Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
In a lengthy segment of the novel's final act, Flora resurrects the vari-
ous stages of her social apprenticeship in the Éventurel family at their
apartment on the rue Bourlamaque, as she learns more elegant French,
excels in school, and plays her first role, that of Marie Éventurel: 'Elle,
qui n'avait jamais vu ni théâtre ni cinéma, voilà qu'elle se trouvait en
mesure de jouer le rôle que les Éventurel lui destinaient.' (137; She who
had never seen either theatre or cinema suddenly found herself able to
play the part the Éventurels intended for her [113].) Flora now under-
stands the frequent nightmares that her younger self attributed to 'the
wolf' and that have heretofore haunted her aging self: 'En réalité, ce
sont des petites filles qui passent dans ses songes et qu'on allume
comme des torches.' (144; In reality it is little girls who pass through her
dreams, who are set alight like torches [119].)
After an accumulation of debts caused by M Éventurel's poor invest-
ments intensified by the advent of the Great Depression (151), the family
is obliged to move from its roomy apartment on the rue Bourlamaque to
a smaller one on the now defunct rue Plessis, involuntarily glimpsed
earlier (38). Flora is now determined to confront her former residence, if
only in her memory, which once again produces the image of a glass
doorknob (159), which, we now learn, looms so large in Flora's visual
memory because one day it was grasped by her nemesis, the 'fausse
grand-mère,' who deigned to visit her daughter's family and offered to
have a debutant ball in her mansion on the Esplanade, in honour no less
of her previously unwanted and now indigent granddaughter. This un-
expected act of good will and good fortune leads to the expected mar-
riage proposal by a wealthy young man, which Marie Éventurel promptly
refuses: 'Je ne veux pas me marier, avec aucun garçon. Je veux faire du
théâtre, et j'ai décidé de partir et de me choisir un nom qui soit bien à
moi.' (162; I don't want to marry, not with any boy. I want to work on
stage, and I've decided to leave here and choose a name that will be my
very own [134].) Despite her adoptive parents' chagrin, she left and
never contacted them again, inflicting her with a persistent sense of guilt
(see page 90) and unresolved feelings, perhaps even love, cleansed only
now by her commemorative tears (163). The tears recall those shed for
Rosa Gaudrault (128), who, along with M and Mme Éventurel, is a pa-
rental figure far more essential to Flora's past roots and present identity,
we begin to understand, than the birth parents she never knew. In short,
in addition to its many other revelations, Le premier jardin also shows
how fundamental or true can be the parental relations conventionally
labelled as 'step' or 'false' (as in 'la fausse grand-mère').
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