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Gravel

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “Gravel” by Alice Munro. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, themes and message.

Presentation of the text

Title: “Gravel” (2011)
Author: Alice Munro
Genre: Short story

Alice Ann Munro (b. 1931) is a Canadian short story writer. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013. She originally published “Gravel” in 2011 in The New Yorker and added it to her short story collection Dear Life in 2012.

Excerpt

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Title

The title of the short story “Gravel” by Alice Munro has both a literal and a symbolic meaning.

In the literal sense, the title names the most important element of the setting where the action takes place. The gravel pit is mentioned in the first line of the story, establishing its importance. The narrator’s mother draws attention to it, using the gravel pit as a landmark to determine the location of her house. Furthermore, the gravel pit is also the location where the drowning scene takes place, the climax of the story.

Social setting

The narrator and her family relocated from a small Canadian town to the countryside. Therefore, the story deals with the social setting of urban and suburban Canadian society.

The urban setting represents a conventional society. This is the place where the mother lives with her husband. He has a stable job, and she leads a quiet life, reading and tending the garden. The people who live in this town probably are like them. They value stability and live in big houses that offer them security.

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Gravel

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