Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
measure fails, since, in this highly visual passage, she ends up seeing
him dead: 'J'ai mis son portrait au-dessus de la cheminée … Parfois
quand je le contemple, à la lueur un peu incertaine du foyer, je crois
qu'il s'anime, qu'il va m'ouvrir le bras, mais c'est l'illusion d'un mo-
ment, et aussitôt, je le revois mort.' (114; I set his portrait above the
fireplace … Sometimes when I contemplate it, I believe it's coming
alive, that he will open his arms to me, but it's a momentary illusion,
and soon after, I see him dead again.)
If the sea erases memories and the garden fails to perpetuate them,
Angéline's wilful destruction of a medal containing the portraits of her
father and Maurice (204) marks the end of her attempt to memorialize
the past. In a sense, this key gesture also marks the beginning of her
own individuation, the creation of her own identity, independent from
that of the father, who wanted to maintain her as a child (33, 35), and
from Maurice, who proves unworthy of his father figure, and thus of
Angéline: 'Si Maurice avait la délicatesse de mon père, peut-être aurait-
il pu me faire oublier que je ne puis plus être aimée.' (120; If Maurice
had my father's delicacy, perhaps he might have made me forget that
I can no longer be loved.) Angéline's determination to break with the
past, in the form of her father's image, certainly has ramifications for
her as a woman, 18 but perhaps even more so as a French Canadian. To
the degree that we can read Charles de Montbrun as a vestige of the
French colonial past, we can also interpret Angéline's determination to
go forward as a message of national import. As early as 1972, in the
wake of the Quiet Revolution, Madeleine Gagnon-Mahony had seen
the novel as an expression of national rage and resistence: 'une lecture
lucide risquerait de nous renvoyer en plein visage, l'image du colonisé
révolté, enragé, et dont le pouvoir de domination et de vengeance n'a
pas été enterré sous les Plaines' (61; a lucid reading would risk throw-
ing back in our faces the image of the colonized, revolted, enraged,
and whose powers of domination and vengence were not buried un-
der the Plains [of Abraham]). Maïr Verthuy proposes a similar hypoth-
esis, which she elaborates in some detail, contending that, if the father,
who represents the past, is doomed to death, and Maurice, who stands
for the new Quebec, flinches in times of crisis, then failure is mascu-
line, and Angéline 'posits the principle of her own autonomy by refus-
ing to play the game being proposed' (34). Indeed, it is beyond the
father, beyond memory, and even beyond nature, that Angéline de
Montbrun ultimately turns to for a solution, figured again in the land-
scape description:
Search WWH ::

Custom Search