An Ounce of Cure by Alice Munro: Themes & Literary Devices

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Fits by Alice Munro: Summary & Analysis

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Memories in ''An Ounce…
  • 0:41 Major Themes in ''An…
  • 2:27 Literary Devices
  • 3:35 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Damon Barta

Damon has taught college English and has an MA in literature.

This lesson will identify some major themes in the short story 'An Ounce of Cure' by Nobel Prize-winning author Alice Munro and examine how Munro uses literary devices to develop these themes.

Memories in ''An Ounce of Cure''

Can you remember an embarrassing incident from high school? Many of us have a story about one. Alice Munro's reminds us that the painful moments of our pasts don't always stay in the past.

''An Ounce of Cure'' is narrated by an unnamed adult woman recalling her high school days in a small town. She tells of her first unrequited love affair with a local boy and her terrible first experience with alcohol that ensued. We learn that she's lived in this same town throughout much of her life, but she was not moved to recall her catastrophe while babysitting for the Berrymans until she exchanges a glance, many years later, with her first love at a funeral.

Major Themes in ''An Ounce of Cure''

Coming of age is one major theme in Munro's story. Like much of Alice Munro's fiction, ''An Ounce of Cure'' relates a movement from innocence to experience in a young girl's life. The narrator discovers the pain of unrequited love, the judgment of others, and the consequences of naivete, but she becomes savvier adult in the process.

Another theme is the constraints of small town life. Munro explores some of the confining features of small town living. These include dissatisfaction with limits, and the effects of rumor and reputation among a small group of isolated people. For example, the Berrymans come to the town for employment, but feel the need to travel to a ''bigger, livelier'' city to enjoy themselves. Also, the narrator's babysitting career is destroyed by the widespread knowledge of her incident at the Berrymans and she has the ''most sinful reputation in the whole high school'' until someone commits a greater scandal.

Munro's story also demonstrates the theme of imagination versus reality. This difference between imagined expectations and real life is perhaps the most compelling theme in the story. The narrator grows up imagining life as a kind of scripted performance until she discovers that ''the plots of life'' are ''improvised,'' unlike the ''fictions'' she has grown up with.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account