Contradictory Aspects of the Formation of Womanhood in Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women

  • Spandita Das


Del Jordan, the heroine of the titled novel, is one of Alice Munro’s brands of heroines who are progressive but whose identities are determined within heterosexual love relationships. This paper explores several problematic aspects of the womanhood Del develops. First, as a woman suffering at the hands of men she becomes an ‘Other’, at the end of the plot, gradually dislodged from the pivot of her ‘self’. Next, this trajectory from childhood into her adulthood, as the interpolation of the adult consciousness suggests, incorporates many self-conscious moments when she is critically aware of her putative feminization or marginalization and resists men’s power, albeit quite secretively. These moments effectively inscribe the fiction she plans to compose. The other face of this fictional self is her progressive ‘Real Self’ that sets out for the city. These oppositional positions make way into the construction of a heroine who is critical of the gender hierarchy but is unable to transcend her circumscribed position. These same dual impulses underpin the matured narrator’s aesthetic formulation that helps her to foreground the heroine’s self-affirmation in the face of all negativities and thus, restores her power.
Keywords: Alice Munro’s heroines, womanhood and gender struggle, female Bildungsroman, feminine writing, Lives of Girls and Women.


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Author Biography

Spandita Das

Spandita Das is pursuing Post Graduate at the Department of English, School of Humanities, University of Hyderabad (Central University), Prof. C. P. Rao Road, Hyderabad – 500046. She is a UGC NET JRF qualifier.


1. Beer, Janet. ‘Short Fiction with Attitude: Lives of Boys and Men in Lives of Girls and Women’. Edited by Harold Bloom, Bloom’s Modern Critical Views: Alice Munro, Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2009, pp. 143-51.
2. Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routledge, UK, 1991.
3. Heble, Ajay. ‘So Many Created Worlds’. The Tumble of Reason: Alice Munro’s Discourse of Absence, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1994, pp. 43-73.
4. Hooper, Brad. The Fiction of Alice Munro: An Appreciation. Greenwood Publishing House, Praeger Publishers, Westport, Connecticut, 2008, pp. 17-32.
5. Nobelsamtal med Alice Munro: Alice Munro, In Her Own Words. Interviewed by Stefan Asberg, Canada, 2013, November 12 and 13.
6. Munro, Alice. Lives of Girls and Women, Vintage Books, London, 2015.
How to Cite
Das, S. “Contradictory Aspects of the Formation of Womanhood in Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women”. Contemporary Literary Review India, Vol. 7, no. 2, May 2020, pp. 70-91,
Research Papers