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

By Greta M. K. McCormick Coger | Go to book overview

Chapter 12
"It Was Like the Book Says, But It Wasn't": Oral Folk History in Laurence's The Diviners

Lynn Pifer

Margaret Laurence novel, The Diviners, effectively re-creates the uses of oral folk history in familial and personal contexts and demonstrates the value of oral traditions in individual characters' lives. Through short snatches of folklore from schoolyard rhymes and songs to family stories, Laurence represents the ethnic coming-of-age of her main characters. Laurence herself notes that her family brought her up with a great knowledge of her Scots background, and her protagonist, Morag Gunn, is raised in much the same way, listening to Christie Logan's tales of her Scottish ancestors. Morag's classmate, Jules "Skinner" Tonnerre, a Métis, or French-Indian half-breed, listens to his father's stories of his ancestor, Rider Tonnerre. Both Morag and Jules depend on family stories for positive identification, but as they grow older, they realize their oral narratives differ from the official versions of history accepted by the larger society. Throughout the course of the novel, Jules and Morag, as well as their daughter, Pique, must come to terms with their ethnic heritage and cultural identity, and their families' quirky tales and stories become more important than they had realized. Laurence's novel is significant because it advocates the importance of oral folk history in individual lives.

Laurence creates a dichotomy between printed text histories, which are alienating and ultimately uninformative, and family stories, which give children the identity they seek. She reinforces this theme by juxtaposing school versions of history with family versions. Although Morag at first clings to her school versions as truth, through her friendship with Jules, she begins to understand that public education presents slanted versions of conquest and domination from the dominators' points of view.

Richard Dorson notes that the community identity of immigrants and minority groups depends upon the development of their own oral folk histories: "Dependent on the spoken, rather than the written word, and strongly bound by ethnic solidarity, these groups perpetuate oral traditions of sufferings and triumphs" (142). Still,

-143-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
New Perspectives on Margaret Laurence: Poetic Narrative, Multiculturalism, and Feminism
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 238

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.