The Bear Came Over the Mountain

by

Alice Munro

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Marian Character Analysis

Marian is Aubrey’s wife. Grant first sees her unfolding a wheelchair in the Meadowlake parking lot after her return from a vacation in Florida, readying herself to take Aubrey back home. Grant describes Marian as curvy, with the look of a small-town flirt. Marian does not have much contact with her and Aubrey’s only son, and is Aubrey’s main caretaker after his illness, predominately for practical financial reasons. She treats her house, in a lower-middle class neighborhood, with loving and fastidious attention, filling the house with accessories, matching décor, and appliances. Grant takes particular notice of the drapes in her home, thinking that Fiona would likely poke fun at them. Marian is at first hesitant to allow continued visits between Aubrey and Fiona, but the story’s ending reveals that she eventually relents; it also implies that Grant begins to date Marian as a means to ensure Fiona can continue seeing Aubrey.

Marian Quotes in The Bear Came Over the Mountain

The The Bear Came Over the Mountain quotes below are all either spoken by Marian or refer to Marian. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love, Fidelity, and Marriage Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Random House edition of The Bear Came Over the Mountain published in 2014.
The Bear Came Over the Mountain Quotes

Grant caught sight of two layers of front-window curtains, both blue, one sheer and one silky, a matching blue sofa and a daunting pale carpet, various bright mirrors and ornaments.

Fiona had a word for those sort of swooping curtains—she said it like a joke, though the women she’d picked it up from used it seriously. Any room that Fiona fixed up was bare and bright—she would have deplored the crowding of all this fancy stuff into such a small space.

Related Characters: Grant, Fiona, Marian
Related Symbols: Drapes
Page Number: 298
Explanation and Analysis:

His uncles, his relatives, probably even his mother, had thought the way Marian thought. They had believed that when other people did not think that way it was because they were kidding themselves—they had got too airy-fairy, or stupid, on account of their easy and protected lives or their education. They had lost touch with reality. Educated people, literary people, some rich people like Grant’s socialist in-laws had lost touch with reality. Due to an unmerited good fortune or an innate silliness. In Grant’s case, he suspected, they pretty well believed it was both.

That was how Marian would see him, certainly. A silly person, full of boring knowledge and protected by some fluke from the truth about life [...]

He might have married her. Think of it. He might have married some girl like that. If he’d stayed back where he belonged.

Related Characters: Grant, Fiona, Marian, Grant’s Mother
Page Number: 304
Explanation and Analysis:
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Marian Character Timeline in The Bear Came Over the Mountain

The timeline below shows where the character Marian appears in The Bear Came Over the Mountain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Bear Came Over the Mountain
Love, Fidelity, and Marriage Theme Icon
Memory, Aging, and Identity Theme Icon
...and Aubrey distracted and distressed, however, as Aubrey is leaving Meadowlake to go home, as Aubrey’s wife has returned from her vacation in Florida. Fiona comforts Aubrey, who is crying, using affectionate... (full context)
Love, Fidelity, and Marriage Theme Icon
Memory, Aging, and Identity Theme Icon
...or moving her to a more intensive care section of Meadowlake, Grant decides to visit Aubrey’s wife and see if he can negotiate a visit. (full context)
Gender and Power Theme Icon
Class, Practicality, and Humor Theme Icon
...there, though some houses are more run down. Aubrey’s house, though, is well-kept. Aubrey’s wife, Marian, assumes that Grant is there with a grievance about Aubrey and Fiona’s relationship, and treats... (full context)
Class, Practicality, and Humor Theme Icon
Grant notices the care that Marian has taken with the home, conveyed by the living room’s curtains, matching sofa and carpet,... (full context)
Class, Practicality, and Humor Theme Icon
Grant and Marian share a cup of coffee in the kitchen. Grant compliments the coffeemaker, seeking a point... (full context)
Love, Fidelity, and Marriage Theme Icon
Grant uses this topic to try and steer the conversation towards Fiona, asking if Marian wouldn’t mind bringing Aubrey back to Meadowlake to visit her. He also offers to provide... (full context)
Love, Fidelity, and Marriage Theme Icon
Memory, Aging, and Identity Theme Icon
Gender and Power Theme Icon
Marian serves him homemade ginger cookies while Grant poses this question, then says no, stating that... (full context)
Love, Fidelity, and Marriage Theme Icon
Memory, Aging, and Identity Theme Icon
Class, Practicality, and Humor Theme Icon
Grant asks if Marian ever considered putting Aubrey in Meadowlake full-time. When Marian says no, he assumes this is... (full context)
Love, Fidelity, and Marriage Theme Icon
Class, Practicality, and Humor Theme Icon
Grant is depressed by his conversation with Marian, which reminds Grant of his mother and the small-town world in which he grew up,... (full context)
Class, Practicality, and Humor Theme Icon
Grant acknowledges that Marian must have had some hopes of a better life when she married Aubrey, with his... (full context)
Love, Fidelity, and Marriage Theme Icon
Gender and Power Theme Icon
When Grant returns home, he has two voicemails from Marian asking him to attend a singles dance with her. While she clarifies that she understands... (full context)
Love, Fidelity, and Marriage Theme Icon
Gender and Power Theme Icon
Grant continues to imagine Marian waiting for him to call, calculating the distance of his drive, before he reminds himself... (full context)
Love, Fidelity, and Marriage Theme Icon
Gender and Power Theme Icon
Class, Practicality, and Humor Theme Icon
While drinking, Grant remembers that the word for the curtains that Fiona mocked by Marian decorated her house with is “drapes.” He remembers her ginger cookies and coffee mugs on... (full context)