Travel Reference
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Yet, as adults, the narrator and readers realize that paradise is inevi-
tably lost, and such is the case in the story's fourth paragraph, in which
a dramatic change is introduced when the boy's sweater becomes too
small and worn (6). Such a normal occurrence has a ready solution, but
his mother, too proud to use the village store, prefers the more sophis-
ticated (and no doubt less expensive) means of mail-order purchase
through the Eaton's catalogue, which she undertakes in French, not un-
derstanding the English forms. When the package arrives, the boy is
devastated to discover 'un chandail bleu et blanc, avec la feuille d'érable
au devant, le chandail des Maple Leafs de Toronto' (10; a blue and
white sweater, with a maple leaf on the front, the sweater of the Toronto
Maple Leafs), a sign, it would seem, that the shipping clerk in turn does
not understand French. Despite the boy's despair and resistance, his
mother convinces him to keep the sweater, which he then wears to the
rink. He is immediately surrounded by his gaping former comrades,
isolated on the bench, relegated to the fourth line, which never sees ac-
tion, and when he finally jumps onto the ice to replace an injured player,
gets whistled for an infraction. So frustrated by his sense of injustice
that he breaks his hockey stick, he is then sent off to church by a young
vicar hovering around the rink and told to ask for forgiveness, not only
for his anger but for his excessive pride in wearing a sweater different
from those of his comrades. The story ends with the exiled and ex-
cluded boy's prayer for moths to devour the Maple Leafs sweater, at
which point, in the film, the image of Maurice Richard descends from
the heavens to shake his hand in solace and solidarity, the mythe (myth)
being more effective than the mites (moths).
At first glance the story might seem to be one of individuation -
achieving personal identity through separation, albeit reluctant, from
the stifling peer group and its primary symbol, the jersey. In this sense,
the mother's lesson - 'c'est pas ce qu'on met sur le dos qui compte, c'est
ce qu'on se met dans la tête' (12; it's not what you put on your back that
counts, it's what you put in your head) - would seem to ring true. It is,
however, the older narrator's nostalgic and enthusiastic embracing of
the boy's dilemma that undercuts and undoes such an interpretation
and, instead, promotes identity less as an individual than a national
phenomenon. The sweater has become a symbol of national pride and
heritage (the letter H , for habitant, interlaced with the C for Canadiens
and set against the blue, white, and red of the French tricolour flag), not
to mention resistance and even domination over the English-speaking
majority: 'De plus, l'équipe de Toronto se faisait terrasser régulièrement
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