Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
another vivid memory from the past, the apartment on the rue
Bourlamaque occupied by the couple who have just adopted her and
given her another name: Marie Éventurel. It was at this point in her life
that 'Pierrette Paul' first had the compelling desire to assume another
self, indeed, many other selves:
Tout à coup, elle avait envie très fort de devenir quelqu'un d'autre, un de
ces passants qui marche dans la neige, par exemple. Son désir le plus pro-
fond était d'habiter ailleurs qu'en elle-même … Éclater en dix, cent, mille
fragments vivaces; être dix, cent, mille personnes nouvelles et vivaces.
Aller de l'une à l'autre, non pas légèrement comme on change de robe,
mais habiter profondément un autre être avec ce que cela suppose de
connaissance, de compassion, d'enracinement, d'effort d'adaptation et de
redoutable mystère étranger. [63-4; Suddenly she felt a great urge to be-
come someone else, one of those passersby walking through the snow, for
example. Her deepest desire was to live in some other place than within
herself … To shatter into ten, a hundred, a thousand indestructible frag-
ments; to be ten, a hundred, a thousand new and indestructible persons.
To go from one to the other, not lightly as one changes dresses, but to inha-
bit profoundly another being with all the knowledge, the compassion, the
sense of rootedness, the efforts to adapt, and the strange and fearsome
mystery that would entail. (46-7)]
This passage is a key to the concept of identity expressed in this novel,
based (for this character at least, deprived as she is by knowledge of her
birth parents) not on the discovery of one's true 'self' but on the coexis-
tence of multiple selves, each one housing its own truth. The self would
not have a 'centre' around which a stable architecture would be con-
structed, but would be fragmented into many components, not only as
an escape from one's 'self,' but as a discovery of one's 'identity' through
the many selves that make up the constellation of luminous points that
compose it. It is no doubt this polymorphous concept of identity that
explains Hébert's choice of a third-person narration highly focalized on
Flora, rather than a first-person narration, which might imply a cen-
tred, singular self. One might say that, as with the city, Flora's identity
is progressively 'mapped' by the many points that comprise it.
If, then, we transpose this polymorphous concept of personal iden-
tity to the national level, as Hébert repeatedly invites us to do, we move
towards the notion of multiculturalism now at the forefront of debates
in Quebec (chapter ten). 13 Not only has this possibility been embedded
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