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time and a sense of foreboding that will soon be fulfilled, causing
Warwick to downplay its initial beauty: '[Hémon's] description of au-
tumn (ch. VII) suggests that he brought his own anguish with him.
Canada's gayest season is submerged in Baudelairean melancholy, and
rapidly transformed by the first snow into a cruel dialogue.' 15
The landscape of chapter nine, set in December, evokes the miracu-
lous quality of the Christmas season during which Maria says a thou-
sand Ave Maria's for the safe return of François Paradis as she stares
out at the 'bois redoutables' (111). It is, in fact, these 'dreaded woods,'
the north woods, that kill François as he attempts to make his way back
to spend the holidays with his beloved Maria. Caught in the wilderness
during a snow storm, he strays (119) and gets lost, a human 'paradise
lost,' never to be regained, a mirage representing the legendary mode
of life of the coureur de bois, no longer possible in the real, contempo-
rary world, as Chapman notes: 'Seen from the point of view of the early
twentieth century Paradis can be seen as a near-mythical figure, symbol
of the coureurs des bois , and of Quebec's pre-Conquest state, before the
fall into British rule. While Maria may desire such a myth, the freedom
to which Paradis aspires (in the narrative) is doomed, because already
destroyed (historically speaking). From this perspective his death sym-
bolizes a reenactment of the fall from freedom to the state of the colonisé ,
and Maria's love for him suggests a desire for a lost past, which again
offers no physical place of belonging for her in the present' ( Siting , 52).
Their love is an illusion that cannot be obtained, 'pareil à une grande
flamme-lumière aperçue dans un pays triste' (154, 156; like a large flam-
ing light seen in a sad land).
After two months of intense mourning, Maria is ordered by the par-
ish priest to forget the past and devote herself to the living, an opportu-
nity that occurs with the return of Lorenzo Surprenant in March.
Lorenzo embodies another space, that of the big city, whose flamboyant
lights prove tempting, but ultimately just another mirage: 'François
Paradis était venu au coeur de l'été, descendant du pays mystérieux
situé “en haut des rivières”; le souvenir des très simples paroles qu'il
avait prononcées était mêlé à celui du grand soleil éclatant, des bleuets
mûrs, des dernières fleurs de bois de charme se fanant dans la brousse.
Après lui Lorenzo Surprenant avait apporté un autre mirage: le mirage
des belles cités lointaines et de la vie qu'il offrait, riche de merveilles
inconnues.' (149; François Paradis had come in the heart of summer,
down from the mysterious land located 'above the rivers'; and the
memory of the very simple words he had spoken was mixed with that
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