Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Narrated in the retrospective first person, the story begins with a
lamentation on the omnipresence of winter - 'Les hivers de mon en-
fance étaient des saisons longues, longues' (2; The winters of my youth
were long seasons, very long) - followed immediately by an evocation
of the three places from which one resisted winter's ardour: 'Nous vi-
vions en trois lieux: l'école, l'église, et la patinoire.' (2; We lived in three
places: the school, the church, and the rink.) The passage from the sin-
gular 'mon' to the plural 'nous' suggests the solidarity of a group of
young boys for whom, of course, the most important of the three cul-
tural centres was the hockey rink - 'mais la vraie vie était sur la pati-
noire' (2; but real life was on the rink) - an isolated retreat from school,
church, and parents alike, where one forges one's own identity. Indeed,
in the same interview with Tarasoff, Carrier reminisces: 'à quel moment
est-ce que j'ai vraiment senti quelle était mon identité? … j'ai réfléchi et
j'ai pensé que ça m'était arrivé la première fois que j'avais chaussé les
patins' (at what moment did I truly find my identity … I reflected and
thought that it had happened to me the first time I put on skates). In a
later interview for an educational CD-ROM (Mydlarski et al.) Carrier
notes of his story's appeal: 'Je crois que ça touche à l'identité.' (I think it
has to do with identity.)
Identity, for Carrier, is both a personal and a collective phenomenon,
achieved through identification, not only with the group, but with the
greatest of all Canadian hockey players: Maurice Richard. This identi-
fication is cemented, as suggested by the story's title, by the hockey
sweater: 'Tous, nous portions le même costume que lui, ce costume
rouge, blanc, bleu des Canadiens de Montréal, la meilleure équipe de
hockey au monde.' (4; We all wore the same uniform as his, the red,
white, blue uniform of the Montreal Canadiens, the best hockey team
in the world.) The sweater enables the boys to transcend even the mo-
mentary differences that arise between two opposing teams - 'Nous
étions dix joueurs qui portions, avec le même brûlant enthousiasme,
l'uniforme des Canadiens de Montréal. Tous nous arborions au dos le
très célèbre numéro 9.' (4; We were ten players who wore, with the
same burning desire, the uniform of the Montreal Canadiens. On our
backs, we all sported the famous number 9.) The hockey rink is thus
the ultimate place of harmony and identity, a northern paradise pre-
serving pre-adult unity, embodied physically in the identical sweaters
and linguistically in the collective pronoun 'nous' coupled with the
imperfect past tense, a misnomer given the permanence of the 'perfect'
state it reflects.
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