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Day of the Butterfly By Alice Munro

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Analysis By: Christine Tremblay

Blue morpho butterfly

Day of the Butterfly by: Alice Munro

Plot

Myra, a girl in the sixth grade who does not socialize much with her peers, spends much of her time looking after her little brother Jimmy. The school they go to has gender separate yards during recess so instead of socializing with her peer she spends her play time simply sitting in the neutral zone with her brother on a little bench.  One day Miss Darling, a teacher at their school, asked the girls of the sixth grade why Myra is never included in their activities during their break, and states that the girls “ought to try to be nicer to her.”

After that incident the girls of the sixth grade started poking fun at her, and began being anything but nice to sweet little Myra. Although one day Helen, the character whose point of view the story is shared from, had the urge to reach out to Myra on her walk to school. That had been the first time any one from their school had ever gone out of their way to be nice to Myra. Helen shared her Cracker Jack with her, and as they were munching, Myra found a prize in the box. Helen insisted "finders keepers" and told Myra to keep the butterfly brooch she found in the box.

The day after, Myra was nowhere to be found. She had not shown up to school that day, or that week, or the week that followed. It turned out that Myra was in the hospital sick with an illness. The class decided to throw an early birthday party for Myra, where she received many gifts from all of the girls in her class, even from the ones who used to tease her.

As visiting hours came to an end, all of the girls left the room. As Helen was just about to leave, Myra called her name, and when no one was looking Myra generously passed Helen a leatherette case with a mirror in it, a comb, a nail file, as well as a neutral lipstick, and a small handkerchief edge with gold thread. She insisted she keep it in return for giving her the brooch found in the Cracker Jack a few weeks back.

Myra had explained that she must go to London for treatment but told Helen that when she returns that she intends on inviting her over to play.

Theme

The theme of “The Day of The Butterfly” by Alice Munroe is that we don’t always care about people until they are sick or dead.

We see this all the time in our society, especial with teens, where they are bullied to the point that they cannot bare it any longer, and believe that ending their lives are the only solution. And we often see that once they have died we all talk about how they were such amazing people and could have amounted to so much, and that they were loved, when in reality we never tell people that often enough when they are still around, nor do we always treat them with the respect they truly deserve.

The same thing happened to Myra in this story, seeing as how she was being bullied/ made fun of, but when it was learned that she had an illness people started to treat her differently, and began to reach out and buy her gifts.

Setting

The story mainly takes place at school either in the school yard, in the class room, and on the way to school, although nearing the end in takes place in Myra’s hospital room. 

Characters

Myra : Is an awkward looking girl with clothes too big for her size. She does not have the same care free attitude as most of the children her own age. She is rather shy and does not fit in or socialize much with people her own age. She does not derive from a very wealthy family. She is responsible for her brother Jimmy which holds her back from having more age appropriate experiences.

Helen: Is a mildly insecure girl from which the stories point of view is shared from, and is the one who makes an effort to be friendly with Myra.

Gladys Healey: is the ‘class leader’ who is the first to makes jokes about Myra, and is a well-dressed individual who probably comes from a wealthy family.

Teacher: Although she is a part of the efforts to get Myra included, her good will backfires and ends up having a negative effect. She also represents the role of a teacher who is trying to look out for her students and resolve problems in the classroom. 

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