Alice Munro: Short Stories

Revisioning Childhood: Memory and the Senses in Alice Munro’s ”Walker Brothers Cowboy”

Walker Brothers Cowboy, a short story written by Alice Munro, presents the pivotal (and perhaps formative) experience of a young, unnamed, female narrator. Munroe filters the girl’s visual and olfactory-enriched memories through the present tense thoughts of a markedly matured voice, creating a nostalgic effect which foregrounds the significance of this childhood story to the narrator.

A “warm night” filled with “cracked sidewalks” and the sound of “A very quiet, washing noise on the stones of the beach” (p. 2) greet the reader; these descriptions are the substance of the narrator’s world, in Walker Brothers Cowboy. It is important that Munro creates a substantial, three-dimensional world, seen from the perspective of this young, somber girl. ‘Seen’ is indeed the key word here. The sensory effects illustrated are mainly visual, to present the reader with a lucid and inviting reality. Not only is the established setting established more solidly and made easier to enter, but also the piercing visual descriptions of the narrator reveal her pre-adolescent perspective of discovery and lucidity. Here, the narrator interprets a central theme in Munro’s writing visually:

“Children, of their own will, draw apart, separate into islands of...

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