Dimensions by Alice Munro Paper
“Dimensions” by Alice Munro is a tragic story that talks about self discovery and the courage to start all over again. Doree is a woman who has been broken in every way, but refuses to give her right to continue to live. The story describes Doree’s psychological and emotional metamorphosis from an innocent young girl who has to face many difficulties to become a woman. All the circumstances that she goes through helps her mature, think more critically, and find the strength to pursue the happiness that she yearned. Doree was sixteen when her mother died of an embolism; and was sheltered, to a certain point, by Lloyd.
Doree was a girl who had to leave her adolescence behind at an early age to become a wife/mother/woman and due to her lack of experience in all aspects, she had to depend on her husband, Lloyd. During their whole marriage Doree was isolated from others; having no social skills due to her lack of interaction, she could not establish a bond with any other person strong enough to overcome her need for Lloyd: “It was Lloyd and Doree and their family that mattered…the bond was not something that anybody else could understand”(Munro,6).
At that exact moment in her life, she found in Lloyd the love that she desperately needed; especially after the lost of her mother she felt helpless. Lloyd represented a father figure for Doree; he replaced the family that she had lost to become part of a new one. Throughout the story Doree always acts tactfully and diplomatic, seeking not to provoke Lloyd’s temper, on the other hand, she started questioning his reasoning and behavior that was inappropriate sometimes.
Doree’s way of seeing and analyzing life was changing from a child mind to a more mature one, as if someone remove the eye bandage from her: “he was still the closest person in the world to her, and she felt that everything would collapse if she were to bring herself to tell someone exactly how he was” (Munro, 7). Doree describes Lloyd as a good husband, who as any other person also has defects; she further mentioned that she was happy in her relationship no matter the “minor” altercations that occurred between them.
She deeply inside knew that her husband acted in a way that he could only understand; in other circumstances it wouldn’t be seen as normal. The couple had 3 children: Sasha, Barbara Ann and Dimitri; Doree had finally formed a family of her own. This was a new experience and challenge for her, as she was responsible for the care of her children. Being a parent wasn’t easy, and of course all children are not the same; for the first time Doree had to hide something from Lloyd:“Little did she know that Doree had been giving him a supplement already” ( Munro, 4).
Although she had fear of what Lloyd could think or say, she followed her maternal instinct; what she cared the most was her child’s health and nutrition. Doree was controlled by Lloyd in all possible ways, but when it was about the children and what was best for them, she had to become a mother and be capable to take care of them; she was growing emotionally and psychologically into a woman. When it came to the educational field, Lloyd decided that their children should be educated at home: “I mean they are our kids, not the department of Education’s kids” (Munro,5).
Doree wasn’t so sure that she could handle this kind of responsibility; being a mom was hard enough and now also having to teach the children, but it turned out that the department of education had guidelines and lessons plans which guide her through the process. She knew that sooner or later the children will need a higher education level if they wanted to pursue a career, and it was better to make sure that she was aware of current updated status in the educational department; despite of Lloyd’s warning, she decided to pick up the school exercises and return them as soon as the children finished them.
This example illustrates Doree’s determination to do what she thought it was best for her children’s benefit; she acted with responsibility and courage because she went against Lloyd ideology. Maggie was Doree’s friend who also did homeschooling; she was an independent woman with a career and a different perspective of life. Doree saw in her a total different woman from what she was; Lloyd did not like the idea of Doree hanging out with Maggie, he saw her as a threat for their relationship: “she is out to break us up….
I’ve got experience of her kind of woman”(Munro,6). He wanted Doree under his control, for her to be isolated from the real world, where he could control and manipulate her. Doree knew that a woman like Maggie did not pretend to break them up, it was only Lloyd’s imagination, he wanted to create this world where anyone that did not fit his criteria was consider to be an enemy or a threat. The hardest situation that Doree had to go through was when Lloyd, her beloved husband, murdered the children and made her responsible for such monstrous event.
For her, Lloyd is the only connection she has left to her children and to that unspeakable accident. Even now that she started a new life, away from all memories and connections; she was still not able to talk about the children or even think about them before Lloyd’s letter: “But they do exist and it must be that there is another Dimension… what I know is that I have access to whatever one they are” (Munro, 11).
It may have been something of a release or a sense of comfort for her what drew her back to Lloyd, not “returning” to him as wife to husband, but as to the only person she thought could understand her anguish (even though he caused it), to whom she wouldn’t have to explain what had happened or hide from what he might think of her for “allowing” it to happen, and could help her keep the memories of her children alive. Not forgiveness or even love, just that connection that she doesn’t have with anyone else.
On her way to visit him one evening on the bus, Doree witnesses a car accident and attempts CPR on the victim. Through the CPR she can feel life return to the young boy who is unconscious and almost dying: “It was a true breath. The airway was open… He was breading”9(Munro, 13). She did not only save the boy’s life but also hers. At some extension she felt that by saving the boy’s life, she could have been saving her children; in a way she forgave herself for not being there for her children when they needed her the most.
Doree was the woman who could have done the unthinkable, even go back to Lloyd after all the pain that he had caused her. She lost her whole family : mother, husband and children, but she never gave up her hope and desire to keep living. Now she is a different person, more mature and with experience of life . She needs to forgive herself, to understand that it was not her fault, to heal all her wounds so she could begin a new chapter in her life and find happiness.