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in every direction, his sketches with their fresh colours hurtled over each
other, twirled, moved apart, then drew together as though to fashion on
the surface of the water a series of broken images, without relation or mean-
ing, though of amazingly brilliant loveliness. All one saw was carmine,
acid greens, sunny yellows, spinning about … Meanwhile the last born of
the little sketches seemed to want to return to Pierre. Eddies jostled it back
and forth. With its painted surface facing the sky it circled around a
narrow area, for a moment almost found refuge in the calmer water along
the bank. Pierre reached out, was about to recover it … and then it slid
quickly, was in its turn snatched by the whirlpools, and sucked into the
river's mighty funnel. (67)]
This kaleidoscopic scene, a virtuoso piece for Roy, has, like the paints
permeating the water, several layers of meaning: While the movement
of the rapids and the elusive pochade (colour sketch) remind us of the
artist's always precarious struggle to capture nature, the loss of paints
and destruction of the canoe recall the power of nature over art, cul-
ture, even life itself. 9 On a more individual level, Pierre has discovered
his vocation in art, but not yet his direction, as the eddying waters and
confused colours suggest. At the same time, paradoxically, one might
say that Gabrielle Roy, through her description of the swirling colours
on the surface of the water, manages to prefigure Pierre's later style
and that of René Richard, whose fresh colours themselves vibrate
and  resonate on the surface of the canvas, detaching themselves from
objects and recombining in ways that can suggest pure painting or ab-
stract art. 10
Part Two: Encounters
Part two begins with a global perspective spanning the thousands of
miles that encompass the far northern region of Quebec called
l'Ungava, an area so vast and desolate that it seems to exclude a hu-
man viewpoint: 'À perte de vue, en été, le ciel regarde cette terre vide,
et la terre vide regarde ce ciel si curieusement plein de clarté.' (69; As
far as can be seen, in summer, the sky looks over this empty land,
which looks up at this sky so curiously full of light [my translation].) 11
The scene then narrows from a moon's-eye to a bird's-eye perspective,
as, from an elevated vantage point atop a ridge, through the eyes of
the Eskimo Orok, we observe a lone white man paddling along a
treacherous river. When the traveller stops to paint, Orok realizes it
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