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Naum Aksenov
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Alice Munro Wild Swans Read 12: A Guide for Teachers and Students



Alice Munro Wild Swans Read 12: A Review and Analysis




If you are looking for a short story that will captivate your imagination and challenge your perception of reality, you might want to read Alice Munro's Wild Swans. This story is part of Munro's collection of stories titled The Beggar Maid, which was published in 1978. Wild Swans is also featured in Read 12, a digital platform that offers curated reading lists for various genres and topics. In this article, I will review and analyze Wild Swans, focusing on its plot, characters, themes, and literary devices. I will also share my personal opinion and recommendation for this story.




alice munro wild swans read 12



Introduction




Who is Alice Munro?




Alice Munro is a Canadian writer who is widely regarded as one of the greatest living masters of the short story genre. She was born in 1931 in Wingham, Ontario, and grew up in a rural setting that influenced many of her stories. She began writing stories at an early age, but did not publish her first collection until 1968, when she was 37 years old. Since then, she has published 14 collections of stories and one novel. She has won numerous awards and honors for her work, including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013.


What is Wild Swans?




Wild Swans is a short story that was first published in The New Yorker magazine in 1977. It is part of Munro's fourth collection of stories, The Beggar Maid, which revolves around the life of Rose, a woman from a poor background who marries a wealthy professor. Wild Swans is the ninth story in the collection, and it follows Rose as she travels by train from Toronto to Vancouver to visit her father. On the train, she meets a mysterious man who claims to be a doctor and who offers her a drink that has a strange effect on her.


What is Read 12?




Read 12 is a digital platform that aims to help readers discover new books and stories that suit their preferences and interests. It offers curated reading lists for various genres and topics, such as romance, mystery, fantasy, science fiction, history, biography, and more. Each reading list consists of 12 books or stories that are selected by experts and reviewers based on their quality, popularity, relevance, and diversity. Readers can access the reading lists online or download them as PDF files. They can also rate and review the books or stories they have read and share their feedback with other readers.


Thesis statement




In this article, I will argue that Wild Swans is a brilliant example of Munro's skillful storytelling that explores the themes of identity, memory, illusion, and power through the use of realistic details, multiple perspectives, symbolic imagery, and ironic twists.


Summary of Wild Swans




Main characters




The main characters in Wild Swans are:


  • Rose: The protagonist and narrator of the story. She is a young woman who works as a radio host in Toronto. She is married to Patrick, a wealthy professor who is much older than her. She has a strained relationship with her father, who lives in Vancouver.



  • The Doctor: The antagonist of the story. He is a middle-aged man who claims to be a doctor and who meets Rose on the train. He is charming, confident, and persuasive, but he also has a sinister side. He offers Rose a drink that makes her hallucinate and tries to take advantage of her.



  • Flo: Rose's stepmother, who raised her after her mother died. She is a kind, generous, and practical woman who lives in Hanratty, Ontario. She is very protective of Rose and disapproves of her marriage to Patrick.



  • Patrick: Rose's husband, who is a professor of history at the University of Toronto. He is much older than Rose and comes from a wealthy and cultured family. He is intelligent, ambitious, and arrogant, but he also loves Rose and supports her career.



Plot overview




The story begins with Rose boarding a train from Toronto to Vancouver to visit her father, who is ill. She has not seen him for five years, and she feels guilty and anxious about their relationship. She also feels restless and unhappy in her marriage to Patrick, who is too busy with his work and his social life to pay attention to her. She hopes that the trip will give her a chance to reconnect with her father and to find some meaning and excitement in her life.


On the train, she meets a man who introduces himself as a doctor. He is friendly and charming, and he seems to be interested in Rose. He tells her that he is traveling to Vancouver to attend a medical conference, and he invites her to join him for a drink in the dining car. Rose agrees, hoping to have some fun and escape from her boredom. She finds the doctor attractive and amusing, and she enjoys his stories and compliments.


However, things take a dark turn when the doctor offers Rose a drink that he says will make her feel good. Rose accepts the drink, unaware that it contains a drug that causes hallucinations. She soon starts to feel dizzy and confused, and she sees visions of wild swans flying in the sky. The doctor tells her that the swans are a sign of their love, and he tries to kiss her and touch her. Rose realizes that the doctor is not who he claims to be, and that he has drugged her for his own purposes. She tries to resist him, but she is too weak and scared to fight back.


The story then shifts to the past, when Rose was a child living in Hanratty with Flo. She remembers how Flo taught her how to read and write, how to cook and sew, how to behave and dress. She also remembers how Flo warned her about men who would try to deceive her and harm her, especially doctors who would pretend to be nice but who would actually be evil. She recalls how Flo told her stories about wild swans that could turn into humans or vice versa, and how they symbolized freedom and beauty.


The story then returns to the present, when Rose manages to escape from the doctor by pretending to go to the bathroom. She runs back to her seat and locks herself in. She feels sick and terrified, and she wonders if anyone saw what happened or if anyone will believe her. She also wonders if she will ever see the doctor again or if he will try to hurt her more.


The story ends with Rose arriving in Vancouver and meeting her father at the station. He looks old and frail, but he is happy to see her. He hugs her and tells her that he loves her. Rose feels relieved and grateful, but she also feels sad and ashamed. She does not tell him what happened on the train, nor does she tell him about her problems with Patrick. She decides to keep everything to herself, hoping that it will go away.


Themes and symbols




Some of the themes and symbols in Wild Swans are:


  • Identity: The story explores how Rose struggles with her sense of identity as a woman, as a wife, as a daughter, and as an individual. She feels trapped in a marriage that does not fulfill her needs or desires, she feels guilty about abandoning her father who needs her care, she feels insecure about her social status and education compared to Patrick's family, and she feels lost in a world that does not value or respect her. She tries to find herself by traveling across the country, by meeting new people, by reading books and magazines, but she ends up being deceived and violated by someone who pretends to be someone else.



Analysis of Wild Swans




Narrative style and structure




One of the most remarkable aspects of Munro's storytelling is her use of narrative style and structure. She employs a first-person point of view, which allows the reader to access Rose's thoughts and feelings directly. However, she also switches between different time frames and perspectives, creating a complex and layered narrative that reveals different aspects of Rose's personality and history. For example, in the beginning of the story, the reader sees Rose as a confident and successful woman who is traveling across the country for a personal reason. However, as the story progresses, the reader learns more about Rose's past, her marriage, her father, and her stepmother, which paint a different picture of her. The reader also sees how Rose's perception of reality changes as she is drugged by the doctor and as she recalls Flo's stories. The story thus creates a contrast between appearance and reality, between past and present, between fantasy and reality.


Character development and motivation




Another aspect of Munro's storytelling is her ability to create realistic and complex characters who have distinct personalities and motivations. She does not rely on stereotypes or clichés, but rather on subtle details and nuances that reveal the characters' inner lives. For example, Rose is not a typical heroine who is innocent and virtuous, but rather a flawed and conflicted woman who has made mistakes and regrets in her life. She is not happy with her marriage, but she does not know how to change it. She is not close to her father, but she feels obligated to visit him. She is not interested in the doctor, but she is curious and bored. She is not a victim, but she is vulnerable and naive. The doctor is not a typical villain who is evil and cruel, but rather a manipulative and cunning man who knows how to charm and deceive women. He is not a doctor, but he pretends to be one. He is not in love with Rose, but he claims to be. He is not a rapist, but he tries to be one.


Social and historical context




A third aspect of Munro's storytelling is her incorporation of social and historical context into her stories. She does not write in a vacuum, but rather in relation to the time and place where her stories are set. She reflects on the issues and challenges that affect her characters and their society, such as gender roles, class differences, cultural values, and political events. For example, Wild Swans is set in the late 1960s or early 1970s, a period of social change and turmoil in Canada and around the world. The story touches on topics such as feminism, sexuality, education, immigration, urbanization, and globalization. Rose represents a new generation of women who have more opportunities and choices than their mothers or grandmothers, but who also face more pressures and expectations from their husbands or families. The doctor represents an old generation of men who have more power and privilege than their wives or daughters, but who also feel threatened by the changing times and norms.


Literary devices and techniques




and humor to create vivid and memorable scenes and characters. For example, she uses the image of wild swans as a symbol of Rose's desire for freedom and beauty, but also as a symbol of the doctor's deception and danger. She uses irony to show how Rose's expectations and reality are often different and disappointing, such as when she hopes to have a romantic encounter with the doctor but ends up being drugged and assaulted by him. She uses foreshadowing to hint at what will happen later in the story, such as when Flo tells Rose stories about wild swans and doctors that parallel Rose's experience on the train. She uses humor to lighten the mood and tone of the story, such as when she describes the doctor's appearance and behavior in a sarcastic and mocking way.


Conclusion




Restate thesis statement




In conclusion, Wild Swans is a brilliant example of Munro's skillful storytelling that explores the themes of identity, memory, illusion, and power through the use of realistic details, multiple perspectives, symbolic imagery, and ironic twists.


Summarize main points




The story follows Rose as she travels by train from Toronto to Vancouver to visit her father. On the train, she meets a man who claims to be a doctor and who offers her a drink that makes her hallucinate and tries to take advantage of her. The story also shifts to the past, when Rose was a child living with Flo, her stepmother. The story reveals different aspects of Rose's personality and history, as well as the social and historical context of her time and place.


Provide personal opinion and recommendation




Personally, I think that Wild Swans is a fascinating and engaging story that keeps the reader hooked from the beginning to the end. I think that Munro is a master of the short story genre, and that she knows how to create realistic and complex characters who have distinct personalities and motivations. I also think that Munro is a keen observer of human nature and society, and that she reflects on the issues and challenges that affect her characters and their world. I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys reading short stories that are well-written, meaningful, and thought-provoking.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about Wild Swans:


  • Q: What is the significance of the title Wild Swans? A: The title Wild Swans refers to the image of wild swans that appears several times in the story. The image symbolizes Rose's desire for freedom and beauty, but also the doctor's deception and danger. The image also connects to Flo's stories about wild swans that can turn into humans or vice versa.



  • Q: What is the genre of Wild Swans? A: The genre of Wild Swans is realistic fiction. The story is set in a realistic time and place, and it depicts realistic events and characters. However, the story also has elements of fantasy and mystery, such as when Rose hallucinates and sees visions of wild swans.



  • Q: What is the tone of Wild Swans? A: The tone of Wild Swans is mixed. The story has moments of humor and sarcasm, such as when Munro describes the doctor's appearance and behavior. The story also has moments of suspense and horror, such as when Rose realizes that she has been drugged by the doctor. The story also has moments of sadness and pity, such as when Rose meets her father at the station.



  • Q: What is the message of Wild Swans? A: The message of Wild Swans is that appearance can be deceiving, and that reality can be distorted by memory and illusion. The story shows how Rose is deceived by the doctor who pretends to be someone else, and how she is affected by her memories of Flo who taught her about life. The story also shows how Rose's perception of reality changes as she is drugged by the doctor and as she recalls Flo's stories.



  • Q: How does Munro use symbolism in Wild Swans? and flowers to represent different aspects of Rose's personality and history, as well as the themes of identity, memory, illusion, and power.



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