The Bear Came Over the Mountain

by

Alice Munro

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Themes and Colors
Love, Fidelity, and Marriage Theme Icon
Memory, Aging, and Identity Theme Icon
Gender and Power Theme Icon
Class, Practicality, and Humor Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Bear Came Over the Mountain, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Love, Fidelity, and Marriage

In Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” an older married woman, Fiona, moves into a home for individuals with dementia. There, Fiona starts a romantic relationship with another resident, Aubrey, and seems to forget her husband, Grant, even though he regularly visits her. These events take place against the backdrop of Grant’s memories of his own affairs during his career as a university professor. Munro thus poses the…

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Memory, Aging, and Identity

Munro explores both aging and dementia throughout the story, and particularly the ways in which memories inform—or entirely create—one’s identity. After Fiona enters Meadowlake and her recollection of her husband and even herself begin to dim, the story explores whether or not individuality can be retained as one forgets their own history. The story reveals a distinct loss of self as Fiona succumbs to dementia, yet by the end of the story Munro also demonstrates…

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Gender and Power

While Grant is presented in the role of the dutiful husband throughout the story—he takes Fiona to Meadowlake, frequently visits her, and brings her gifts—he still adheres to stereotypical gender norms of the mid-twentieth century setting of the story. Contrasted with Aubrey’s wife Marian, for example, Grant never considers caring for Fiona at home; he turns the messy daily aspects of her care over to a facility and visits her with gifts such…

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Class, Practicality, and Humor

Munro contrasts Grant and Fiona’s whimsy with Aubrey and Marian’s practicality. Grant and Fiona, for example, have intellectual discussions over dinner, which they prepare together every night in the simple and colorful rooms of Fiona’s design. Marian, on the other hand, has painstakingly filled her house with cheap design elements like drapes. Their approach to caring for their spouses is also different, as Grant predominately thinks about Fiona’s (or his own) emotional…

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