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Put succinctly, the Maurice Richard era, in which the story is set, is
constructive in moving the question of national identity from one of
persistence to that of resistance, combat, even triumph; the post Quiet
Revolution era, in which the story is written, is all the more construc-
tive in pointing out the problems of any society, however resistant,
combative, and triumphant, that is too self-centred and self-contained,
while implying possible solutions in tune with current practices.
By this route we arrive at an entirely different potential reading of the
story's values and thus of the notion of national identity than that of the
previous, and admittedly more overt, message. But that is the nature of
irony - its profound, hidden meaning is the opposite of its stated one
- and Carrier is an ultimate ironist, whose style is based on exaggera-
tion and contradiction and whose message is often of a double nature. 24
Carrier's irony is not, to be sure, the bitter type of his first master,
Voltaire, 25 but a gentle form of irony that doesn't seek to obliterate its
targets but to appreciate and even accommodate them. In this sense, we
might speak, as does Dumont, of a cultural 'doubling,' where the idols
and icons of a first culture, a conservative one, are complemented by
the ideals of a second culture, based on a more liberal vision that trumps
but does not trammel the first. The two visions are clearly different and
perhaps even contradictory, but this is, after all, at the very core of
Quebec identity since the Conquest (see Létourneau, 12-13), an identity
Carrier is able to probe and promote through the act of writing.
During his interview for the educational CD-ROM (Mydlarski et al.),
Carrier expands on the significance of the hockey rink: 'Mais la culture
de hockey au Canada, dans le pays tout entier, c'est une expérience
fondamentale. C'est d'abord l'expérience de l'hiver et on a dompté
l'hiver, hein? Parce que voilà, nous avons la glace là et la glace est de-
venue domptée. Nous contrôlons la danse. La glace, nous la polissons,
elle est sous notre contrôle. C'est l'hiver maîtrisé. On met des lignes, on
met des cercles, on maîtrise, on enferme dans une clôture, on maîtrise
l'hiver.' (But the hockey culture in Canada, in the whole country, is a
fundamental experience. First of all, it's the experience of winter, and
we subdued winter, eh? Because there you have it, there was the ice,
and the ice was now subdued. We control the dance. The ice is now
polished, under our control. Winter is mastered. We add lines, we add
circles, we control it, we fence it in, we master winter.) The same sense
of dominating the very winter setting one embraces might also describe
Carrier's motivation to write, echoing Vigneault's praise of the song as
a means of 'posséder mes hivers' (possessing my winters) and Proulx's
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