Alice Munro
Alice Munro(1931-)
a Canadian short-story writer and three-time winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction. Her stories focus on human relationships looked at through the lens of daily life. While most of Munro’s fiction is set in Southwestern Ontario and the Canadian Pacific Northwest, her reputation as a short-story writer is international. Her "accessible, moving stories" explore human complexities in a seemingly effortless style. Munro's writing has established her as "one of our greatest contemporary writers of fiction," or, as Cynthia Ozick put it, "our Chekhov."
Major Works
Dance of the Happy Shades (19
  68) Lives of Girls and Women(19
  71) Divorce in 1972 Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You (19
  74) Who Do You Think You Are? (19
  78) The Progress of Love (19
  86) Friend of My Youth (19
  90) Open Secret (19
  94) The movie Away From Her 《柳暗花明》is adapted from Alice Munro’s “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” 这是一部探索老年性痴呆患者家庭的爱与关怀的电影。
Writing style
In Munro stories, as in Chekov's, plot is secondary and "little happens." As with Chekov, Garan Holcombe notes: "All is based on the epiphanic moment, the sudden enlightenment, the concise, subtle, revelatory detail." Munro's work deals with "love and work, and the failings of both. She shares Chekov’s obsession with time and our much-lamented inability to delay or prevent its relentless movement forward.“ Alice Munro, Fiction, “Nettles,” The New Yorker, February 21, 2000, p. 254
Pre-reading questions:
What does the title mean? What does “nettles” symbolize? Nettle: a wild plant with rough leaves that sting people grasp the nettle: deal with an unpleasant situation firmly and without delay迎难而上, 大胆抓棘手的问题 be nettled: be annoyed
Narrative Structure

summer of 1979 (para.
  1) years afterwards(para.
as a child(para.3-

summer of 1979 (para.16-
  18) years before, in Vancouver (para.
the weekend in the summer of 1979 (since para.
ketchup the narrator remembers this usual habit of Mike’s, and so she recognized him at once when she saw him making a ketchup sandwich at her friend’s house after many years.
A pen is a small yard or enclosure for domestic animals. To pen is to confine or enclose in a pen. a sheep pen 羊圈 pen sb./sth. in/up 把...关起来,把...圈起来
At hand: near in time or position在手边, 在附近, 即将到来 We want to ensure that help is at hand (= easily available) for all children suffering abuse. On hand (also to hand in UK): near to someone or something, and ready to help or be used if necessary在 手头, 即将发生, 在场 A 1200-strong military force will be on hand to monitor the ceasefire. In hand: being worked on or dealt with now在手头, 在 进行中, 掌握住 They've had plenty of time to prepare, so the arrangements should be well in hand (= almost ready).
A skunk
“each of the trees on the place had an attitude and a presence serene….crabby” (para.
In the eyes of the little girl, every tree existed like a person that had a distinct character. The use of personification of the trees reveals the close and harmonious relationship between nature and the narrator.
adjective peaceful and calm; troubled by nothing: She has a lovely serene face. Serenity: I admired her serenity in the midst of so much chaos. This source of inner serenity may be our best defense against the hassles that barrage us every day. 这种内心 深处的宁静可能是我们抵御日常困扰的最佳能力。 Nothing is given to man automatically, neither knowledge, nor self-confidence, nor inner serenity , nor the right way to use his mind.人得到的任何事物,包括知识、自信、内 心的安宁、思考的正途等,都不是天上掉下来的。
adjective (OLD-FASHIONED crabbed) INFORMAL easily annoyed and complaining: You're very crabby today. What's upset you?
[I usually + adverb or preposition; T] to walk through water with difficulty because of the pressure of the water against your legs: The river was full but we managed to wade across. We waded a shallow river. wade through sth phrasal verb INFORMAL to spend a lot of time and effort doing something boring or difficult, especially reading a lot of information: We had to wade through pages of legal jargon before we could sign the contract. wade into sth phrasal verb to become involved in a difficult situation, often without thinking about it carefully 跋涉, 趟过 费力前进, 好不容易通过
There was a keen alarm when the cry came, a wire zinging through your whole body, a fanatic feeling of devotion. (para.
“zing” means to move quickly, making a whistling noise. In this part about the children’s game, the word “devotion” can best sum up the girl’s feeling for Mike. In playing the game of war, their friendship further developed. “青梅竹马,两小无猜”
Nobody won. The game disintegrated, ….mass resurrection. (para.
After a long while, the game broke up with the children arguing, probably about which side had won, and those who were supposed to have been killed all came back to life again.
One morning, of course….(para.
  12) When the job was finished, Mike’s father would leave the farm and move on to another place for new jobs, and Mike would of course leave with his father. The implied meaning of “of course” is that the girl had known this would happen sooner or later, but she wished that the time spent on the work would be prolonged so that Mike would not have to leave so soon. She had not expected his departure would come so soon.
How all my own territory would be altered, as if a landslide had gone through it and skimmed off all meaning except loss of Mike. (para.
The impact of Mike’s leaving on my life was beyond my imagination. I didn’t expect that Mike’s leaving would have such a tremendous power that it would change the meaning of my existence completely. All my thoughts were about the loss of Mike. “territory”, “landslide”, used metaphorically, comparing her life experience to a territory and the great impact of Mike’s departure to a devastating landslide.
adjective OFTEN DISAPPROVING describes a woman, usually one who is not young, who is fat and does not dress in a fashionable way 过胖的(女孩) 庄重的(妇女
verb [I or T] to cause something to fit exactly together: Their results dovetail nicely with ours. We've tried to dovetail our plans with theirs. Your suggestions are good indeed, but they don't quite dovetail into the rest of the plan. 你的建议固然很好,但跟计划的其余 部分不很协调。
拨(火); 添加燃料于(火炉中); 照管(火炉等); 司(炉) [俚]吃; 吞食 习惯用语
? stoke up 加燃料于(火或炉)中 大量吃, 吃得很多
You should stoke up for you have four hours‘ lesson this morning.你得好好吃一顿,因 为今天上午你上4节课。 You should stoke up now you may not get another meal today.你现在得吃得饱饱的你今天 可能再没饭吃了
verb [I] to go through an area making a lot of noise and causing damage: The demonstrators rampaged through the town, smashing windows and setting fire to cars. Several villages were destroyed by rampaging soldiers. noun [C or U] violent and usually wild behavior: Rioters went on a/the rampage through the city.
. 乱闹, 乱冲, 暴跳 i. 乱闹, 狂暴
荣格 Carl G. Jung
THE UNCONSCIOUS. A basic tenet: All products of the unconscious are symbolic and can be taken as guiding messages. What is the dream or fantasy leading the person toward? The unconscious will live, and will move us, whether we like it or not. Personal unconscious. That aspect of the psyche which does not usually inter the individual's awareness and which appears in overt behavior or in dreams. It is the source of new thoughts and creative ideals, and produces meaningful symbols.
Collective unconscious: That aspect of the unconscious which manifests inherited, universal themes which run through all human life. Inwardly, the whole history of the human race, back to the most primitive times, lives on in us. SYMBOL. A name, term, picture which is familiar in daily life, yet has other connotations besides its conventional and obvious meaning. Implies something vague and partially unknown or hidden, and is never precisely defined. Dream symbols carry messages from the unconscious to the rational mind. ARCHETYPES. These primordial images reflect basic patterns or universal themes common to us all which are present in the unconscious. These symbolic images exist outside space and time. Examples: Shadow, animus, anima, the old wise person, the innocent child. There also seem to be nature archetypes, like fire, ocean, river, mountain.
PERSONA. The "mask" or image we present to the world. Designed to make a particular impression on others, while concealing our true nature. SHADOW. The side of our personality which we do not conscousnly display in public. May have positive or negative qualities. If it remains unconscious, the shadow is often projected onto other individuals or groups. ANIMA. Archetype symbolizing the unconscious female component of the male psyche. Tendencies or qualities often thought of as "feminine." ANIMUS. Archetype symbolizing the unconscious male component of the female psyche. Tendencies or qualities often thought of as "masculine." DREAMS. Specific expressions of the unconscous which have a definite, purposeful structure indicating an underlying idea or intention. The general function of dreams is to restore one's total psychic equlilibrium. They tend to play a complementary or compensatory role in our psychic makeup.
Simone de Beauvoir
In the chapter "Woman: Myth and Reality" of The Second Sex, Beauvoir argued that men had made women the "Other" in society by putting a false aura of "mystery" around them. She argued that men used this as an excuse not to understand women or their problems and not to help them, and that this stereotyping was always done in societies by the group higher in the hierarchy to the group lower in the hierarchy. She wrote that this also happened on the basis of other categories of identity, such as race, class, and religion. But she said that it was nowhere more true than with sex in which men stereotyped women and used it as an excuse to organize society into a patriarchy.
During that time of life that is supposed to be….”The Cocktail Party”
The implied meaning of the sentence is that as young mothers, we were supposed to lead a terribly busy and sometimes confusing or bewildering life brought about by giving birth to and raising babies, and our minds were supposed to be fully occupied by how to feed the babies and things like that. However, in the midst of all this we still felt the need to discuss some of the important thinkers of our time like Simone de Beauvoir and Arthur Koestler and T.S. Eliot’s sophisticated verse play “The Cocktail Party”.
Parcel out
to divide something and give the separate parts to different people: The bigger farms were parcelled out after the revolution in 19
  73. She parcelled out the gifts to the other children.
I was happy with all this it made me feel as if I had made a true change, a long necessary voyage from the house of marriage. (para.
Metaphor, comparing marriage to a house, a place that provides shelter, living space, etc. on the other hand, such a house can be a sort of confinement, hindering one’s freedom.
But it was too much to expect of my daughters who were ten and twelve years old that they should feel the same way.
I accepted this totally different and unfamiliar environment, for this made me feel that I made a true change and made a clean break from the past. But it would be too much if I expected my young daughters to feel the way I did. Expect of对…期望(要求) Most of the parents expect much of their children 大多数父母都对自己的子女寄予很大希望。
and I would be frightened, not of any hostility but of kind of nonexistence. (Para.
The implied meaning of the sentence is that I would be frightened, and my fear was not caused by my neighbors’ visibly noisy and violent way of life, but by a feeling that compared to them I did not really exist.
adjective DISAPPROVING (of places) extremely dirty and unpleasant, often because of lack of money: Many prisons, even today, are overcrowded and squalid places. adjective (of situations and activities) immoral; involving sex and drugs, etc. in an unpleasant way: It's the usual squalid rock star tale of drugs, sex and overdoses. squalid affairs 伤风败俗的坏事 squalid motive 卑鄙的动机
She did not ask me was it delicacy or disapproval? --about my new life.(para.
  29) Alliteration Delicacy: a sensitive diplomacy about what is considered improper or offensive She did not ask me about my new life, either out of subtle consideration for my feeling about this sensitive subject or out of disapproval for my new life style. When old friends meet, they usually ask about each other’s lives. But Sunny didn’t. the narrator guessed this was either because Sunny thought this was a sensitive


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