‘Night’ tells the story of a young woman who went to the doctor for an appendectomy. She fears that is is a growth that might be cancer. However, because it is reflective, we know that the outcome was positive. She discusses the freedom that occurred and she looks at her sister. She then walks straight out of the room and to outside, where she sees her father. He says something that suggests gives Alice the ability to sleep as an adult, even with all the difficulties that can be encountered.
‘Night’ is the longest extract in the Anthology. It is a part of a series called ‘Finale’ and forms the second of four parts.
Alice Munro is a famous short story writer, from Canada. This is reflected in her writing, as she is knowledgeable about life in rural Canada. She has won many awards, including the ‘Nobel Prize’.
Alice Munro is famous for intertwining fact with fiction and many of her stories are semi-autobiographical (partly based in truth and about herself). ‘Night’ is based partly around her own childhood and how her fears were created. As a child, she was ill. It is extremely difficult for the reader to determine fact from fiction, making her stories highly effective.
Fact or fiction?
It is extremely difficult to judge where the factual elements of the story are and where the poetic, fictional license begins.
Munro builds a sense of fear throughout the short story, through many different linguistic devices. Her use of short sentences, description (of night wanderings and use of adjectives) and use of repetition create a sense that something is looming and she is fearful of recurring situations.
Direct and indirect speech
‘Go to the cinema’, said Mum.
Mum told me to go to the cinema.
In direct speech, speech marks are used to quote the exact words that ‘Mum’ has said. In indirect speech, there are no speech marks, as you are paraphrasing another person.
It is interesting how Munro uses both direct and indirect speech; although she is telling the narrative from her own point of view, it almost appears as though she cannot remember the exact words that she was told about a part of the story.
Munro uses__ short, simple sentences__ for impact:
‘I was not myself.
I had been hearing that said of people now and then, all my life, without thinking what it could mean.
So who do you think you are, then?
I had been hearing that too, without attaching to it any real menace, just taking it as a sort of routine jeering.
She places the rhetorical question on its on and it is a much deeper question that something that simply relates to our narrator. She is forcing the reader to reflect upon their own life
Munroe uses memory to help create her structure. She is reflective of a time that was challenging in her life.
Within the exam, you will be asked to compare one text to another of your choice. Here are 3 example essays that you could practice. You must consider the use of language and structure in your answer:
Compare the sense of freedom in ‘Night’’ to another text of your choice.
Compare the sense of memory in ‘’Night’ to another text of your choice.
How is fear presented in ‘Night’? Compare it to a text of your choice.
- What does semi-autobiographical mean?
- How are rhetorical questions used in ‘Night’’?
- What is indirect and direct speech and how is it used in ‘Night’?