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jardin' (we must cultivate our garden), the narrator, speaking for the
author, rails against readers who might wish for a more dramatic end-
ing, contending that 'nous les prions de remarquer que nous écrivons
dans un pays où les mœurs en général sont pures et simples … laissons
aux vieux pays, que la civilisation a gâtés, leurs romans ensanglantés'
(80; we beg them to note that we are writing in a country where the
mores in general are pure and simple … let's leave the bloodied novels
to the old countries, which civilization has spoiled). We further note
that 'civilization' seems linked to the city, unlike 'culture,' which is
found in the countryside, where personal and national roots can flour-
ish and traditions persist, and that the text itself is the guarantor of that
cultural continuity. The narrator even claims to visit the family and al-
lows Chauvin to formulate the novel's would-be moral: 'Nous aimons
à visiter quelquefois cette brave famille, et à entendre répéter souvent
au père Chauvin, que la plus grande folie que puisse faire un cultiva-
teur, c'est de se donner à ses enfants, d'abandonner la culture de son
champ, et d'emprunter aux usuriers.' (81; We enjoy visiting this brave
family occasionally and listening to Chauvin repeat often that the great-
est folly that a peasant can commit is to give way to his children, stop
cultivating his land, and borrow from moneylenders.) This lesson
would surely please the conservative, church-controlled wing of the
French-Canadian elite at that time, determined as it was to consolidate
its power, not in the British-controlled marketplace, but in the family
and the countryside, where agriculture, sustained by religion, perpetu-
ates national identity. 4
A standard interpretation of the rural novel as a genre, as formulated
by André Vanasse in his introduction to the novel, is that there are two
wrong ways out of country life: 'L'une s'ouvre sur la forêt, l'autre sur la
ville … La forêt tue … La ville, elle, rapetisse l'existence.' (18; One opens
onto the forest, the other onto the city …The forest kills … The city di-
minishes existence.) Yet, if in La terre paternelle the city does reduce ex-
istence, can we not also say that in this case the forest, far from killing,
enriches life? As the peasant family falls prey to the temptations of
money and reduces itself by squabbles and poor investments, Charles
seems reinvigorated - physically, morally, and financially - by his expe-
rience in the wilderness, which seems a natural ally of the countryside
against the negative power of the city, just as alliance with one's na-
tional ancestors, the voyageurs, seems to complement allegiance to
one's familial ancestors, the habitants, against the bourgeois and the
British. Lacombe remains relatively silent concerning Charles's side of
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