Dear Life: Stories
WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE© IN LITERATURE 2013 A New York Times Notable Book A Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction A Best Book of the Year: The Atlantic, NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, Vogue, AV Club In story after story in this brilliant new collection, Alice Munro pinpoints the moment a person is forever altered by a chance encounter, an action not taken, or a simple twist of fate. Her characters are flawed and fully human: a soldier returning from war and avoiding his fiancée, a wealthy woman deciding whether to confront a blackmailer, an adulterous mother and her neglected children, a guilt-ridden father, a young teacher jilted by her employer. Illumined by Munro’s unflinching insight, these lives draw us in with their quiet depth and surprise us with unexpected turns. And while most are set in her signature territory around Lake Huron, some strike even closer to home: an astonishing suite of four autobiographical tales offers an unprecedented glimpse into Munro’s own childhood. Exalted by her clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, Dear Life shows how strange, perilous, and extraordinary ordinary life can be.
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To Reach Japan
One reason that the author reveals that Peter's father died before the journey to Western Europe is to
The orange country on the map below shows Soviet Czechoslovakia. (This annotation contains an image)
Below is the audio version of this novel. Listen to the sample up to this point in the story. (Click Play Sample.) Think about how listening to the story compares to reading the story yourself. (This annotation contains a link)
Compare the audio version of Dear Life to the print version you are reading. Does the audio version interpret the story differently from you? Explain.
What detail from the text best illustrates why Greta feels unwelcome at the party?
Did you know that you can use the Define feature on Curriculet to look up words that you do not know? Simply highlight a word and click "Define".
Why does the man call the drinks "lethal"?
Vancouver is a city located in Canada. The city is illustrated on the map below. (This annotation contains an image)
The author uses the Vancouver weather to
Greta goes to many lengths to find Harris' contact information. What does Greta's persistence illustrate about her feelings towards Harris?
From Katy's reaction it is clear that
This is a picture of Buckingham Palace located in London, England. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the fact that Greta has not thought of Peter indicate about the state of her relationship with Peter?
A berth is a small bed that is used on long train rides. The image below shows a berth on a train that is probably similar to the one described in this passage. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Katy's reaction towards her mom reveal about her current mental state?
Pay attention to how the author uses the word "spasmodic" to describe Greta's tenderness towards her daughter. How does this word evoke a sense of inconsistency in the way that Greta shows affection?
What does the highlighted passage and the previous incident on the train reveal about Greta as a mother?
Pay attention to how the description of the cold and dark room evokes a somber mood.
The narrator ultimately decides not to eat the food in the bag because
TB stands for the disease "Tuberculosis." To learn more about this disease, watch the short video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does the teacher feel embarrassed for referencing Russian literature?
Pay attention to the repeated description of the cold. Watch this short video on tone and mood to help you. How does the temperature add to the overall tone of the short story? (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted text is ____________.
Despite being afraid of the dog, the narrator
The picture below shows two children riding on a toboggan. A toboggan is a sled that is used in the winter to ride down hills. (This annotation contains an image)
From the highlighted detail we can infer that the doctor is ____________.
"The Magic Mountain" is the name of a novel written by Thomas Mann and published in 1924. The novel has many similarities to the short story including a similar setting in an institution for people recovering from lung ailments.
The narrator says that she gets hot when she drinks tea to
The narrator describes the doctor in a way that indicates she has romantic feelings for him. Pay attention to how the mood of the passage changes once Mary enters the scene.
Compare the doctor's reaction to Mary to the narrator's reaction.
Based on his reactions to conventional wedding preparations, think about what type of person the doctor is. Watch the short video below on making inferences to help remind you how to make an inference based on textual evidence. (This annotation contains a video)
The narrator's use of the doctor's real name indicates that she
Think about why the doctor has made a sudden change in his decision to marry the narrator. Was there any clue that this would ultimately be how the story ends?
Why does the doctor say that this might one day be one of the luckiest days of the narrator's life?
Think about how the highlighted statement could serve as a theme statement for the last two short stories. As you read the next story, think about if this statement also applies. The video below reviews the concept of theme. (This annotation contains a video)
What details about Leah indicate that she followed a strict religious practice?
Pericarditis is the inflammation of the wall surrounding the heart. The image below shows the pericardium surrounding the heart. The symptoms are very painful. (This annotation contains an image)
Ray's decision to go out to search for Leah after his shift is over indicates that he
Think about why the minister's reaction surprised Ray. What could the minister have done to make it seem like he cared more about the fact that Leah was missing?
Contrast the description of Leah in this passage to earlier descriptions of her.
As you read, pay attention to how Leah has changed since the beginning of the novel. Watch the short video below to learn how to identify major and minor changes in characters. (This annotation contains a video)
From their reactions, it is clear that Leah looks ___________ to the men.
One of the reasons that Leah did not go with her husband is because
What does the change in visitation patterns indicate about the husband's commitment to his wife?
Why do you think Isabel's death leaves such tremendous emptiness in her husband's life?
The picture below shows a gravel pit similar to the one described in this story. (This annotation contains an image)
Leaving her husband made the narrator's mother feel _________.
What is Caro's motivation for bringing Blitzee back to her father's house?
Neal's mention of Vietnam reveals that the story takes place shortly after the Vietnam war. The Vietnam war lasted throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Are there any other clues that reveal the time period in which this story takes place?
How has pregnancy changed the narrator's mother?
Caro drowned after
Reflect on the symbolism in the highlighted passage. What is the significance of the gravel pit being leveled? Watch the short video below to learn more about symbolism. (This annotation contains a video)
The map below shows the location of Ghana. (This annotation contains an image)
From the details so far, it is clear that the narrator's uncle
Describe the power dynamic in the relationship between Dawn and Jasper.
What makes Uncle Jasper's reaction to Aunt Dawn's dinner so surprising? How does his reaction add to your understanding of the nature of their relationship?
Why does Dawn want to keep her excursion to the hotel a secret from her husband?
Watch a minute or two of the video below to hear "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" by Mozart. How does the music make you feel? (This annotation contains a video)
Why did the mood of the room change so suddenly?
The image below is a photograph of a bloodstone pendant that is probably similar to the one that Dawn received for Valentine's Day. Why does this gift make her cry? (This annotation contains an image)
What does this detail reveal about Jasper?
Pay attention to how the author creates a humorous tone in this blunder by Uncle Jasper. What about Uncle Jasper's personality makes this moment particularly humorous?
The highlighted sentence is most likely
Lake Simcoe is located in the middle of the map below. What does having a "place" on a lake reveal about the family's income? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does the narrator consider it strange to feel sorry for Oneida?
Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II. The image below is a photograph of Churchill during the war. He was a renowned public speaker and many of his speeches are still referenced in popular culture today. (This annotation contains an image)
The narrator expresses that it is better to live in the same place for his whole life because
The West Indies are located in the Caribbean. Think about why this would be an ideal location for a vacation. (This annotation contains an image)
Notice how the author structures the dialogue without quotation marks. Why do you think the author does this and what effect does it have on you as a reader?
What is another way to say, "I had no inkling"?
The image below shows several skunks. Why would this be a sight that would cause people to stop and stare? (This annotation contains an image)
What is the overall mood in the last part of the novel? Support your answer with evidence from the text that illustrates the mood.
Howard's opinion of Corrie can best be described as _________________.
"Lame" in this context means that she was unable to move one of her legs without a limp of some kind. As you read, think about the significance of this fact.
The image below shows a silver-fox collar. Why is Corrie so surprised that Lillian mentioned it? (This annotation contains an image)
Explain why Corrie regrets using the word "family" in this situation.
The image below shows a Carnegie Library that is probably similar to the library described in this passage. (This annotation contains an image)
Corrie and Howard did not think that
Corrie's mood in this passage is __________.
Why does Corrie appear so uncomfortable in this scene?
Why does Howard respond saying that Corrie should be glad that Lillian died?
The man in the story has just
How does the man know that there is another man around the house?
The image below shows cheesecloth. Cheesecloth is a type of fabric used to strain whey from cheese curds. (This annotation contains an image)
Belle's mother was impacted by the flu in what major way?
The image below shows a potato "eye". If you cut off the eye, you can plant it and it will grow into a new potato plant. (This annotation contains an image)
Mennonites are a sect of Christianity known for their very conservative dress. The image below shows young women who are part of the Mennonite sect. (This annotation contains an image)
From Bella's reaction it is clear that she
The word "dopey" means "out of it". Think about why Belle wouldn't be herself after being seen by a doctor.
Why does Belle feel happy?
Think about why he feels "afraid" about having to kiss Belle good night. Why would this be something he would not want to do?
From the detail in the highlighted passage you can infer that the Bonnie Dundee is
How does Jackson know that this woman is Ileane? What is significant about her visit to the home?
A minister's daughter smoking is an example of __________.
Think about why the author includes the highlighted line saying that Billy would be dead in two years. What effect does this fact have on the overall tone of the passage?
The photograph below shows King George VI. (This annotation contains an image)
In Sight of the Lake
The elderly woman uses ___________ in the highlighted passage.
What does the fact that Nancy wants to find the doctor's office herself reveal about her character?
Nancy doesn't think the couple is married because
From this detail you can infer that the man
How does the highlighted passage reveal Nancy's comfort with silence? Is this a common attribute for most people to have?
What is being revealed about Nancy's mental state?
Why does the narrator want to leave a note?
"Once in a blue moon" means very infrequently.
The woman in the highlighted passage has a _________ view towards marriage.
"Wild Geese" is the name of a novel by Martha Ostenso that was published in 1925. (This annotation contains an image)
How has the narrator changed from the beginning of the novel to now?
"Nursemaid" is another word for "nanny". Pay attention to how Dolly's relationship with Franklin is revealed over the next several pages.
The narrator's mood has changed quickly to one that is filled with _________.
What does Franklin's response reveal about his relationship with his wife? Why does the fact that he honks his horn hold significance to her?
The narrator's mood is best described as ____________.
The image below shows an eclipse. Think about why the author uses this imagery to describe Dolly. (This annotation contains an image)
Explain why the narrator is feeling both anger and relief at the same time.
"Rows" is another word for "arguments". Why does Franklin say that he and his wife cannot afford to argue?
Why does the narrator have admiration for Franklin?
What do the narrator's descriptions of her mother's pregnancies reveal about the narrator's age?
Pay attention to how the narrator's point of view regarding her baby sibling differs from her mother's point of view. How does this add to the tension in the story?
Pay attention to how Sadie differs from the narrator's mother. Who is more influential to the narrator and why?
Why doesn't the narrator share with her mother how she really feels about the babies?
The mood of the highlighted passage is best described as ____________.
Notice that the first time the author explains that Sadie has died is in the topic sentence of this paragraph. How does this choice build tension more effectively than revealing the detail earlier?
Review the video on irony and consider why this scenario is ironic. (This annotation contains a video)
Why did children consider getting their appendix out to be a rite that "set you apart"?
What activity is the narrator struggling to do in this passage?
This is a picture of a hammock. Consider why the narrator claims that her time spent on the hammock may account for her inability to sleep at night. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does the narrator find her father's behavior strange?
The picture below shows teenagers square dancing together. (This annotation contains an image)
The narrator's mother
The picture below shows a closeup of gold taffeta fabric similar to the one described in the text. Why is this a "startling sight" for the narrator? (This annotation contains an image)
What makes the woman "notorious" to the people in town?
Who are the "comforters" that are mentioned in this paragraph?
Consider why the narrator calls Peggy "undeserving" of the comfort and kindness of the men.
The picture below shows a bag of golf clubs. Why is the narrator surprised to see this object in her house? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does the narrator's father want to play golf?
The photograph below shows a hatchet. Why does Mrs. Netterfield's use of the hatchet cause the grocery boy such alarm? (This annotation contains an image)
The narrator is
The photograph below shows a tree impacted by Dutch elm disease. Why do you think the author chooses to include this detail in the passage? (This annotation contains an image)
The italicized words represent