LITERATURE: Munro’s Labor Day Dinner – Endings

This story, as do most of Munro's, focuses on how people interact, what part of their inner self they compromise or embellish in order to deal with life and the people in it.  There is usually, as is here, a conflict that unravels slowly through character revelation and interaction, specifically dialogue and reflections, and a resolution that often leaves the character changed only in their acceptance of a situation.

Here, we have a smoldering fight and unhappiness after a year of marriage when realities about one's partner sink in and are often resented. Munro shows us both sides of the situation and we find that they do love each other but that the veneer has worn off. We find the battle one of self-identity and change forced by becoming a partnership. As the ice thaws, one makes the effort to break through and the other accepts, but first considering choices that prepare for future scenarios.

But Munro's ending to this story has just a bit of dissatisfaction to it–not because of the ultimate changes made, the growth in the relationship–but rather the impetus and how it was handled. As they all drive home, and some peace is made, suddenly out of the dark a car comes straight at them, veering off into the cornfields just before they would otherwise impact.  They drive the short distance home and sit in the car in the driveway, likely stunned by the moment that could have ended their lives.

What spoiled it for me? Well I just don't buy that they didn't stop and check on the driver and passenger in the other car. This wouldn't seem realistic, especially since they live out in the country where other cars are not likely to be going by in any number. This sort of changed the image of the two characters that Munro so carefully built.

This entry was posted in LITERATURE and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to LITERATURE: Munro’s Labor Day Dinner – Endings

  1. Jess says:

    I think I would have opted for calling the police from a safe distance rather than stopping. Cornfields, dark country roads, it’s just way too horror flick for my taste, haha.

  2. susan says:

    But Munro writes of an earlier time–this story was first published in The New Yorker in 1981–when it was a bit safer to stop and help. Though time does not necessarily insure safety, the mindset of folks was not one of fear from neighbors in a rural setting, nor as much in urban settings either. In the late fifties my father would think nothing of letting me or my sister stand in a parking space on lower Whalley Avenue in New Haven to save a parking space while he circled the block.

    Times change, and with that, the reading experience of static text.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Actually, the car with which they nearly collide is driving rapidly along a road which intersects theirs; it is not coming along the road straight at them. And It crosses their path not a moment too soon–any later, George, Roberta etc would have been slammed into. I don’t think the young men in the speeding car are even aware that they have crossed the Telephone Road just in front of the pickup–instead it was like ships passing very closely in the night. My point is that the dark car does not veer off into cornfields to prevent an accident, and therefore there is nothing for George and Roberta to check on.

  4. susan says:

    I reread it and of course you’re right, the car flashes by perpendicularly and disappears into the cornfield, but not necessarily off the road which I assumed when I read, “it has disappeared into the corn on the other side of the road.”

    Thanks for clarifying this; it indeed changes the story.

Comments are closed.