“An Ounce of Cure” By Alice Munro In the story “An Ounce of Cure” By Alice Munro, the narrator is unnamed and speaks in first person. The story follows the life of a teenage girl going through a “mid-life” teenage crisis. The setting is a very conservative southern town in the 1960’s, where it is considered taboo to consume alcohol. Almost nobody consumed alcohol in the teen’s town. The narrator signed an abstinence pledge in the seventh grade. As for her parents, her father would drink a beer on a hot day, which he consumed out of sight. Her mother never drinks alcohol. Her mother wanted her daughter to remain innocent and believes the outside world is dangerous. The narrator is a responsible young lady who likes to gossip. She earns money by babysitting around town and is labeled as “the responsible babysitter”. She is like most other teenage girl in her town. Then, the narrator meets a boy named Martin Collingwood at a drama club sponsored by her school. Martin was her Prince Charming, and she falls in love with the young man. She receives a memorable first kiss, and she does not wash her face for days after the joyful incident. Unfortunately, two months later Martin dumps her for another girl in drama club.
The girl is left with an emotional bruise on her heart. She started weeps for Martin, spending hours thinking about the boy. She then re-enacts in her head over and over again. She then becomes severely depressed. One night she plans to swallow all the aspirin in the bathroom cabinet, but stops at the sixth pill. Each pill represents each stage in her life: sorrow, anguish, depression, heartbreak, confusion and frustration. Her mother notices that something is wrong with her daughter. She asks if everything was going all right at school and her daughter She says “Martin and I had broken up and all”. Her mother tells her the break up is for the best.
The narrator has to babysit for the Berrymans one Saturday. While there, looks for a can of soda in the kitchen. She spots a half ounce of alcohol that she described as a “half ounce of gold”. To her, the alcohol is like finding hidden treasure . It symbolizes breaking away from the norm, and easing her heartbreak. She then becomes drunk. Even though her actions based upon human curiosity, however the result of it was reckless. The Berrymans find her drunk and she fired on the spot and has a reputation now of an “irresponsible baby sitter” who is also suicidal and drunk. Kay, who is a mutual friend, hands her a cup of coffee, which symbolizes being awake, a new beginning, and a fresh start in the morning. She then realizes that what she has done in the past few days has been a mistake. Many teenagers today tend to exaggerate their tragedies; making a mountain out of a molehill. She felt it was childish to even think about taking her own life over a silly boy. The theme of this story is self acceptance. Even though we have problems in the present, we must move on with our lives, and make good choices for the future. Another conflict in this story is “Man vs. Society.” The setting of the town is very conservative and judgmental. The narrator is battling against society because of the idealized reputation that the town had given her. The narrator is dynamic; she changed dramatically from the beginning to the end. She went from being a naive teenage girl to a mature young lady who took responsibility for her actions. The narrator does get updates on Martin, but she does not meet him face to face. She is not bothered by him anymore. She grows up, physically and emotionally. Many of us can relate to this particular story because we all have experienced a situation where, at the moment, we can only look at the problem from one angle. When we look at problems from a bigger picture, a broader perspective; realize that problems are only temporary. We also hear the phrase “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” The narrator’s problem was temporary; it could be solved, and it has been solved. The narrator learned from her mistake and now has a brighter future.