Verbal family stories are passed down through generations, hoping to teach the listener valuable lessons that can be learned from it. “And nobody said anything more about it to me, not ever. That was the way they did in those days. They thought if they didn’t let on about something, maybe it wouldn’t have happened.
” (789). In the chapter “Family Stories”, it brings forth the importance of storytelling. Steven J. Zeitlin, Amy J. Kotkin, and Holly Cutting Baker emphasize how these stories are subject to change due to several variables that take part in that. Canfield conveys the theme that Aunt Minnie changes from a victim to a culprit, primarily due to cultural changes throughout time which as a result influenced her perception of an experience of when she was an adolescent girl. Cultural allusions have the ability to make individuals think and feel a certain way towards things in specific.
As a child, aunt Minnie was constantly told by her cousin Ella that men only sought women for unpleasant matters. Being constantly told this by someone who she viewed as trustworthy made her believe such broad belief about men as a whole. In the text, Aunt Minnie stated “‘There are plenty of men in this town that wouldn’t like anything better than—’ I didn’t know, not really, what she meant. But I knew she meant something horrible.”(785). This quote exemplifies aunt Minnie implying that men are bound to commit horrendous actions.
As time progressed, cultural perception changed in the eyes Aunt Minnie as she no longer blamed man for the tragic incident that occurred, but blamed herself for it. Aunt Minnie stated, “I know now that I had been, all along, kind of interested in him, the way any girl as old as I was would be, in any youngish man living in the same house with her.” (790). Aunt Minnie goes on to believe that maybe the reason she flung herself to the minister was because she thought what wouldn’t be interested in a young man like the minister.
This very notion that was created lead to the story Aunt Minnie was feeling differents emotions towards. Elements of plot demonstrate this change in perception as it displays how as the story continues, Aunt Minnie’s feelings start to change as well. In the initial part of the story, Aunt Minnie gets rattled up as soon as she finds out the girls wanted to sleep out in the wood, as if she knew something terrible would happen to them. She did not tell them what to do if every in a situation in the woods, but simply gave them the demand not to. “”Let’s take blankets and sleep out there. It’d be fun.
” “No.” Aunt Minnie broke in sharply, “you mustn’t do that.””(783). She did not realize it at the moment, but Aunt Minnie should have explained to them what to do if ever lost.
Later on in the future, Aunt Minnie recalled the story, and thought to herself that if only someone would have taught her what to do when lost in the wood, what occured with the minister would have not. If only she would have been calm enough to analyze the situation, she would have found her way back, rather than focusing on the bad image her cousin had placed on men. Aunt Minnie stated, “That was the way they brought up young people in those days, scaring them out of their wits about the awfulness of getting lost, but not telling them a thing about how not to get lost. Or how to act, if they did.” She implies that in a way, it is the fault of those who did not teach her what to do when lost.
They are to be blamed for such incident as that could have all been prevented with simple knowledge on how not to get lost. Once telling the story one last time, Aunt Minnie’s perception changes once again, this time being completely opposite from her initial perception. She began to feel sorrow towards the minister, as she felt like he was never loved after his accident with his face. She tried to make him seem not so harmful in the end, taking pity upon the depression she believed him to have. Aunt Minnie stated, “Poor man!” (791). This short yet effective statement truly displays that cultural perception changes over time because her feelings about the incident and who to blame for it were greatly altered.Characterization change has affected Aunt Minnie through the events of her assault and her own son running away as she differently evaluated the situation.
Action in characterization played a role in her evaluating the situation different over time. At first, her actions were not taken into consideration as to why the minister acted as he did. Aunt Minnie stated, “He had torn my dress right down to the waist before I—then I did scream—all I could—and pulled away from him so hard I almost fell down, and ran and all of a sudden I came out of the corn, right in the backyard of the Fairchild house” As she was saying this, Aunt Minnie felt disgusted to have to remember such atrocity, still not questioning if the minister was fully to blame for. She had her belief set on the perception that all men are predators like her cousin had told her and that is why the minister acted as he did. On the third time of telling the story, she takes into account that it was possibly her actions that lead the minister to believe she desired some sort of confrontation with him.
Aunt Minnie then stated, “I know how I must have looked, all red and hot and my hair down and my dress torn open. And, used as he was to big cornfields, he probably never dreamed that the reason I looked that way was because I was scared to be by myself in one. He may have thought—you know what he may have thought.” (791). During this storytelling, she recognizes that more variables played a role in what occurred that day. She was now taking into account the randomness of her throwing herself upon the minister and her physical appearance as she already had parts of the dress ripped, as well as her red face she had from panicking through the fields. She questioned if maybe it appeared as if she were coming onto the minister.
If so, she would have believed it was completely her fault for making the minister misinterpret her cry for help for something unpleasing.There existed a large time gap between the first time aunt Minnie told the story an the last time. As her feelings about the story changed from beginning to end, it can be implied that cultural preferences change as well as traditions and views on society are subject to change. The theme is emphasized as Aunt Minnie changes from a victim to a culprit, primarily due to cultural changes throughout time which as a result completely altered her perception of an experience of when she was an adolescent girl.