The Bear Came Over the Mountain

by

Alice Munro

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Fiona’s Hair Symbol Analysis

Fiona’s Hair Symbol Icon

Fiona’s hair is a symbol of her identity and individuality, at least in Grant’s eyes. Fiona inherits her trademark hair from her mother, which fades as she ages from light blonde to white, and which both women wear long, against Canadian middle-class cultural norms of their time. Fiona’s mother, notable for her Icelandic nationality, leftist politics, and outspokenness, is alarmingly to “practical” women such as Grant’s mother for her nonconformist behavior and foreign attitudes—both of which are exemplified by her hair. Fiona, while quite different from her mother, similarly stands out from the majority of women that Grant knows. Far from being emotional and practical, Fiona is whimsical and ironic; she dresses in stylish attire that sets her apart from the more sexualized appearances of other women in the story, such as Jacqui Adams, Kristy the nurse, and Marian, Aubrey’s wife. Fiona’s loss of her individuality and sense of self while at Meadowlake is represented, for Grant, by the cutting of her hair by the staff and her own disregard for this change. Compared to the previous fastidiousness with which Fiona tended to her appearance, the fact that Fiona doesn’t even notice her haircut at first indicates an abrupt break with her former self.

Fiona’s Hair Quotes in The Bear Came Over the Mountain

The The Bear Came Over the Mountain quotes below all refer to the symbol of Fiona’s Hair. 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

Her hair, which was as light as milkweed fluff, had gone from pale blond to white somehow without Grant’s noticing exactly when, and she still wore it down to her shoulders, as her mother had done. (That was the thing that had alarmed Grant’s own mother, a small-town widow who worked as a doctor’s receptionist. The long white hair on Fiona’s mother, even more than the state of the house, had told her all she needed to know about attitudes and politics.)

Related Characters: Grant, Fiona, Fiona’s Mother, Grant’s Mother
Related Symbols: Fiona’s Hair
Page Number: 268
Explanation and Analysis:

She was wearing a silly wool hat and a jacket with swirls of blue and purple, the sort of thing he had seen on local women at the supermarket.

The fact must be that they didn’t bother to sort out the wardrobes of the women who were roughly the same size. And counted on the women not to recognize their own clothes anyway.

They had cut her hair, too. They had cut away her angelic halo. On a Wednesday, when everything was more normal [...] and when Aubrey and Fiona were again in evidence, so that it was possible for Grant to have one of his brief and friendly and maddening conversations with his wife, he said to her, “Why did they chop off your hair?”

Fiona put her hands up to her head, to check.

“Why—I never missed it,” she said.

Related Characters: Grant (speaker), Fiona (speaker), Aubrey
Related Symbols: Fiona’s Hair
Page Number: 287-288
Explanation and Analysis:

“I’m happy to see you,” she said, and pulled his earlobes.

“You could have just driven away,” she said. “Just driven away without a care in the world and forsook me. Forsooken me. Forsaken.”

He kept his face against her white hair, her pink scalp, her sweetly shaped skull. He said, “Not a chance.”

Related Characters: Grant (speaker), Fiona (speaker)
Related Symbols: Fiona’s Hair
Page Number: 308
Explanation and Analysis:
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Fiona’s Hair Symbol Timeline in The Bear Came Over the Mountain

The timeline below shows where the symbol Fiona’s Hair 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
Class, Practicality, and Humor Theme Icon
...the time.” Grant admires Fiona’s tasteful and stylish outfit, while also observing her long white hair, which she wears in the same style as Fiona’s mother, and remembers how this had... (full context)
Memory, Aging, and Identity Theme Icon
Class, Practicality, and Humor Theme Icon
...to Grant, however, is the fact that the staff have cut off Fiona’s trademark long hair. When he asks her about the haircut, Fiona remarks with surprise, stating that she did... (full context)