New Perspectives on Margaret Laurence: Poetic Narrative, Multiculturalism, and Feminism

By Greta M. K. McCormick Coger | Go to book overview
felt I had, perhaps rather too many interlocking themes to deal with, but these were all inherent in Stacey and her situation" (Gadgetry 87). One of those is surely the Indian theme, which seems puzzling, not fully integrated in the novel, even self-contradictory. The theme is clearly and unambiguously stated with the entrance--or intrusion--of Valentine Tonnerre, "Prairie Indian but not entirely" (239; see the full identification on 240). She awakens another kind of moral guilt in Stacey that we see elsewhere in the novel, and a guilt appropriate to all white Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) Canadians (at least) in fact. The episode is full of pathos-heavier for those who know The Diviners (and Laurence, again like Faulkner, seems to have written each of the novels of the saga as though she assumed in the reader full knowledge of the entire saga). Complications arise when we consider the character of Buckle Fennick: "He has a face like an Iroquois, angular and faintly slanted dark eyes, [etc.]" (48); he is blatantly (if deceptively) sexy in an attractive-repulsive way, and he is suicidal. Stacey's lust for him is clearly misguided. Where, then, does the Iroquois appearance fit in? Another complication resides in Stacey's boy lover: Luke's customary garb seems to be his "brown-and-off-white Indian sweater in thick wool with Haida or something motifs of outspread eagle wings and bear mask" (162); (see also 174, 205, 210); he tells the moving story of the Indian village at Kitwanga and invites Stacey to go up there with him (208). The novel strongly implies that his invitation is a virtual equivalent of Buckle's invitation to his apartment. Yet the guilt involved in the story of the Indian village is the same as that involved in the case of Valentine and Piquette Tonnerre. Mixed signals concerning Luke are appropriate enough, perhaps, but the full significance of the Indian theme seems to me unclear: how, exactly, is it "inherent in Stacey and her situation"? Is she a Cancer too?
7.
Mother-daughter relationships are a constant and important concern of the Manawaka Saga, as Professor Helen Buss has demonstrated most instructively in Mother and Daughter Relationships in the Manawaka Works of Margaret Laurence ( Victoria, British Columbia: University of Victoria, 1985).

WORKS CITED

Laurence Margaret. The Fire-Dwellers. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, New Canadian Library, ( 1969) 1991; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

_____. The Tomorrow-Tamer and Other Stories. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, New Canadian Library, ( 1963, 1970) 1993.

_____. "Gadgetry or Growing: Form and Voice in the Novel." A Place to Stand On: Essays By and About Margaret Laurence. Ed. George Woodcock. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1983, 80-89.

Stevens Wallace. The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. New York: Knopf, 1968, 68.

Thomas Clara. The Manawaka World of Margaret Laurence. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1975.

Thomas Dylan. "A Refusal to Mourn the Death of a Child by Fire in London." The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: 1934-1952. New York: New Directions Books, 1957, 112.

-39-

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