LITERATURE: Munro’s Labor Day Dinner – Description

While Alice Munro pins down her characters so well that they remain in the mind for a while as an acquaintance, this definitive description of a 12 year-old caught me by surprise:

Eva is wearing several fragile, yellowed lace curtains draped and bunched up, and held together with pins, ribbons, and nosegays of wild phlox already drooping and scattering. One of the curtains is pinned across her forehead and flows behind her, like a nineteen-twenties bridal veil. She has put her shorts on underneath, in case anyone should glimpse underpants through the veiling. (p. 135)

Now this is typical Munro, describing character via the clothing. We can "see" Eva and get an idea of what sort of girl she is; flamboyant yet proper, a wild-looking outfit yet bridal, see-through yet she thinks to put on shorts beneath.  Munro then goes on to confirm our image:

Eva is puritanical, outrageous–an acrobat, a parodist, an optimist, a disturber. Her face, under the pinned veil, is lewdly painted with green eyeshadow and dark lipstick and rouge and mascara. The violent colors emphasize her childish look of recklessness and valor.

This comes after the detailed descriptions of her parents and older sister. We somehow know that Eva is the character to watch.

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