LITERATURE: Alice Munro’s Accident – The Seeds of Hypertext

This story, in the anthology "The Moons of Jupiter," is a peek into a woman's affair with a married man.  It follows a short time span when Ted's only son Bobby is killed in a snow sled accident, while rounding out the character of the protagonist, Frances, with her interactions with others and her own reflection on the man and the part of him that she, as mistress, is not privy to.

The sneaking around is a good part of the allure of the affair for Frances, though most of the town knows about it. When the accidental death of Ted's son brings together a situation where Ted is confronted by his boss, the high school principal, he makes the decision to leave his family, marry Frances, and leave town. Frances agrees.

Munro then brings us back to the small town, thirty years later, at a wake for the death of her sister-in-law. In the usual chatting and reuniting of old acquaintances, Frances, now married to Ted and a mother, looks closely at the twists and turns of their lives.

If he (Fred Beecher) had not gone out in the snow that day to take a baby carriage across town, Frances would not live in Ottawa now, she would not have her two children, she would not have her life, nothe the same life. (…) Bobby would be about forty years old, perhaps he would be an engineer–his childish interests, recalled now more often by Ted, made that seem likely–he would have a good job, maybe even an interesting job, a wife and children. Greta would be going to see Ted in the hospital, looking after his emphysema. Frances might still be here, in Hanratty, teaching music; or she might be elsewhere. (p. 109)

Frances realizes the paths that open by opportunity, sees the chain of events that lead us into unanticipated areas, and makes another important observation.

What difference, thinks Frances. She doesn't know where that thought comes from or what it means for of course there is a difference, anybody can see that, a life's difference. She's had her love, her scandal, her man, her children. But inside she's ticking away, all by herself, the same Frances who was there before any of it.
Not altogether the same, surely.
The same.

So Frances seems to think that one may change paths by choice or circumstance, and yet remain essentially the same, unaffected by the differences that come with change. Interesting. I wonder if the difference lies in the type of person; if the traveler be openminded and flexible, change would be inevitable, and I would see it as a form of growth of character. If one remains of steadfast opinion in the face of the new, applying what is known to understand and categorize the unknown, then perhaps the event is changed rather than the observer.

But I also see the above as the base of hypertext; the choices made by the characters are now extended to the reader via hypertext links. With my bit of dabbling in hypertext I find that I pick up on its implications and opportunities in reading static literature, observing just as I would find the awesome diction, the twist of plot. Jessica, a Tunxis New Media  student, is doing the same in watching movies.

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One Response to LITERATURE: Alice Munro’s Accident – The Seeds of Hypertext

  1. Dean says:

    I love Alice Munro. Love the quiet richness, the nuanced textures of her stories.

    I haven’t read any for a while. You’ve kicked me into hunting up Selected Stories.

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