The Shining Houses: Navigating Social Pressure and Generational Conflict

Categories: The Shining

Social pressure is a natural part of life. Everyone, both young and old, gets subjected to it at one time or another. The way one respond to it is what makes the difference. One could just conform to other people’s expectation, while other may decide a different path to take. In any instances, it can still be argued that in one way or another, it influences, even just in the tiniest sense, one’s final decision. Mary, the main character in Alice Munro’s The Shining Houses is confronted with issues of conflict between the young (new) and the old generation.

It was shown in the story how she struggled to overcome peer pressure as well as personal pressures. She served as a mediator standing between the neighbours her age who have modern beliefs and practices and Mrs. Fullerton who lives with her traditional values. Personal pressure is one that she unintentionally imposed in herself basically because she felt guilty about what the others are planning against the old lady; because somehow, she agreed with their idea.

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However, the greatest challenge was when she was asked to sign the petition to bulldoze the old lady’s house, which she overcame by not giving in to the pressure and sticking to what she actually believed in. Despite the overwhelming pressure, she was still able to decide for herself and was not afraid to go for the unpopular choice, which speaks so much of her character. On the other hand, in Michael Dorris’s Working Men on the story of Groom Service, it showed the pressure bestowed on Bernard’s character by the society he was born in as he was expected to undergo the rite of passage and conform to its matchmaking traditions.

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It was shown that eventually, Bernard came to conform and to value the practice he was expected to uphold. Giving in to pressure, in this case, is an acceptance of who he really is. These two stories show how people could react to social pressures. The way people respond actually reflects the values and characters of the person. Oftentimes, strong will and determination are necessary to triumph over them. However, conformity does not always mean defeat, for there are instances that it is best to just give in for the greater good.

Updated: Mar 22, 2023
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The Shining Houses: Navigating Social Pressure and Generational Conflict. (2016, Sep 18). Retrieved from

The Shining Houses: Navigating Social Pressure and Generational Conflict essay
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