Response to Train by Munro

Although I might not have followed everything going on in the story right away I did enjoy Alice Munro’s story “Train”. What threw me off most in the story was the amount of time that passed between each event. As Belle tells Jackson about herself and how she came to the farm Jackson, admits that “He could almost bring himself to regret that he was moving on.” (page 130) Only a page later at the end of Belle telling a story the narrative jumps to Jackson thinking about what he has to do first to make the house more suitable. It was later when Jackson mentioned shopping in town and getting his haircut that I realized time had passed and he had already been on the farm for many years. The story jumped again when he and Belle drive to Toronto for her doctor’s appointment. This was a clear switch until he left Belle and began living in the house of Bonnie Dundee at which point I lost track of time again. When Ileane is introduced we get a flashback of Jackson’s time with her. I understood that her and Jackson had tried to make it work but it made me want to know more detail about what had happened between them. At the end of the flashback Jackson stays in the Bonnie Dundee house before leaving again.
One part I did enjoy about the jumping back and forth was how Munro had to create three strong settings; the farm, the hospital, and the Bonnie Dundee house. I felt the setting on the farm was most vivid for me with the peeling white paint, broken down henhouse, and the planks over the uneven dirt floor. My favorite part about the farm setting was the closeness to the Mennonite people, it made it seem like they were really in the middle of the country. “It chilled him. The buggy in the barn and the horse in the field were nothing in comparison.” (Page 148) Belle lives such a different life, as do the people around her that it gave me a sense of isolation which chilled me a little bit too.
Overall the story left me with a weird feeling. Even though Jackson was the main character, I didn’t connect with him or his story. I felt I connected and felt more for Belle. When Jackson left her at the hospital I was blown that he could spend so many years living on the farm with her only to leave her in a strange place. Later Munro gives a tiny paragraph to Jackson reading about Belles death in the newspaper and that’s it. The story was abrupt in the way it changed but I still enjoyed it.

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September 25th


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