Alice Munro's “Free Radicals”: A Tale of Grief, Guilt, and Survival

  • Meenakshi Shrivastava Research Scholar, School of Studies in English, Vikram University, Ujjain (MP)- India
  • Rooble Verma Associate Professor, School of Studies in English, Vikram University, Ujjain (MP)- India
Keywords: Narrative, Grief, Guilt, Survival, Human consciousness.


Life is like many coloured glass dome with innumerable shades of emotions. Several emotions remain unnoticed as they reside in dark recesses of the human psyche, even the expressed emotions have a lot that remains enclosed in the heart. Love, happiness, sadness are few that are openly expressed and recognised by the people, but emotions like Pain, grief, guilt are difficult to understand. They are disguised emotions wearing the mask of normality and indifference. A person going through some emotional pain or grief cannot be easily identified among people. These emotions stay for a longer time and affect the behaviour of the person. Alice Munro's stories' chief emotion is grief. She through her women characters exhibits various shades and degrees of grief. The characters in her stories encounter life's issues of pain and loss with stoic resignation. There is love for life at the center even when they are going through a tough phase of loss of some dear one. Alice Munro's story 'Free Radicals' is one such story with grief, guilt as prominent emotions in it; a story of an old woman recovering from illness and loss of her husband, and experiencing acute emotional pain and grief. On the surface level, she is back to her normal life and set in her new routine but deep inside her there is unbearable pain and agony which remain unexpressed. In spite of her lack of desire towards life she when unknowingly encounters a murderer desperately fights to live. The present paper is an attempt to study the way emotions of pain, grief, guilt and survival are expressed through narratives in the story 'Free Radicals'. Alice Munro 'the master of the contemporary short story ' is known for her unconventional narratives and her ability to show varied colours of women's emotions through it.