Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
to interpret these signs, which remain unarticulated by Maria ('une autre
raison de joie qui venait vers elle sans laisser deviner son nom'): a presup-
position that the presumably French reader knows little about the land-
scape, even less about Quebec, but a lot about love.
The father and daughter then begin the long sleigh ride home, with
the surrounding countryside depicted a third time from their mobile
viewpoint at frequent and regular intervals (29-34). In effect, the com-
position of the entire first chapter is governed by the recurrent descrip-
tion of the landscape, which reflects the progress of the Chapdelaines as
they return home and the progressively diminishing ratio of culture in
relation to the continually threatening and ever-encroaching forest: 'Les
maisons s'espaçaient, pathétiquement éloignées les unes des autres.'
(31, see also 32; The houses were spaced out, separated pathetically one
from another.) 13
In no other chapter is the landscape interwoven so systematically
into the progression of the narrative, but in nearly every chapter a par-
ticular aspect of the landscape is highlighted and modulated according
to the progression of the seasons: 'la marche naturelle des saisons' (60).
The landscape description in turn serves as a hub around which each
chapter turns, its spokes being formed by the characters, their activities,
their interactions, and ultimately their values, which come to constitute
the essential components of the French-Canadian identity for Hémon.
Chapter two, like the first one, is set in early April and, after a de-
scription of the Chapdelaine family and household, presents the ideal
landscape dreamed of by the mother, Laura: 'Elle pensait toujours avec
regret aux vieilles paroisses où la terre est défrichée et cultivée depuis
longtemps, et où les maisons sont proches les unes aux autres, comme
à une sorte de paradis perdu.' (41; She still thought regretfully about
the old parishes where the land had been cleared and cultivated for a
long time and where the houses are near to each other, as if a sort of lost
paradise.) If this paradise of pure culture ('cultivée') remains 'lost,'
however, it is because, we learn, Samuel Chapdelaine is an inveterate
défricheur who thrives on the struggle itself and turns to new challenges
once the land is cleared: 'Faire de la terre! C'est la forte expression du
pays, qui exprime tout ce qui gît de travail terrible entre la pauvreté du
bois sauvage et la fertilité finale des champs labourés et semés. Samuel
Chapdelaine en parlait avec une flamme d'enthousiasme et d'entêtement
dans les yeux. C'était sa passion à lui: une passion d'homme fait pour
le défrichement plutôt que pour la culture.' (42; Make land! That's the
main expression of the area, which denotes all the daunting work that
Search WWH ::

Custom Search