The Bear Came Over the Mountain

by

Alice Munro

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Drapes Symbol Icon

Drapes in the story symbolize the class difference between its two couples—Grant and Fiona vs. Aubrey and Marian. More specifically, they are representative of the difference between Fiona’s upper-class background and her corresponding taste, and the middle-class kitsch and practicalities that she and Grant look down on. When Grant walks into Marian and Aubrey’s house for the first time, he notices the painstaking attention with which the interior has been decorated and takes particular notice of “two layers of front-window curtains, both blue, one sheer and one silky.” Pondering these, he thinks, “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 funny stuff into such a small space.” This establishes that Fiona would look down upon Marian’s decorating style from her own position of privilege; as a member of the upper-crust, Fiona considers her own taste the definition of chicness and exhibits a flippant sense of elitism.

Later on, after Marian calls Grant and asks him to a single’s dance, Grant recollects that the word for such curtains—“drapes”—and thinks, in response to Marian’s request, “why not?” He feels a “twinge of bizarre and unreliable affection” thinking about these drapes, which he attributes either to the fact that Marian’s household reminds him of Grant’s own mother—who was notably of a lower class than Fiona—or to the fact that he is somewhat inebriated. It’s clear that while Grant is grateful to Fiona for enabling him to live a more vibrant life than he could have otherwise, he nonetheless feels a sympathetic pull towards the emblems of his small town childhood.

Drapes Quotes in The Bear Came Over the Mountain

The The Bear Came Over the Mountain quotes below all refer to the symbol of Drapes. 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:
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Drapes Symbol Timeline in The Bear Came Over the Mountain

The timeline below shows where the symbol Drapes 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
Class, Practicality, and Humor Theme Icon
...interior design, preferring simpler and bright rooms; in particular she had a joking “word for those sort of swooping curtains .” (full context)
Love, Fidelity, and Marriage Theme Icon
Gender and Power Theme Icon
Class, Practicality, and Humor Theme Icon
...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 a ceramic tree, thinking that Grant’s... (full context)