Contrasting Interactions with the Environment Depicted in Alice Munro's The Shining Houses

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How is our character revealed through our interaction with the natural world around us? Do we adapt to fit in with nature, or do we force the landscape to conform to our ideals of lifestyle? In the short story “The Shining Houses”, Alice Munro addresses the contrast in lifestyle ideologies between two generations through their interactions with the natural environment they populate. The older generation is content to live in harmony with the existing natural world and develop its infrastructure amongst the present landscape. Meanwhile, the younger generation believes in destroying the original terrain by constructing a new environment fitted to a theme of exoticism and novelty. The observation of such interaction with the environment reflects the overall character of both populations. The city of the older generation is focused around practicality. Constructed through a forest, this “wilderness city” is not in any way irregular from any other city except for the complex integration of human structures into the forest. As a result, there is minimal impact on the surrounding environ...

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