Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
came running, repeating what the topic said one evening last spring: 'We
came three hundred years ago, and we remained.']
From the outset, Menaud is designated as the viewer of the scene ('Il
contemple') and infused with an intensity captured by the present tense.
Rather than viewing the mountain as an ideal removed to the horizon,
he now sees it as the focal point, brought out by the definite article and
crystallized by the metaphor of the crown, which mediates between the
fields and the sky, themselves now seen as ephemeral. 32 Moreover, the
mountain's meaning manifests itself not as a dream of the future but as
a repository of the past ('tout le passé est là') and thus of national iden-
tity, reinforced by the reappearance of Hémon's text: 'Nous sommes ve-
nus, il y a trois cents ans et nous sommes restés.' Unlike Hémon, however,
whose notion of identity seems limited to persistence, Savard's is one of
freedom and resistance, as suggested by the metaphor of the mountain
as an invisible herald, sounding the horn for the legions of the brave ('les
preux'). Moreover, the voices themselves are beginning to acquire an in-
tensity described eloquently by Ricard: 'Chantantes et diffuses chez
Louis Hémon, elles prennent ici un air martial, comme soumises au pen-
dule d'un métronome obsédant. Elles ne sont plus le chant de femme sorti
doucement du silence recuilli de la nuit; au contraire, c'est de la tempête
qu'elles surgissent, de la violence, résonnant comme des coups de gong
au cœur essoufflé de Menaud.' (96-7, his italics; Singing and spread out
for Louis Hémon, here they take on a martial air, as if controlled by the
pendulum of an obsessive metronome. They are no longer a woman's
song , emerging softly out of the meditative silence of the night; quite the
contrary, it's from a storm that they erupt, with violence, resounding like
the blows of a gong within Menaud's breathless heart.)
For Savard, persistence may be one trait of French-Canadian identity,
but it must be complemented by a strong sense of freedom and the de-
termination to preserve and proclaim it. Le Lucon resists Marie's call to
'vivre icitte … tranquille' (131-2; live here peacefully) on the grounds
that personal tranquility limits freedom of the race, and an inner voice
tells him: 'Délivre la liberté captive en ton sang.' (133; Deliver the cap-
tive liberty in your blood.) When his resolve later falters, Marie reminds
him that 'il faut penser à tout le pays aussi' (154; one must also consider
the entire country) and encourages him to continue the message of
Menaud, now demented due to overexposure in the snows of the
mountain, where he and Le Lucon had gone as an act of resistance
against the legal restrictions of the hated foreigner. 33
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