Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
first root, Eve in person (no longer embodied solely by Marie Rollet,
wife of Louis Hébert), but fragmented now into a thousand fresh faces
[78-9].) 11 As the roles and identities multiply and superimpose them-
selves, rather than carry Flora farther away from herself, they bring her
a heightened awareness of their relevance to her own situation. As she
reflects on the 'filles du Roy , for example, she relates them to her own
past: 'Inutile de chercher parmi les mères du pays la mère qu'elle n'a
jamais connue. Orpheline dès le premier cri et la première respiration,
Flora Fontanges n'a que faire ici parmi les filles du Roy, ressucitées
grâce à la fantaisie d'un étudiant en histoire et d'une vieille femme dé-
possédée de sa propre mère, depuis la nuit du temps.' (100; It is point-
less to search among the mothers of this country for the mother she has
never known. Orphaned from her first cry and first breath, Flora
Fontanges has no business here among the 'filles du Roy , revived through
the imagination of a history student and of an old woman who has been
bereft of her own mother from the dawn of time [79].) Flora's denial of
their significance is belied by the very confrontation with her own situ-
ation that they have produced in her, as evidenced in the final phrases
of the passage.
I cannot stress enough the significance of these roles and the places in
which they occur in revealing not only Flora's personal identity but
also the French-Canadian national identity, itself often seen as re-
pressed, even 'orphaned' by the abandonment of the 'motherland' ('fa-
therland' earlier: see chapters three and four), until the Quiet Revolution
in the sixties, just before the time frame of the novel's story (1976),
which brought to the fore the expression, now the national motto, 'je
me souviens' (I remember), coined, moreover, by the famous architect
Eugène-Étienne Taché, Anne Hébert's maternal grandfather! This les-
son of history and heritage, embraced on a national level by the
'Québécois,' as they will henceforth call themselves, is still steadfastly
avoided on a personal level by Flora.
Flora's roles also raise the additional broad question of the vulnera-
bility of women's condition, itself a key issue of the sixties and seven-
ties. 12 Foregrounded in the 'filles du Roy' episode - 'leurs jeunes corps
voués sans réserve à l'homme, au travail et à la maternité' (96; their
young bodies dedicated unreservedly to man, to work, and to mother-
hood [75]) - the issue is epitomized in the role of Renée Chauvreux,
found dead in the snowy marshes of the île d'Orléans, where, Flora and
Raphaël imagine, she had wandered alone to perish rather than marry
the husband chosen for her. This reflection on the plight of women,
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