Alice Munro

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Runaway can help.
Themes and Colors
Attachment, Maturity, and Stability Theme Icon
Relationships and Control Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
Independence and Freedom Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Runaway, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Attachment, Maturity, and Stability

The attachments that various characters have to each other in “Runaway” are correlated to their respective levels of maturity and stability. Most significant is Carla’s attachment to her husband, Clark—an attachment she feels even though they don’t have a particularly loving relationship. Carla is young, around 21 years old, and the story portrays her as immature even for her age. She is unstable: easily affected by others and quick to change her mind…

read analysis of Attachment, Maturity, and Stability

Relationships and Control

“Runaway” depicts Clark as an abusive partner to Carla and illustrates the challenges she faces as she feels stuck in the relationship. Clark has complete authority over their relationship and Carla’s life, and he does not care for her emotional needs. He forces her to go to the Jamieson’s house when she doesn’t want to, and he doesn’t seem at all concerned when he thinks Carla is being sexually abused. Carla generally feels powerless, and…

read analysis of Relationships and Control


The word “runaway” in its most literal sense refers to escape. Each main character in the story makes an attempt to escape their respective pasts and problems, but to limited avail. Carla is a runaway in that she leaves her parents, hometown, and future plans of college in the hopes of attaining a more “authentic” life. This doesn’t pan out for her, as she ends up unhappy in her new life. She’s a runaway again…

read analysis of Escape
Get the entire Runaway LitChart as a printable PDF.
Runaway PDF

Independence and Freedom

When Carla initially runs away from her family, she seeks a life away from their expectations so that she can live as she pleases. Her affluent mother and stepfather want her to go to college, but all Carla wants is to live and work among nature and animals. Though she initially agrees to go to college to be a veterinarian, her parents’ expectations repel her. When they express their dislike of Clark due to his…

read analysis of Independence and Freedom