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espacées le long du chemin, la lisière sombre de la forêt, si proche qu'elle
semblait une menace, tout parlait d'une vie dure dans un pays austère.
Mais voici que les hommes et les jeunes gens franchirent la porte de
l'église, s'assemblèrent en groupes sur le large perron, et les salutations
joviales, les appels moqueurs lancés d'un groupe à l'autre, l'entrecroise-
ment constant des propos sérieux ou gais témoignèrent de suite que ces
hommes appartenaient à une race pétrie d'invincible allégresse et que rien
ne peut empêcher de rire. [19; 'Ite missa est.' The door of the Péribonka
church opened, and the men began to come out. An instant earlier it ap-
peared desolate, this church perched on the high bank above the Péribonka
River, whose sheet of ice covered in snow also lay thick on the road and on
the fields, since the April sun was sending through the grey clouds but a
few unwarm rays, and the big spring rains hadn't yet come. All this cold
whiteness, the small size of the wooden church and the few houses,
wooden as well, scattered along the road, the dark edge of the forest, so
close that it seemed threatening; everything bespoke a harsh existence in a
stern land. But then the men and the young people crossed the church
threshold, assembled in groups in the large entranceway, and the jovial
greetings, the mocking shouts cast from one group to another, the constant
combination of serious and frivilous comments quickly attested that these
men belonged to a race moulded of invincible elation, which nothing
could keep from laughter.]
After the direct quote, the description begins with a precise visual effect,
the church door opening, as if seen from the outside, but from fairly
nearby. The third sentence, however, represents both a regression in time
('un instant plus tôt') and a step back in space for a perspective that com-
mands a more panoramic view from the other side of the river, one that
can present at once the church, its surroundings, and its parishioners.
The description is highly visual in its attention to spatial relation-
ships and topographical configuration: 'cette église juchée au bord du
chemin sur la berge haute au-dessus de la rivière Péribonka.' The per-
vasive whiteness of the snow ('Toute cette blancheur froide') contrasts
with the dark line of the encroaching forest ('la lisière sombre de la
forêt'), which threatens ('menace') the fragile places of civilization: the
church and the scattered houses. The narrator then steps in to read and
summarize the signs for the reader who might have missed them: 'tout
parlait d'une vie dure dans un pays austère.'
Yet, despite the austere setting, the inhabitants themselves are seen
('témoignèrent') as persistent, jovial, and convivial, constituting a
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