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Montbrun property in Gaspésie, to the point that Alexandre Amprimoz
contends of the novel's overall structure that 'Valriant est l'espace, la
scène du roman. Quand le destinateur n'est pas à Valriant alors le desti-
nataire y est … La vraie dialectique ne s'établit qu'entre Valriant et
le  monde: ce n'est pas avant tout une question de personnages.'
('Polarisation,' 41; Valriant is the space, the setting of the novel. When the
[letter] sender isn't at Valriant, then the recipient is … The real dialectic
is only between Valriant and the world; it's not above all a question of
characters.) City life is noticeably absent, though ridiculed rather than
vilified, as when Angéline vows to ' démondaniser ' (desocialize) Mina (47).
Like Baptiste Chauvin in La terre paternelle , Charles de Montbrun is an
ardent 'cultivateur,' so attached to his calling that he goes directly from
his wedding ceremony to work in the fields (23). Like Charles Guérin,
however, he is educated and wealthy enough that he can avoid the toil,
trials, and failures usually associated with farming and in fact dons
gloves when tilling the soil. Like Jean Rivard, he is convinced of the pa-
triotic role of agriculture and, with his young followers, debates the role
of colonialization in the national mission of Canada (58-9).
Charles de Montbrun is, however, far more than a simple 'cultiva-
teur': according to Mina, 'Il y a du paysan, de l'artiste, surtout du mili-
taire dans sa nature, mais il a aussi quelque chose de la finesse du
diplomate et de la tendresse de la femme. Le tout fait un ensemble as-
sez rare.' (37; There is something of the peasant, the artist, especially the
soldier in his nature, but he also has some of the diplomat's finesse and
the woman's tenderness. All told, it makes for a rare combination.)
'Rare' perhaps, yet with all his multiple even contradictory facets,
Charles de Montbrun is the embodiment of the true French Canadian
(see Smart, 27), whose character and values seem modelled, in this case,
on those of the 'ancien canadien' of the French colonial period. Indeed,
Mina bemoans not living in the early 'heroic' days of the colony (28),
while explaining to her brother that Angéline herself would like to have
lived at the time of her cousin François-Gaston de Lévis (29), the re-
vered conqueror of the British at the Battle of Sainte-Foy. M de
Montbrun, a direct descendant of de Lévis, is not only Angéline's fa-
ther, but also an avowed father figure for Maurice (41), and 'le plus
honnête homme' (17; the most cultivated man) in the country for Mina,
who is clearly in love with him. As with the father in all three novels
examined previously, the ramifications of his death (or demise), like the
symbolism of his life, will run beyond the personal to the national and
mythological dimensions of identity. 12
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