Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
hundred years is Northern and American; we belong to it like the flora
and fauna. The climate and landscape have shaped us as much as all
the historical, cultural, religious, and linguistic contingencies.) 14 In any
case, however, it is not the eradication of one component by the other
but their interplay that constitutes identity in its fullest sense, a conclu-
sion that Marcheix also reaches regarding Hébert's work in general: 'La
grande richesse de l'œuvre d'Anne Hébert tient à ce qu'elle ne propose
pas d'orgueilleuses ruptures mais bien plutôt des glissements soucieux
de ne pas faire l'économie des affrontements et des ambiguités.' (333-4;
The great richness of Anne Hébert's works consists in her not propos-
ing radical changes but rather slight shifts that are careful to not avoid
confrontations and ambiguities.)
We further note that Flora's roles, which she assumes literally à tour
de rôle , involve a mixture of historical figures (Marie Rollet), fictional
characters (Fantine), and contemporary people (Aurore, to be discussed
shortly), each an equally 'true' component of her identity, a conflation
not as surprising as it might seem, perhaps, when we consider the cen-
tral place of art in the quest for truth for all artists, including Gabrielle
Roy in the previous chapter. In fact, the concept of identity expressed
through the character of Flora Fontanges is far more radical than the
move from solitude to solidarity made by Pierre Cadorai; more than an
extension of the single, solid, stable self towards others, Flora seeks a
disintegration of the fragmented self into other, separate yet related
selves. But, in this seemingly perfect postmodern personality, 15 some
selves (the theatrical and the historical) mask others (the personal and
the past), thus forming an incomplete constellation, where points of
light mask pockets of darkness and cause Flora, despite her resolutions,
to keep her distance from others, including her still-missing daughter.
Just as the Dufferin Terrace provided a transition from the upper to
lower cities, and thus from one segment of the novel to another, the
Grande-Allée leads from the new city, through the walls, via la porte
Saint-Louis, into the old city and a new phase, the final one, in Flora's
psychodrama. The reader will recall (hopefully, given Hébert's strategy
of activating our memory to match Flora's growing consciousness of
her own) that the Grande-Allée, a thoroughfare decked out like a the-
atre set, had struck Flora by the transformation of former Victorian
mansions into modern cafes and hotels, causing her to ponder the fate
of the original occupants (19, 21). Flora's later perception of the
Grande-Allée leads her to a discovery concerning the fate of the dwell-
ings, which, she deduces, were abandoned due to the progressive dis-
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