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“Everybody who had finished Grade 8 in the country schools had to go into town to write those examinations. I loved that – the rustling sheets of foolscap, the important silence, the big stone high-school building. I wondered at it. And at myself, drawing maps with ease and solving problems, knowing quantities of answers. I thought I was so clever. But I wasn’t clever enough to understand the simplest thing. I didn’t even understand that examinations made no difference in my case. I wouldn’t be going to high school. That was before school buses; you had to board in town. My parents didn’t have the money. And they didn’t think of my life going in that direction, the high-school direction. They thought that I would stay at home and help my mother, maybe hire out to help women in the neighborhood who were sick or having a baby. Until such time as I got married. that was what they were waiting to tell me when I got the results of the examination.

You think my mother might have a different idea, since she had been a schoolteacher herself. But she said God didn’t care. God isn’t interested in what kind of job or what kind of education anybody has, she told me. He doesn’t care two hoots about that, and it’s what He cares about that matters.

This was the first time I understood how God could become a real opponent, not just some kind of nuisance or large decoration.”

– Alice Munro, “The Progress of Love”


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