Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
rapides et la chute - écume blanche sur eau noire - , dont la seule vue
répandait une fraîcheur délicieuse' (191; three hundred feet from the
house the rapids and the falls - white foam on black water - whose
view alone spread a delicious freshness).
In response to Maria's second thoughts about the marvels of the far-
away big city, a second voice invokes the importance of French language
and culture, particularly in the place names of rural Quebec. In effect, the
names mark the places as sites of memory, 'dans sa mémoire' (191), ca-
pable of evoking not only geography, but national history and personal
ties through the heroes, forefathers, and friends linked to them.
Still sceptical, Maria hears a third and final voice, that of the Quebec
nation; the essential trait of the French-Canadian race that emerges
from this incantation is that of persistence: 'Nous sommes venus il y a
trois cents ans, et nous sommes restés.' (193; We came three hundred
years ago, and we remained.) 17 Persistence in confronting the wilder-
ness and the weather; persistence in confronting other cultures; persis-
tence in self-preservation and perpetuation: 'Au pays de Québec rien
ne doit mourir et rien ne doit changer.' (194; In the land of Quebec,
nothing must die and nothing must change.)
In a sense, the three voices can be seen broadly as linked to space,
place, and race respectively. Outside the window through which she
looks, the landscape itself reflects the promise of winter's end, and Maria
understands that she must stay. She continues, however, to recognize the
attraction of the alternative spaces, which remain as ideals and compon-
ents of the French-Canadian landscape and identity: 'Songeant avec un
peu de regret pathétique aux merveilles lointaines qu'elle ne connaîtrait
jamais et aussi aux souvenirs tristes du pays où il lui était commandé de
vivre; à la flamme chaude qui n'avait caressé son cœur que pour
s'éloigner sans retour, et aux grands bois emplis de neige d'où les gar-
çons téméraires ne reviennent pas.' (195; Thinking with some sad regret
of the distant marvels she would never know and also of the sad mem-
ories of the land where she was bound to live; of the hot flame that had
caressed her heart only to grow forever distant, and of the great snow-
filled woods from which brave lads never return.)
More than an individual choice, Maria's decision is, as Paul Perron
argues, the only one that works on a national level: 'To remain true to
historical, social, cultural, and religious values, Maria must not cross the
limits of the frontier or house … Both the wilderness and the city are
dangerous and forbidden spaces … What the novel does is to establish
the boundaries within which the subject can determine itself in terms
Search WWH ::

Custom Search