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lies between the poverty of the wild forest and the final fertility of the
tilled and planted fields. Samuel Chapdelaine spoke of it with the flame
of enthusiasm and stubbornness in his eyes. That was his passion: the
passion of a man made for clearing rather than for cultivating.)
One might say that Laura Chapdelaine's vision of the landscape
tends towards culture, just as François Paradis's tends towards nature,
while Samuel Chapdelaine mediates between nature and culture, as
Jean-Claude Vernex, puts it: 'un médiateur répondant à une mission
presque divine' (69; a mediator fulfilling a near divine mission). 14 If not
'divine,' Samuel's mission is certainly 'national' and very much in tune
with the French-Canadian notion of land colonization in the late nine-
teenth century.
Chapter three, set in May, reintroduces François Paradis and, with him,
a vision of the landscape at odds with those of both Samuel Chapdelaine
and his wife, one that rejoices in the wilderness itself: 'Le vaste pays sau-
vage avait réveillé un atavisme lointain de vagabondage et d'aventure.'
(49; The vast wilderness had awoken a primitive urge for wandering and
adventure.) Maria, while continuing to espouse her parents' views, is fas-
cinated by the primordial feelings of François, with whom she begins to
fall in love, a feeling reciprocated, we learn, through an exchange of
meaningful gazes (47; see Labonté and Moussally, 152-7).
Indeed, chapter five takes the reader to early July and to an evening
gathering for the fête de Sainte-Anne during which Maria grows in-
creasingly conscious of the attentions of three potential suitors: Lorenzo
Surprenant, returning on vacation from a big city in the States, whose
praises he sings; Eutrope Gagnon, a neighbour devoted to farming the
land; and, of course, François Paradis, also defined in terms of his space
- 'Il semblait avoir apporté avec lui quelque chose de la nature sauvage'
(75; He seemed to have brought with him something of the wilderness)
- which now exerts a powerful effect on Maria: 'Et Maria, que sa vie
rendait incapable de comprendre la beauté de cette nature-là, parce
qu'elle était si près d'elle, sentait pourtant qu'une magie s'était mise à
l'oeuvre et lui envoyait la griserie de ses philtres dans les narines.' (75;
And Maria, whose life rendered her incapable of comprehending the
beauty of that nature, because she was so close to it, felt nonetheless as
if a spell had been cast and was sending the intoxication of its potions
into her nostrils.) Indeed, François stays over to join the family in blue-
berry picking the following day, an event rendered in tandem with an
'Impressionist' landscape description (77-8), whose emotive connota-
tions are evident and, no doubt, contribute to the tacit agreement at
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