门罗作为所有的现实主义者，必须以某种方式说服她的读者，她的小说不是想象和创造力的产物，而是事实。(Canitz和Seamon, 1996: 67)这在她的作品中是通过各种微妙的策略实现的，她使用这些策略来建立我们对她的现实的信心。(Canitz and Seamon, 1996: 68)此外，由于门罗意识到，在她的故事中加入现实主义的细节不足以让读者相信呈现给他们的故事不是虚构的，她宁愿选择以后现代的方式承认她在编造一个故事。所以，我们并不只是简单地接触到故事情节，而是以某种方式融入到编写故事和创造角色的过程中。具有讽刺意味的是，这种技巧实际上是一种双重扭曲的工具:事实上，她把读者拖进写作的过程中，并不意味着写作实际上是按照她在故事框架内告诉我们的方式进行的。但是，这乍一看并不明显，这确实是一种说服读者相信他们所读内容真实性的有效方法。
Interestingly, the short story Miles City, Montana, involves a triple twist as to the narrative technique: the narrator is also a character at the same time, who reflects on her story-telling. For example the narrator says at one point: It seems to me now that we invented characters for our children.” (Munro, 1985: 661) And indeed, all happenings are told from one point of view, and we only know about other characters what the mother and wife, who is also the narrator, reveals about them. Moreover, this point of view is not consistent in itself: both childhood and adult memories are involved, (Tragedies that help online) which means a change in the way events are seen by the narrator, and also a change in her feelings. This fluctuating view-point, or in better words multiple perceptions of single events” can be seen as a post-modern feature in the narrative construction. (New, 2003: 239) In other words, what we read is not the reality, but we are explicitly told that it is not real, therefore we are more willing to trust the narrator.
The second method used by Munro to create the impression of reality is, – as the pair of authors point out – that the storyline is not linear. Rather, it fluctuates in time and location and subject, and it is left to the reader to figure out the reasons why the shifts are made where and how they are made. (Canitz and Seamon, 1996: 69) Sometimes Munro reflects on the shifts – “I have forgotten to say that…” – but in Miles City, Montana, the shifts are not explained. However, careful reading reveals why the chunks of paragraphs follow each other in the way they do. Steve Gauley’s story is told first to open a frame structure, to set the tone and to begin the foreshadowing sequence that follows. The view of the landscape on their road trip to Ontario evocates childhood memories from the narrator, so this time, it is a stream of consciousness that links together the paragraph on their trip with the following sentences on her past. Then when the mother talks about her hope of Meg not having a temperature, and then jumping back right next to her relation with her parents-in-law, it might be not too far-reaching to conclude that the link that bounds together these two events is the feverishness of the mother to meet up to Andrew’s parents’ expectations. “I hope she isn’t feversih”, says she, and at the same time she herself is overly anxious about what opinion her husbands parents would have on their family life. She even compares herself and her husband to strenuous children. (Munro, 1985: 668) Finally, while she goes to get some drink in the park in Miles City, she observes the environment very carefully -as carefully as she is supposed to watch out for her daughters. [Y]ou feel their singleness and precise location and the forlorn coincidence of your being there to see them.” (Munro, 1985: 670) This is the sentence that precedes her sudden thought of the children, and it can be interpreted in both ways: meaning the nature, and meaning Cynthia and Meg as well. So, Munro’s story-telling is of a “rambling nature” (Canitz and Seamon, 1996: 68) which reminds the reader constantly that what he or she is reading is only a recollection, and successfully creates the impression that we are not being exposed to a story, but to a real, true event.
正如两位作者所指出的，门罗用来创造现实印象的第二种方法是，故事情节不是线性的。相反，它会在时间、地点和主题上波动，留给读者去弄清楚为什么会在哪里以及如何发生这些变化。(Canitz和Seamon, 1996: 69)有时，门罗会反思这种转变——“我忘了说……”——但在蒙大拿州的迈尔斯市，这种转变没有得到解释。然而，仔细阅读就会发现为什么段落的大块部分会以这样的方式相互衔接。史蒂夫·高利的故事首先展开了一个框架结构，定下了基调，然后开始了后续的铺垫。他们去安大略的公路旅行中看到的风景唤起了叙述者童年的记忆，所以这一次，是意识流将他们旅行的一段与她过去的句子连接在一起。当梅格的母亲谈到她希望没有温度,然后跳回旁边与她的岳父,这可能是不太深远的得出的链接范围这两个事件是一起疯狂的母亲见面安德鲁的父母的期望。“我希望她不要发烧，”她说，与此同时，她自己也过于担心丈夫的父母会对他们的家庭生活有什么看法。她甚至把自己和丈夫比作勤奋的孩子。(门罗，1985:668)最后，当她去迈尔斯市的公园喝点东西时，她非常仔细地观察环境——就像她应该照顾她的女儿一样。[你]会感觉到他们的单身、确切的位置，以及你恰好在那里见到他们的凄凉巧合。(门罗，1985:670)这句话在她突然想到孩子们之前，可以从两方面解释:指的是自然，也指的是辛西娅和梅格。所以，门罗的故事叙述具有一种“散漫的性质”(Canitz and Seamon, 1996: 68)，不断提醒读者，他或她所读的只是一段回忆，并成功地营造出一种印象，即我们接触的不是一个故事，而是一个真实的、真实的事件。
Finally, the article notes that [m]any brief passages in Munro’s stories quietly create the ‘reality effect’ she seeks.” (Canitz and Seamon, 1996: 73) For example when the parents reflect on Meg’s accident, both reject its unnatural, or supernatural features. The mother denies that she would have a mothers’ instinct, and attributes her sudden thought about the children to mere luck. Similarly the husband does not recollect properly how he had jumped over or climbed the fence, but plainly states that he cannot understand it, rather than mythologize what had happened. Thus, the narration becomes free of legend-making.” (Canitz and Seamon, 1996: 77) On the other hand, this episode could be also interpreted as a sign of the ambiguity and unreliability of experience, a sign of how â€ževents and memories, experience and fictional reconstruction, never precisely coincide” which is also characteristic of Munro’s style. (New, 2003: 239 and 299) In addition, by the end of the short story, when we already know that Meg had survived the accident, we are nevertheless confronted with another possible ending to this story – details of a tragic ending with Meg being dead are elaborated in a lengthy paragraph, at the end of which the narrator poses the question: There’s something trashy about this kind of imagining, isn’t there?” (Munro 1985: 673), again reflecting on the story-telling.
最后，文章指出，门罗小说中的任何简短段落都悄悄地创造了她所追求的“现实效应”。(Canitz和Seamon, 1996: 73)例如，当父母反思Meg的事故时，他们都拒绝接受它不自然或超自然的特征。这位母亲否认自己有做母亲的本能，并将她突然想到孩子只是运气使然。同样地，丈夫也记不得他是如何跳过或爬上篱笆的，只是清楚地表示他无法理解，而不是将所发生的事情神话化。这样，叙事就摆脱了神话的束缚。“(Canitz and Seamon, 1996: 77)另一方面，这段情节也可以被解释为经验的模糊性和不可靠性的标志，â€ževents与记忆、经验和虚构的重建，从来没有精确地重合”，这也是门罗风格的特点。(新,2003:239年和299年)此外,短篇故事的结束,当我们已经知道梅格在事故中幸存下来的,我们却面临着另一个可能的结束这个故事——一个悲剧性的结局的细节梅格是死在一段冗长的阐述,最后的旁白就带来一个问题:这种想象有点垃圾，不是吗?(门罗1985:673)，再次反思了故事的叙述。
Having showed all this, and before turning towards other techniques that are in contradiction with the claim of reality” in the short story, let me point out some further evidence that support Munro’s realism, but are not elaborated in Canitz’s and Seamon’s article: Firstly, Munro’s language is not very poetic or literal. She prefers to use everyday langauge, which adds to the real life taste of her stories. As one crticic puts it, Munro’s stories are translations into the next-door language of fiction of all those documentary details, those dazzling textures and surfaces, of remembered experience.” (Ross, 112, quoted in Canitz and Seamon, 1996: 68) However, simple language does not exlude the use of lirical devices. All characters in the short story create images, and make lirical similes themselves. The narrator compares Steve Gauley to a heap of refuse” (Munro, 1985: 656) and draws a parallel between the Gauley’s tumbledown house and their shackly family life. The children, who play important, but not dominent [sic!] role (Jakabfi, 2003: 195) give an old-lady like image to their previous family car, and a sporty image to the new one. The parents make fun of their daughters by the father telling them about the beach which would be after the next curve and the mother pretending to produce some lemonade and grape juice with her magic wand. Cynthia adds that â€ž[i]n Miles City, there is a beautiful blue swimming pool for children, and a park with lovely trees.” (Munro, 1985: 668) In short, it seems that they are creating reality around themselves.
有显示这一切,和之前转向其他技术矛盾与现实”的说法在短篇故事,让我指出一些支持Munro现实主义的进一步证据,但不Canitz和Seamon的文章中阐述:首先,Munro不是很诗意的语言或文字。她更喜欢使用日常语言，这增加了她的故事的真实生活的味道。正如一位评论家所说，门罗的小说是将所有那些纪实细节，那些令人眼花缭乱的纹理和表面，以及记忆中的经历，翻译成隔壁的小说语言。(Ross, 112，引用于Canitz和Seamon, 1996: 68)然而，简单的语言并不排除歌词设备的使用。短篇小说中的所有人物都创造了形象，并自己创造了诗意的比喻。叙述者将史蒂夫·高利比作一堆垃圾”(门罗，1985:656)，并将高利家的破旧房子和他们的家庭生活进行了对比。孩子们，谁玩重要，但不占主导地位[原文!角色(Jakabfi, 2003: 195)给他们以前的家庭汽车一个老太太的形象，给新汽车一个运动的形象。这对父母取笑他们的女儿，父亲告诉他们下一个弯道后会有海滩，母亲假装用她的魔棒挤出一些柠檬水和葡萄汁。辛西娅补充说，â€ž[i]n迈尔斯市，有一个漂亮的儿童蓝色游泳池，和一个有可爱的树木的公园。(门罗，1985:668)简而言之，他们似乎在自己周围创造现实。
Canitz and Seamon claim that Munro creates the impression of realism [by giving] a significant place to improbability and contingency, elements that are opposed to the conventionally well-constructed realist narrative.” However, some techniques utterly contradict the claim that this story would be developing before our eyes, with no obvious plotline at hand at the beginning, but through accidents rather. The most obvious such tool is that of foreshadowing. In Miles City, Montana, there are several hints in the story that imply what the readers can expect to happen by the end. Throughout reading the story, as soon as we learn about the road trip, we fear that one family member, possibly one of the children, will die. This impression is already created in the very first sentence of the novella: “My father came accross the field carrying the body of the boy who had been drowned.” (Munro, 1985: 656) Immediately, the tone is set: it is rather sinister. The narrator continues to give readers hints about an expected tragedy. Meg waves good-bye to the house, and although Cynthia, the elder girl assures her it is not forever that they are leaving it, the readers are left with a feeling of doubt and uneasiness whether the family would really return. On their way to Ontario, they see a dead deer on the road, which was probably hit by accident – readers wonder is one of the family members going to suffer an accident? This fear of one character dying at the end is reinforced by Cynthia song, in which five little ducks go out, but only four come back. Then we learn about the narrator and her husband not living together anymore, which raises the question did their marriage got ruined because of the death of a child? This is followed by the recollection of the narrator and her father saving turkeys from drowning, and finally, the family plays “Who am I?”, and Cynthia is someone dead. This massive amount of hints indicate a very consciously used foreshadowing technique by the author.
To sum up, I have showed in the above paragraphs how the narrative technique of Miles City, Monatana, is in accord with what the Canitz-Seamon article argued about Alice Munro’s techniques to create the sense of realism in fiction. I have added that language and creating imagery are also techniques used in this short story, while at the same time pointing out that the excessive use of foreshadowing technique does not fit into the line of argument about Munro’s realism and conscious restraint from linear story-telling. A look at other Munro short fiction could lead to a better understanding of Munro’s status as a realist writer.
综上所述，我已经在上面的段落中展示了《Monatana Miles City》的叙事技巧与Canitz-Seamon文章中关于Alice Munro在小说中创造现实主义的技巧是一致的。我补充了语言和创造意象也是这个短篇小说中使用的技巧，同时指出过多的使用伏笔手法并不符合门罗的现实主义和线性叙事的有意识克制的论点。看一看门罗的其他短篇小说，可以更好地理解门罗作为一个现实主义作家的地位。