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Atala , which she cites in an earlier entry and whose wording has clearly
affected her own in the passage above: 'Connaissez-vous le cœur de
l'homme, et pourriez-vous compter les inconstances de son désir? Vous
calculeriez plutôt le nombre des vagues que la mer roule dans une
tempête!' (173; Do you know the human heart, and could you count its
fickle desires? You could better calculate the number of waves rolling in
the sea during a tempest!)
In addition to its dual psychological role of both stimulating and
symbolizing the heart, the sea also epitomizes the passage of time,
whose destructive force causes yet further emotions and meditations,
as in the following entry from Angéline's diary: 'Mais la jolie butte qui
abritait ma cabane s'en va rongée par les hautes mers. Un cèdre est déjà
tombé et les deux vigoureux sapins dont j'aimais à voir l'ombre dans
l'eau, minés par les vagues, penchent aussi vers la terre. Cela m'a fait
faire des réflexions dont la tristesse n'était pas sans douceur.' (146; But
the pretty mound that sheltered my cabin is being eaten away by the
high seas. A cedar has already fallen, and two hardy firs, whose shad-
ows I loved to watch in the sea, eroded by the waves, are also leaning
forward. That evoked reflections whose sadness was not without ten-
derness.) Here nature, as represented by the sea, is no longer a compan-
ion of human emotions, but embodies their destruction. Angéline's
observation is accompanied by a quote from the Bible on the vanity of
human enterprise, and indeed in the landscape description itself, with
one tree (the cedar) already fallen and two others (the firs) nearing de-
struction, it is difficult not to see an image of the deceased M de
Montbrun, along with his daughter and her fiancé, both barely hanging
on. After a similar episode, in which an ash tree overlooking the sea, on
which Maurice had inscribed a verse professing love, has been felled
(173-4), Angéline comes to describe the sea as the very image of time:
'La vie s'écroule. Chaque flot en emporte un moment.' (175; Life crum-
bles. Each wave removes one of its moments.) Thus the sea, like the
garden, bears witness to the destructive force of nature, which governs
all things earthbound, including memories and memory itself.
In fact, beginning with the inaugural entry in Angéline's diary, right
after the death of her father and her break-up with Maurice, the princi-
pal issue of the novel, as is so often the case in French-Canadian fiction,
becomes one of memory. The house and garden at Valriant are already,
as we have seen, a lieu de mémoire for Angéline, and she sets about turn-
ing them into a veritable memorial as she places a lamp before her fa-
ther's portrait (103) and prays to it (116), although even this drastic
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