Dialogism, Cultural Narratology, and Contemporary Canadian Novels in English by GABRIELE HELMS Staatsexamen, Universitat zu Koln, 1991 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of English We accept this thSsis as conforming f\tip the required^tandard T I ^ J J i ^ R S I T Y OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May 1996 © Copyr ight Gabriele Helms, 1996 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of iB.'f^aLuS^ The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Abstract In "Dialogism, Cultural Narratology, and Contemporary Canadian Novels in English," I develop a methodological f ramework that combines Mikhail M. Bakhtin's concept of d ia logism with the idea of a cultural narratology to read for ideological signification in narrative structures. Narrative forms, I argue, are not ideal and t imeless but socially and historically determined. In this dissertation, I explore how they can contr ibute.to or impede a text's chal lenge to hegemonic discourses and social injustices. In particular, I focus on Bakhtin's concept of d ia logism to examine the multiplicity and interrelation of voices in narrative texts. Because voices and discourses always operate within relations of power, I understand struggle and conflict not as obstacles to but as condi t ions of dialogic relations. In my readings of selected contemporary Canadian novels in English, I argue that these texts chal lenge dominant d iscourses f rom posit ions of difference and resistance and inscribe previously oppressed and si lenced voices through dialogic relations. As a result, the novels quest ion the idea of an homogeneous Canadian culture. After establishing the theoretical context for this study, which includes the notion of resistance literature and the principles of cultural narratology, I introduce Bakhtin's main ideas on dialogism and situate my own approach to d ia logism in a selective overview of recent Bakhtin cri t icism. The remaining chapters are devoted to Joy Kogawa's Obasan, Sky Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe, Ari tha van Herk's Places Far From Ellesmere, Daphne Marlatt's Ana Historic, Jeannette Armstrong's Slash, Thomas King's Green Grass, Running Water, and Margaret Sweatman's Fox. I conclude by indicating further direct ions for research that could employ the methodological f ramework of d ia logism and cultural narratology. Table of Contents Abstract IV Table of Contents Acknowledgements IV v Chapter One Dialogism, Cultural Narratology, and Contemporary Canadian Novels: What's the Point? Chapter Two Dialogism: Mere "Fave Rave" or Oppor tuni ty for Critical Intervention? 30 Chapter Three Storying Family History: Joy,Kogawa's Obasan and Sky Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe 57 Chapter Four Processes of Un/reading in Daphne Marlatt's Ana Historic and Aritha van Herk's Places Far From Ellesmere 115 Chapter Five Crit iquing the Choice That Is Not One: Jeannette Armstrong's Slash and Thomas King's Green Grass, Running Water 172 Chapter Six Is Difficulty^ Impolite?: The Performative in Margaret Sweatman's Fox 199 Chapter Seven Writ ing into the Page ahead 224 Works Cited 240 V A c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the many people who have contributed to my thinking about and writing of this dissertation and who have supported me over the past years. For me, writing this dissertation has meant to participate in dialogue in a very Bakhtinian way. To Sherrill Grace I owe my greatest thanks for introducing me to the work of Mikhail Bakhtin in the fall of 1988, for encouraging this project, and for letting me start at the beginning. Her intellectual support, her energy, and her friendship have been invaluable. I would also like to thank Ansgar Nunning who introduced me to constructivism and the intricacies of narrative theory in my early days at the University of Cologne. I gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Department of External Affairs and International Trade Canada, which enabled me to pursue a doctoral programme in Canada. Margery Fee and Richard Cavell have been patient thesis-committee members who never reminded me of the drafts I had promised them; I owe them many thanks for being supportive when I needed their help and co-operation. During the last three years, the interdisciplinary SSHRCC research team on "Race, Gender, and the Construction of Canada" provided the larger context for the project I undertake in this dissertation. For their direction, critical conversations, and support, I want to thank Joan Anderson, Avigail Eisenberg, Sherrill Grace, Matt James, Sheryl Reimer, Paddy Rodney, and Veronica Strong-Boag. I am especially grateful to Matt and Paddy for reminding me that the study of English literature is only one way of approaching the issues addressed here and for challenging many of the terms and concepts I have come to take for granted. For their encouragement and generous contributions, I thank my fellow writers, critics, and friends, Susanna Egan, Janice Fiamengo, and Jenny Lawn, whose comments on early drafts got this dissertation off to a good start. I would also like to thank those colleagues and friends (including the ones already mentioned) who shared their resources, unpublished papers, bibliographies, and critical insights: Lisa Chalykoff, Jane Flick, Philip Holden, Karen.Macfarlane, Jeff Miller, Catherine Swatek, and Julie Walchli. Joel Martineau provided helpful and inspiring comments on a number of chapters-thank you for reminding me to read some paragraphs aloud. I also thank Margaret Sweatman for a truly delightful and inspiring e-mail exchange at a crucial time in the Writing process. My special thanks go to Janice Fiamengo for her many kind words and her critical reading of the complete draft. Thanks also to Kevin Stewart for always listening and for patiently doing the final proof-reading. Other dear friends have offered support and inspiration over the years: Rob Galasso, Beth Janzen, and Nancy Pagh, and in Germany Chantal Scharrenbroich-Middeldorf, Sanne Kohlgruber, and Susanne Spekat. Without Gitta Oldendorff's patient ear and good sense of humour the process of writing this dissertation would have been much harder to bear. For a long time, I have been looking forward to thanking my parents, Marlies and Karl-Heinz Helms, and my brother Michael for their never-faltering support and the many late-night and early-morning long-distance phone calls. And finally, I owe special thanks to Bob Shore who always cared and who still had confidence in me when I was struggling the most. 1 Chapter One Dialogism, Cultural Narratology, and Contemporary Canadian Novels: What's the Point? The study of verbal art can and must overcome the divorce between an abstract "formal" approach and an equally abstract "ideological" approach. Form and content in discourse are one, once we understand that verbal discourse is a social phenomenon-social throughout its entire range and in each and every of its factors, from the sound image to the furthest reaches of abstract meaning. Mikhail Bakhtin (1981, 259) The seemingly offhand but very serious quest ion "what's the point?" which accord ing to Mieke Bal should continually be asked of all academic work (1990, 729), is the kind of ongo ing self-criticism that has gu ided this project since its early stages; somet imes the quest ion s lowed me down and other t imes it was revitalizing. My desire to bring together d ia logism, narratology, and Canadian novels comes f rom my belief that complex relationships exist between Canadian culture and literature which deserve explorat ion. Culture does not merely funct ion as background to a novel, and by the same token, as Edward Said has pointed out, "novels are not reducible to a sociological current and cannot be done justice to aesthetically, culturally, and politically as subsidiary forms of 2 class, ideology, or interest" (1993, 73) . 1 Rather, novels themselves contr ibute significantly to cultural att itudes and references and thus help to consol idate social visions or encourage resistance. Literary texts are cultural practices that defy the separat ion of an isolated cultural sphere "believed to be freely and uncondit ional ly available to weightless theoretical speculat ion and investigation" f rom a political sphere "where the real struggle between interests is supposed to occur" (57). A m o n g the most c o m m o n characteristics that many Canadians like to ascribe to themselves and their culture are a belief in equality, suppor t for diversity, compass ion, tolerance, inclusiveness, non-violence, c o m m o n sense, and modera t ion . 2 And yet, articles in daily newspapers, victims' test imonies, personal experiences, government task forces and commiss ions, and academic studies show that discrimination is alive and well in Canadian society. Sexism, racism, and homophob ia are only three of the ideologies that result in discr iminatory practices in social arenas such as educat ion, employment , health 1 In Culture and Imperialism Said, in an exemplary manner, sets out to examine "how the processes of imperialism occurred beyond the level of economic laws and political decisions, and-by predisposition, by the authority of recognizable cultural formations, by continuing consolidation within education, literature, and the visual and musical arts-were manifested at another very significant level, that of the national culture, which we have tended to sanitize as a realm of unchanging intellectual monuments, free from worldly affiliations" (1993, 12-13). 2 Cecil Foster refers to the report of the Citizens' Forum on Canada's Future, also known as the Spicer Commission, as a source of these Canadian self-characterizations (1991,17). See also 'The Spirit of Canada" (1995), Neil Bissoondath (1995), and Anthony Wilson-Smith (1995, 10, 15). 3 care, media, justice, immigrat ion, the arts, and pol i t ics. 3 Northrop Frye's notion of "a peaceable k ingdom" seems untenable in the face of Canada's long history of discr iminat ion (1971, 249) . 4 The conflict between the ideology of democrat ic liberalism and discr iminatory ideologies in the belief systems of the dominant culture can best be descr ibed as an ideology of "democrat ic discr iminat ion." 5 Although the need to ensure equality in a pluralistic society is voiced repeatedly, privi leged individuals and institutions are too often more interested in maintaining their status quo than in br inging about changes in the social, economic, and political order, which prevents others, for example people of colour, w o m e n , gays, and lesbians, f rom full access to the rights and privileges of society. Many contemporary Canadian novels call into quest ion the idea of a "benign Canada" as a country without a history of oppress ion, violence, or 3 I use the term ideology descriptively for shared attitudes, values, assumptions, and ideas. Ideologies are situated in discursive fields in which social powers conflict and collide. I do not restrict the use of ideology pejoratively to the activities of a dominant social power or to covert means of oppression and exploitation, although I acknowledge that ideologies can distort or conceal relations of power within society. Following Louis Althusser, I use ideology to describe signifying practices that constitute human beings as social subjects and produce lived relations between them and the world (Eagleton 1991, 18, 28-31). 4 Too many examples come to mind: genocidal practices against Aboriginal peoples, the Chinese "head tax," restriction of continuous passage for South Asians to Canada, incarceration of Japanese Canadians during World War II, reluctance to allow Jews to seek refuge during the 1930s and 40s, restrictive immigration policies for non-whites, relocation of Inuit to the High Arctic, abuse of children, and violence against women. 5 I echo here the words of Frances Henry and Carol Tator in 'The Ideology of Racism-'Democratic Racism'" (1994); they analyse the concept of "democratic racism" as permitting the maintenance of two apparently conflicting ideologies: an ideology of democratic liberalism and a racist ideology. I believe that their concept would be helpful in discussions of other ideologies of discrimination as well. 4 discr iminat ion (Mukherjee 1995b, 438), and expose the contradictory nature of ideologies such as democrat ic racism. They give voice to those previously si lenced and resituate those cast as outsiders, thereby exposing the myth of an innocent nation and chal lenging its hegemonic centre. 6 In the process of inscribing these voices, Canadian writers continually imagine and re-imagine Canada in their texts. Similarly, every t ime literary critics address Canadian literature they imply a construct ion of a nation called Canada (Lecker 1995, 235). I p ropose that Canada may be most usefully understood at this t ime "through the ways in which it is represented, and on the assumpt ion that all representation is format ion" (Knowles 1995, 18); we need to study "the signif icances and material effects of a potentially infinite ongo ing series of representations, representations that each serve particular interests, that contest with one another for a kind of discursive sovereignty, and that cumulatively come to funct ion in the place of an ever-retreating 'in-itself" (18). Not only am I interested, however, in the kinds of voices const i tuted and the construct ions of Canada inscribed in these novels, but I also want to examine the unspoken assumpt ions in the way voices are const i tuted and 6 Following Antonio Gramsci, I use the term hegemony to describe "the set of values and beliefs through which the ruling class exercises its power over the masses" (Cavell 1993, 344); it is a dynamic process with degrees of completion because the hegemonic group must continually make compromises in its attempt to incorporate ever more elements of society. Hegemony does not simply refer to visible class power but describes an intricate interlocking of coercion and consent embodied in social, political, and cultural forces. As a result, in practice hegemony can never be singular; its internal structures are highly complex and include concepts of counter-hegemony (Williams 1977, 112-13). interrelated in narrative texts. Is there a particular kind of formal experimentat ion signalled in contemporary Canadian novels that exposes cultural hegemonies, or are there narrative strategies that chal lenge the limitation of the generic codes of the novel? How can these formal devices contr ibute to or impede the text's chal lenge to social hegemony and injustices? I p ropose that the concept of d ia logism can be instrumental in answering these quest ions. The term dia logism is used by the Russian cultural and literary theorist and critic Mikhail M. Bakhtin (1895-1975) in his d iscussions of language and discourse in literature. His work, which was not publ ished until the early s ix t ies-Bakht in himself being arrested dur ing the Stalinist years and later forced into invisibi l i ty-has achieved remarkable populari ty over the last twenty years, which has led his b iographers to assert that "Bakhtin is emerg ing as one of the major thinkers of the twentieth century" (Clark and Holquist 1984, vii). Bakhtin descr ibes dia logism as the organizational principle of the polyphonic novel in which a "plurality of independent and unmerged voices and consciousnesses" are " juxtaposed contrapuntal ly" (1984a, 6, 40). In this interplay of voices no single monolog ic voice is al lowed to unify or dominate; not even the narrator's views can constitute an ultimate authority. Work ing with Bakhtin's concepts, many critics have recognized that d ia logism is not only the organizational principle of po lyphony in the novel but that it also "embraces," in Anne Herrmann's words , "an ideological interrogation of literary practices" (1989, 4). A polyphonical ly conceived fictional wor ld is itself a content, a textuality 6 consti tuted by ideological practices (O'Neal 1983, 285; Thibault 1984, 90). To treat d ia logism only.as a literary device wou ld diminish and depolit icize Bakhtin's approach (Grace 1987, 133). However, only a few steps have been taken towards a cultural crit icism that uses dialogism to consider formal practices within social contexts . 7 1 believe that cultural narratology enables us to recognize that the narrative form is "far f rom being a mere neutral, value-free, transparent container" (O'Neill 1994, 123) and that dialogic relations in narrative structures are ideological ly in formed. Al though I believe that d ia logism provides an effective methodological tool for the examination of ideological signification in narrative structures, I am not suggest ing that every novel with a polyphonic narrative is necessari ly ideological ly subversive or that novels lacking such textual features are ideological ly conservative. Many critics examining Bakhtin's writ ings have reminded their readers that concepts such as dia logism or carnival are not inherently subversive, l iberating, or benevolent. 8 Moreover, in their d iscussion of Canadian novels, Sylvia Soderl ind and Glenn Deer have both come to the 7 In the context of Canadian literature, note the work of Barbara Godard (1984/85, 1987, 1990a/b), Sherrill E. Grace (1987, 1990), Richard Cavell (1987), Linda Hutcheon (1988), Martin Kuester (1992), Robin Howells (1993), and Penny van Toorn (1995). Although not dealing with Bakhtin's concept of dialogism, Lorna Irvine (1986) and Coral Ann Howells and Lynette Hunter (1991) focus on the connection between narrative strategies and socio-historical context. See Jeanne Delbaere (1990) for essays that discuss multiplicity, polyphony, and dialogism in Canadian fiction; however, these essays do not provide much contextualization. 8 See for instance Caryl Emerson (1988, 514), Michael Andre Bernstein (1989, 199), David K. Danow (1991,132), and Michael Gardiner (1992,182). For a more detailed discussion of this aspect see Chapter Two (50-51). 7 conclusion that what is rhetorically subversive is not always politically subversive or critical of authori ty. 9 The ideological propensi ty of narrative, rhetorical, or linguistic devices depends on the social and cultural practices in which they are e m b e d d e d . In Susan Stanford Friedman's words (1989, 180), narrative is "potentially polyvocal and po lymorphous" and its meanings are therefore defined not by any intrinsic qualities but by its social uses (Homans 1994, 8; Booth 1989, 75). Moreover, d ia logism has often been used as a means to explore the peaceful and harmonious interaction of voices. As a result, the elements of struggle, conflict, and power dynamics have been neglected. Feminist critics in particular have suggested recently, however, that one of the greatest strengths of the concept of d ia logism lies in its potential to articulate resistance through a contextualized investigation of power relations. My emphasis on construct ions or re- imaginings of Canada implies a suspic ion of what seems to be or presents itself as transparent or natural; to me, a gendered and racialized vision of Canada that works to privilege dominant g roups , especially those consti tuted as white, middle-class, male, and 9 Soderlind summarizes that "[t]he political force of all the novels I*have studied ... puts into question the analogy between literary and political radicalism.... The correlation in Deleuze and Guattari's theories between 'minor literatures'and ideological subversion results, I would argue, from an a priori valorization of a certain aesthetics and its subsequent translation/perversion into the realm of politics, a kind of category mistake or wishful thinking which, it seems, every generation insists on repeating" (1991, 229). Deer observes that "[t]he relationship between a novel's propositions concerning authority and its form is not simply complementary" (1994,133). See also on other literatures, Sneja Gunew and Anna Yeatman (1993a, xx) and Loretta Todd (1992, 76). 8 heterosexual, is not sel f-explanatory- i t is a socio-historical construct ion. I believe that we d o not have access to an unmediated, object ive reality, in other words , that reality is not found but invented. While I d o not deny the existence of an ontological wor ld , I believe that we cannot perceive anything that lies outside our own experience. As a result, we d o not mirror "the" reality but construct models or versions of it. Because I understand reality as a subject -dependent construct ion, the quest ion of what Canada "really" is becomes irrelevant. From an epistemological perspective, I want to inquire instead what we know about Canada and how we know it. Only th rough the analysis and negotiat ion of these construct ions, their values, norms, and truths can we create levels of consensus that will al low us to interact socially; to participate in this process is everyone's responsibil i ty. In other words , to think in terms of construct ions does not lead to passivity, helplessness, or the removal of historical agency; on the contrary, it requires commi tment and ongo ing negotiat ion. What is crucial for my argument is that these construct ions are always open-ended and provisional. Hence, they can be inf luenced, renegot iated, and changed. A rejection of essentialist not ions about Canada allows us to chal lenge the hegemonic construct ion that has gained currency because of the power relations in which it operates. Michel Foucault 's concept of discursive format ion is helpful to understand 1 0 The following theoretical thoughts on constructions have been developed together with my colleagues Matt James and Paddy Rodney, see Helms, James and Rodney (1996). I cannot elaborate here on the ideas of constructivism; for useful introductions, see Paul Watzlawick (1984), Henry D. Herring (1985), Egon C. Guba and Yvonne S. Lincoln (1989), Siegfried J. Schmidt (1992), and Thomas A. Schwandt (1994). g how construct ions operate within fields of power relat ions. 1 1 Instead of treating Canada as a pre-existing form of continuity, we must show that our not ions of Canada "do not come about of themselves, but are always the result of a construct ion the rules of which must be known, and the justif ications of which must be scrutinized" (1972, 25). We must try "to tear away f rom them their virtual self-evidence, and to free the problems that they pose.... We must recognize that they may not, in the last resort, be what they seem at first sight" (26). To approach Canada as a socio-historical construct ion enables us to think of it as a discursive format ion, that is, a system of dispersion among statements, or in other words , a regularity among objects, types of statements, concepts , or thematic choices (38). Foucault also reminds us, however, that d iscourse not only "transmits and produces power; it reinforces it, but also undermines and exposes it, renders it fragile and makes it possible to thwart it" (1978, 101). An understanding of construct ions within power relations thus also prepares the way for their renegotiat ion. With this approach I hope to contr ibute to a de-essentializing of Canada and an understanding of it as socially constructed. In addi t ion, I understand all d imensions that contr ibute to social and 1 1 See Foucault's explanation of power as a complex strategical situation in a particular society: "power must be understood in the first instance as the multiplicity of force relations immanent in the sphere in which they operate and which constitute their own organization; as the process which, through ceaseless struggles and confrontations, transforms, strengthens, or reverses them; as the support which these force relations find in one another, thus forming a chain or a system, or on the contrary, the disjunctions and contradictions which isolate them from one another; and lastly, as the strategies in which they take effect, whose general design or institutional crystallization is embodied in the state apparatus, in the formulation of the law, in the various social hegemonies" (1978,92-93). 10 discursive posit ions such as gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, as socially constructed, contested, and cont ingent (Scott 1992, 3 6 ) . 1 2 These d imensions are thus neither addit ive analytical categories nor fixed entities; rather, they may be more usefully conceptual ized as "interlocking systems of oppress ion" (Billson 1991, 53), as "intersections o f . . . various systemic networks" (Mohanty 1991, 13), or as "constructive social and cultural relations of ruling" (Bannerji 1993a, xx i i ) . 1 3 Recognizing the simultaneity of these relations in critical analyses and the need to situate them in specif ic socio-historical contexts al lows for a reconceptual izat ion of power, dominat ion, and resistance. 1 4 My interest in cultural crit icism and in novels that expose cultural hegemony and my opposi t ion to neocolonialist relations have been informed by postcolonial crit icisms. While its relations to its colonizer Britain have been descr ibed as postcolonial , Canada plays a double role as an "invader-settler colony" (Brydon 1995, 2), because "it has also been an agent of that [ imperial] power in the control it has exercised over populat ions within Canada's 1 2 See also Joan W. Scott (1986, 1988), Diana Fuss (1989), Judith Butler (1990), and Donna J. Haraway (1991). On the notion of race, see in particular Henry Louis Gates, Jr. who describes it as an arbitrary construct (1985, 6), Theo Goldberg who speaks of a "fluid, fragile, and more or less vacuous concept" (1993,80-81), and Gunewwho defines race as a "social formation" (1993,9). See also the essays in Steven Gregory and Roger Sanjek (1994) which are informed by questions of race in nonessentialist understandings of identity. 1 3 See also Roxanna Ng (1993,188), Butler (1990,10), Wolfgang Karrer and Hartmut Lutz (1990, 13), and Gregory (1994, 27-28). 1 4 However, it should be clear that in focusing on these dimensions I am neglecting many others such as age, religion, ablebodiedness etc. that situate a subject. Butler explores the political impetus that can be derived from "the exasperated 'etc.'" and the invariable failure to provide a complete representation of subject positions (1990, 143). 11 boundaries" (Bennett 1993/94, 175). Various examples come to mind : the internal colonization of Native peoples, regional colonial ism (for instance vis-a-vis Quebec and the north), differential t reatment of ethnic and racial minorit ies. The double role of Canada, and of the "Second Wor ld" in general (Lawson 1991, Slemon 1990), has led to an exclusion of these literatures f rom studies of anti-colonialist practice because anti-colonialist resistance has often been seen as synonymous with Third and Fourth Wor ld writ ing (Slemon 1990, 32-33; Lawson 1995, 2 2 ) . 1 5 While I d o not want to elide the differences between experiences of colonial ism in Canada and countr ies of the Third and Fourth Wor ld (Mukherjee 1990, 2), I agree with the argument that we need to discard simple b inar ies -such as colonizer/colonized, Europe/its Others, First/Third Wor ld , vocal/si lent~at the heart of some postcolonial crit icism in order to examine the doub le role and ambivalence of the middle g round , for example, in the literatures of Canada (Slemon 1990, 34; Mukherjee 1990, 7; Brydon and Tiffin 1993, 150-51). In other 1 5 Bill Ashroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin explain that the term 'Third World literature" has been one of the suggestions for a politically and theoretically more appropriate term than "Commonwealth literature," but they see it as "limited and pejorative" (1989, 23; Tiffin 1983,25). The term has been used to refer to the literatures of developing countries in Africa, South-East Asia, and sometimes the Carribbean which have experienced the effects of colonization (Slemon 1987, 10). The term is most commonly used in opposition to imperial cultures of the First World such as Great Britain, Japan, and the United States, although critics disagree whether U.S. literatures should also be considered postcolonial. Alan Lawson.proposes the term "Second World" to refer to "more or less that part of colonial space occupied by the postimperial, so-called settler colonies" which are otherwise left out of the First/Third World opposition in which Third World and postcolonial are often collapsed into each other (1995, 21). This category usually includes Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (Lawson 1991, 67). Aware of the political and discursive difficulties of the term, Lawson describes the Second World as "a polemical reading position that finds a peculiar power in the dynamic relation between those apparently antagonistic, static, aggressive, disjunctive-even dis/abling-binaries with which we have inscribed our cultural condition" (1991, 68). 12 words , we need to engage with the problems that come with the "confused, contradictory, and deeply ambivalent posit ion within the circulations of colonialist power and anticolonialist affect" of invader-settler cultures (Slemon 1995, 283). For the purposes of this project I use postcolonial ism as a provisional, locally situated, and historically g rounded critical strategy to read for and think th rough a transformative politics in those contemporary Canadian novels that chal lenge the consequences of colonial ism and imagine non-repressive alternatives (Brydon 1995, 10). The forms of dialogic relations I will examine more closely are informed by the desire for such a transformative polit ics. Ultimately, I believe that the novels are not so much interested in the temporary jauthor ized transgressions found in parody but in a permanent destruct ion of hegemony (Hutcheon 1989, 99). I read these novels, therefore, as resistance literature that, as Barbara Harlow has explained, "calls attention to itself, and to literature in general, as a political and polit icized activity" (1987, 28). Accord ing to Harlow, resistance writ ing sees itself "involved in a struggle against ascendant or dominant forms of ideological and cultural product ion," of which colonial ism is only one example (28-29), but as Stephen Slemon points out, resistance is not someth ing that is s imply "there" and easily accessible in a text (1990, 36). To get at resistance requires a carefully theorized strategy such as dia logism which reminds us that resistance is p roduced and reproduced through readers w h o are situated in their own specif ic contexts. Resistance is always constructed th rough mult iple 13 ideological relations; in other words it is always mediated. Moreover, it is crucial to note that resistance literature is not merely reactive. Peter Hi tchcock in Dialogics of the Oppressed argues that mult iple voic ings and dialogism fracture the monol i thic and monolog ic discourse of power and call into quest ion what he refers to as "the 'logic' of omnisubject ion" (1993, xv i ) . 1 6 Similarly, Godard has shown that we d o not have to fol low certain Foucauldian critics in their focus on the strategies of exclusion and containment which enable hegemonic discourses to consol idate their power in the face of their own internal tensions and contradict ions; instead, we can shift the focus to these internal tensions and examine how they enable the elaboration of new discursive format ions (Godard 1990b, 195). Dialogism allows us to theorize resistance not as a counter-effect to networks of power but f rom a posit ion of struggle, radical act ion, and, change within power relations. The counter-discourse of dialogic relations moves beyond opposi t ion to or reversal of posit ions and explores how discourses are displaced and destabil ized and how they are simultaneously connected and d isassoc ia ted. 1 7 As Godard summarizes it, the dialogic "establishes a theory of a transformative practice 1 6 For reconceptualizations of resistance, see also Slemon (1990, 36) and Laurie Finke (1992, 14). 1 7 Counter-discourse situates itself as "other" to a dominant discourse that tries to exclude heterogeneous voices. See Richard Terdiman (1985, 25-81) and also Helen Tiffin's explanation: "[t]he operation of post-colonial counter-discourse is dynamic, not static: it does not seek to subvert the dominant with a view to taking its place, but to, in Wilson Harris's formulation, evolve textual strategies which continually 'consume' their 'own biases' at the same time as they expose and erode those of the dominant discourse" (1987, 18). 14 grounded in crit ique and resistance" (198). At the same t ime, resistance is always necessari ly e m b e d d e d in the structures it seeks to undermine or subvert (Slemon 1990, 37). The novels under considerat ion show varying degrees of compl ic i ty with systems of oppress ion even when they seem to show the most obvious resistance. 1 8 What kinds of struggle are inscribed in contemporary Canadian fiction? How is difference const ruc ted in a multicultural society, and what does this construct ion reveal about access to posit ions of power? Is the multiplicity of mult iculturalism a form of liberal pluralism and/or of celebratory dialogism? Is dialogism a strategy for l iberation f rom oppress ion and/or does it result in chaos, nihil ism, and disintegration? Several critics have recently asked similar quest ions (Grace 1987, New 1990a, Godard 1990a/b, Emberley 1993). I am most concerned with the ritual invocation of liberal pluralism or heterogeneity, which too often disguises the perpetuation of exclusion. As Abdu l JanMohamed and David Lloyd have pointed out, pluralism is "enjoyed only by those w h o have already assimilated the values of the dominant culture. For this plural ism, ethnic or cultural difference is merely an exot icism, an indulgence which can be relished without in any significant way modify ing the individual who is securely e m b e d d e d in the protective body of dominant ideology" (1987, 9-10). Pluralism can easily become a strategy to neutralize or defuse opposi t ion by seeming to 1 8 This is not to suggest, however, that doubleness is an element of all Canadian writing, nor that doubleness occurs only in the Second World. 15 accept it; in Gayatri C. Spivak's words , "[ t ]he putative center we lcomes selective inhabitants of the margin in order better to exclude the margin" (1987, 107). The ideology of "democrat ic racism" (Henry and Tator 1994) or popular "unity in diversity" phrases serve as examples here. Because mult iculturalism or pluralism parad igms exclude the concept of hierarchy, they fail to recognize that discr iminat ion, whether racism, sexism, or c lassism, relates to the possession of pol i t ico-economic control of authority and to forms of resistance (San Juan 1992, 129). Many of these discourses of pluralism tend towards harmonizat ion without seriously quest ioning or changing the social relations in which they operate. Only when we work with a perspective that stresses difference as struggle can we counteract assimilation, cultural normalization, and strategies of containment. Hegemonic format ions need to be destabi l ized through struggle in the in-between sites where movement and change can take place. The work of the writers selected here at tempts to explore such sites for intervention as they reconstruct not ions of Canada in their novels. At this point it is necessary to outline in more detail the methodological f ramework of cultural narratology which I intend to use. I believe that an interface can be created where dialogism and narrative theory meet, so that the analysis of formal structures can be combined with the considerat ion of their 16 political implications. But can there be an alliance between narrato logy, 1 9 or any other largely formal poetics, and an explicitly polit ical/contextual/cultural crit icism of which Bakhtin's d ia logism is only one representative concep t? 2 0 To many, this quest ion may seem a contradict ion in terms. Let me phrase this chal lenge rather polemically: is not the supposed ly scientific, descript ive, and value-free discourse of narratology the very antagonist of the apparent ly impressionist ic, ideological, and mimetic approaches of political or cultural crit icism? What I propose, and here I fol low Bal, is based on the recognit ion that "the often al leged opposi t ion between historical and systematic analysis is a false one" (1990, 728; Lanser 1986, 341). What appears as an abyss between incompat ible approaches, then, is not an ontological given but can be dismant led as a self-created critical construct ion (Nunning 1994, 102). The project of br idging this gap or of refiguring boundar ies may be vehemently opposed by those who are primarily concerned with defending their 1 9 In a broader sense, narratology is often used synonymously with narrative theory of all theoretical persuasions; but in a more restricted sense, it refers to the theories of narrative structure (O'Neill 1994, 13). Narratology is here understood as a (largely structuralist-inspired) theory, discourse, or critique of narrative. It studies the nature, form, and functioning of narratives and examines what ail narratives have in common (for example at the level of story) and what distinguishes them from one another. Tzvetan Todorov (1969,10) has been credited with introducing the term narratologie to describe the systematic study of narrative structure (Prince 1987, 65). Structuralist analysis of narrative is associated With the 1960s and was begun by Claude Levi-Strauss who advanced a new theory about myth (1963). Later proponents of narratology in its various forms include A.J. Greimas (1983), Gerard Genette (1980, 1988), also Seymour Chatman (1978), Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan (1983), and Bal (1985). 2 0 Actually, P.N. Medvedev/Bakhtin's concept itself is rooted in a "sociological poetics" that combines theoretical and historical approaches (1985, 30). 17 own (academic/discipl inary) terr i tor ies. 2 1 Nilli Diengott's response (1988) to Susan Sniader Lanser's 'Toward a Feminist Narratology" (1986), in which she proposes a paradigm shift in narrato logy, 2 2 is a g o o d case in point. Accord ing to Diengott, there is no need for and no possibil i ty of reconcil ing feminism and narratology (1988, 49); misguided at tempts at reconcil iation result f rom a lack of clarity in defining objects of s tudy (47), f rom confusion as to where narratology belongs (44, 46), and f rom some feminists' desire to appropr iate other fields of study (42, 50). Another example of such defensive responses is Gerald Prince's suggest ion (1994) that quest ions concerning contexts can be considered under the pragmat ic aspect of narratology; his response is a way of "domest icat ing the context" 2 3 which ultimately reveals Prince's pr imary interest, like Diengott 's, in re-asserting the distinction between narratology and narratological cri t icism, in other words , between theoretical poetics and interpretation. While, accord ing to Prince, narratologists should be able to recognize variable, extratextual determinants, they are not concerned with the determinat ion of meanings but 2 1 Some critics will refuse to acquire terminology and strategies that, to them, seem overly formalistic either because they do not see any value in theory or want to avoid 'contamination' of their fields. Some may fear the dehistorization of their ideological project; others may be alarmed by the contextualization of supposedly universal models. 2 2 Lanser describes her task as follows: "to ask whether feminist criticism, and particularly the study of narratives by women, might benefit from the methods and insights of narratology and whether narratology, in turn, might be altered by the understandings of feminist criticism and the experience of women's texts" (1986, 342). This early essay focuses on the second question. 2 3 1 have borrowed this phrase from Gayatri Spivak's response to Prince's paper "Narratology: Criteria, Corpus, Context" presented at the International Conference on Narrative Literature in Vancouver, 29 April, 1994. 18 rather with what I wou ld descr ibe as a search for a universally valid mode l of descr ip t ion-exact ly the kind of system feminist and other narratologists have cha l lenged. 2 4 The meeting or alliance I p ropose grows out of a more relational and interdisciplinary understanding of a culturally or iented literary crit icism that recognizes "that revision of a theory's premises and practices is legitimate and desirable" and will ingly at tempts to familiarize itself with new discourses (Lanser 1986, 345). Mere reiteration of the same paradigm or the insistence on "clarity" d o not ensure the validity of a paradigm itself. 2 5 Rather, it seems crucial to examine self-consciously the usefulness of one's approach. Bal's quest ion "what's the point?" can, once again, serve as a useful reminder neither to take an approach for granted nor to reject it a priori but to review it cont inuously (1990, 727, 729). A growing number of critics have suggested product ive ways of chal lenging narratology and of al lowing other literary approaches to benefit f rom what it has to offer in a cooperat ive manner. These critics have proposed a 2 4 For another interesting example of this debate, see the exchange between Dorrit Cohn (1995a/b), Mark Seltzer (1995), and John Bender (1995). Cohn argues that the "associations of modal types with ideological positions" lie outside the realm of classical narratology (1995a, 14). She claims to fault ideologically oriented critics not for "using narratological concepts to construct cultural history but for misusing them," and she insists that "persuasive ideological diagnoses of novelistic form cannot be achieved without supreme caution and extensive sensitization to the complexity involved" (1995b, 35). Bender suggests, however, that the intensity of Cohn's attack derives from "an intolerable violation of what she [Cohn] seems to take as transhistorical disciplinary and subdisciplinary boundaries" (1995, 31). 2 5 Lanser has skilfully pointed this out in her response to Diengott's critique (1988, 53-54). 19 range of innovative quest ions, models, and interpretations in the process of explor ing an alliance between narratology and feminism, New Historicism, as well as other critical theories. Their approaches emphasize notions of d ia logue, cooperat ion, expansion, re-formation, and complementar i ty. Lanser, for example, has focused on br inging together feminist crit icism and narratology in what she refers to as "a feminist narratology" (1986) or "a feminist theory of voice," which she explores in Fictions of Authority (1992). "Why Don't Feminists 'Do' Narratology?" is the provocative quest ion with which Robyn Warhol introduces Gendered Interventions (1989). By propos ing "a partial poetics of narrative discourse" that recognizes distancing and engaging narrators as convent ions of narrative texts in nineteenth-century realist f iction (1989, xv), she attempts to analyse "gendered differences in writ ing strategies" as well as to "expose the gender bias in literary theories" that have ignored the engaging narrator as a literary convent ion (24) . 2 6 Ansgar Nunning (1992) suggests a methodological approach based on the conceptual f rameworks of narratology and New Historicism and he appl ies this method to (re)read novels of the eighteenth century. Moreover, providing a succinct overview of major contr ibut ions to "feminist narratology" and indicating potential direct ions for future research, Nunning (1994) has argued that an alliance between narratology and feminist 2 Warhol nevertheless insists on the distinction between poetics and thematic interpretation as advocated by Prince; her own work consists of "analyses, not readings, because interpretation is not the goal of this study" (1989, viii). I would argue, however, that whatis communicated by a novel cannot be separated from how it is communicated. 20 crit icism can be crucial in current reconceptual izat ions of literary cri t icism. Lanser, Warhol , and Nunning are interested in developing methodological f rameworks that allow them to examine the connect ions between narrative fo rms and the historically determined understandings of reality that inform t h e m . 2 7 Generally speak ing / these approaches have lorig parted with the purely mimetic concept of literature in which literature is seen as a mirror of reality. Instead, literary texts are recognized as "historical and cognit ive events in their own right" (Schwarzbach q td . in Nunning 1992, 199). Their relationship with society is reciprocal and dynamic: On one hand, literary texts are considered products of their contexts in that they take up social prob lems and cultural knowledge of a t ime and comment upon as well as interpret them with the help of specif ic literary means. On the other hand, it has been pointed out that literary reality models in return influence society as they contr ibute to the development of new ways of perceiving, thinking and feeling about the wor ld . (Nunning 1992, 199; my t ranslat ion) 2 8 Novels produce their own fictional wor lds th rough specif ic narrative techniques. These narrative forms themselves are recognized as ways of construct ing the 2 7 1 focus here in some detail on the work of Lanser, Nunning, and Warhol; for further interesting challenges to and expansions of narrative theory, see, for example, Patrick O'Neill (1994), the contributions to Neverending Stories: Toward a Critical Narratology, edited by Ann Fehn, Ingeborg Hoesterey, and Maria Tatar (1992), and the essays in Reading Narrative: Form, Ethics, Ideology, edited by James Phelan (1989b). Phelan notes in his introduction that "the findings of the volume most fruitfully intersect with the developments in criticism following upon the Anglo-American discovery of Bakhtin" (1989a, xviii). 2 8 Lanser refers to this as the "dual nature of narrative" (1986, 344). See also Herring (1985, 43) and Joanne S. Frye who attempts to show in her analysis of women's writing and reading that "novelistic conventions are not fixed but are instead subject to redefinition"; "women's novels alter women's lives; women's lives alter women's novels" (1986, 202). 21 experience of reality in language. Thus, the narrative form itself is already a content. The analysis of these textual practices can provide us with an understanding of historically determined moral confl icts, wor ld views, habits of thought , and individual and collective reality models that can reach far beyond the mere analysis of topics and themes; as Nunning points out, this understanding differs significantly f rom tradit ional text -background or influence studies (1992, 199-200). If narrative techniques are formal means of inscribing socio-cultural experiences, they cannot be t imeless ideal types that have miraculously been handed d o w n to narratologists in ready-to-use systems. Instead, as Lanser explains, they are historically determined and are the result of "complex and changing convent ions that are themselves produced in and by the relations of power that implicate writer, reader, and text" (1992, 5). Consti tuents of these power relations include, for instance, gender, race, and class. Even the broadest elements of narration are thus ideological ly charged, socially variable, and sensitive to differences (23). Let me return to Bal's candid quest ion: what's the point then of a cultural narratology that recognizes that ideology is located in narrative structures themselves? The point is that once narrative forms are seen as socially constructed, novels become valuable sources for cultural studies because their narrative forms provide information about ideological concepts and worldviews. Thus, the kind of narratology conceptual ized here is not an end in itself. In 22 alliance with a cultural view it enables us to identify and understand cultural experiences translated into and meanings produced by particular formal practices (Lanser 1988, 5 9 ) . 2 9 For this reason, I introduce the term "cultural narratology" instead of employ ing Chatman's notion of "contextualist narratology," which he has criticized for focusing exclusively on "the acts in the real wor ld that generate literary narratives" (1990, 310) . 3 0 A f ramework of cultural narratology can be effective on two fronts: first, semanticizing narrative forms can move narratology beyond its notor ious a-historicity and second, by providing adequate descript ive tools, narratology enables cultural analyses to attend to the tools and strategies that are characteristic of narratives (Nunning 1992, 267), while at the same t ime increasing intersubjectivity, plausibility, and coherence in critical readings. As I bring together Canadian novels and cultural narratology, I am interested in explaining the texts' dialogic dynamics and thinking th rough some of their tensions. Since my discussions of the individual texts concentrate on their dialogic relationships, it is inev i tab le-and very frustrating to m e - t h a t many other aspects wor th investigating will unfortunately remain untouched. My 2 9 This general statement also allows for Bal's important reminder that narratology does not have to be and should not be confined to narrative texts as traditionally defined (1990, 750). She convincingly discusses examples from anthropology, science, and visual art with the help of narrative theory. 3 0 In the end, Chatman would probably be critical of an integration of structuralist and contextualist orientations too. Although I find his criticism of contextualist narratology problematic, I have decided not to engage with his argument in detail here and to introduce the term cultural narratology instead in order to emphasize the relevance of narratology for cultural studies. 23 readings are, therefore, in no danger of exhausting the potential of these novels. As I think with and at t imes against Bakhtin, I want to avoid turning d ia logism into yet another master narrative. My approach to dialogism is a theory in the mak ing, as Chapter Two will show. Nevertheless, I take seriously Kim Blaeser's concern over colonizing gestures of critical theory, especial ly with regard to Native literatures: The [Native American] literature is approached with an already establ ished theory, and the implication is that the wor th of the literature is essentially val idated by its demonstrated adherence to a respected literary mode, dynamic or style. A l though the best scholars in native studies have, not appl ied the theories in this colonizing fashion but have employed them, the impl ied movement is still that of colonizat ion: authority emanat ing f rom the mainstream critical centre to the marginal ized native texts. (1993, 55-56) 3 1 It is difficult to escape this paradoxical situation completely, but instead of validating the selected novels through their inclusion in this dissertat ion, I expect that the novels will show me whether dialogism is a useful critical tool for reading resistance literature. I am neither trying to construct f ixed paradigms for the field of Canadian literary cri t icism, nor at tempting to present a homogeneous picture of contemporary Canadian f ict ion. The f ramework of d ia logism and cultural narratology allows me to articulate my versions of these novels, while other readers may prefer other theoretical models that will result in different 3 1 Similarly, van Toorn has reminded us that "[t]he speech, writing and other cultural practices of minority groups are only liberated into the public domain to the extent that the patron discourses succeed in trapping them in the categories which the dominant audience has available to contain them" (1990,103). Thanks to Peter Dickinson's article (1994) for bringing van Toorn's warning to my attention. See also Leonore Keeshig-Tobias (1990, 175). 24 vers ions. 3 2 This dissertation has been conceived and written not as an act of containment but as a project of explorat ion; it invites cont inuing debate. As Chandra Mohanty reminds us in the context of Third Wor ld women 's wri t ing, it is not enough to assert the existence of resistance literature; it is also crucial to investigate "the way we read, receive, and disseminate such imaginative records" (1991, 34). In my work on this project I have been reminded constantly that the critical processes of reading and analysing literature are a subjective undertaking. Why and how d o I write about Canadian literature? As a white German w o m a n , I speak to Canadian novels in many ways f rom the outside; yet, after having lived and studied in this country for several years, I occasional ly feel that I may be writ ing f rom the inside of Canadian culture. While I am aware of a number of shifting inside/outside configurat ions in which I am situated within Canada, I experience other dividing lines between inside and outside primarily th rough language, nationality, and geography. Thinking and writ ing in a language other than my mother tongue is a g o o d example for me of my often deceptive insider/outsider situation. This second language is never transparent or self-explanatory--at t imes it is t reacherous. Living in two languages has made me sharply aware of how central language is to the consti tut ion of subjectivity, to how I understand the wor ld , myself, and others, and to how I construct the realities I perceive. 3 2 Simone Vauthier quotes Robert Kroetsch's statement that "criticism is really a version of story" (1993, 4); I adopt her notion that her readings of short fiction are "versions of story" which are informed by her narratological approach and her socio-historical positioning (4). 25 Trinh T. Minh-ha's "Outside In Inside Out" has helped me think about "that undetermined threshold place where she [the insider/outsider] constantly drifts in and out. Undercutt ing the inside/outside opposi t ion, her intervention is necessari ly that of both a deceptive insider and a deceptive outsider" (1991, 7 4 ) . 3 3 1 d o not believe that there is an essential homogeneous inside, an authentic insider, or an absolute reality out there somewhere. In the process of watching myself shift back and forth between the posit ions available to me, I have chosen to emphasize the need "to cross to and fro across borders rather than ... fetishizing the border into a spectacle of difference which in f ac t . . . d isavows difference" (Gunew and Yeatman 1993a, xxiv). Let me reflect briefly on my selection of novels, a choice very much determined by my own interests and cultural expectat ions. The simplest answer to why I have chosen these novels and not others is that I enjoyed reading them and have something to say about them. But the selection has, of course, also been motivated by the novels' suitability for my readings of the dialogic principle at work ; my discussions explore how dia logism can work as a critical tool to examine novels as sites of resistance and struggle. Moreover, even after repeated readings, these texts still surprise me with new chal lenges; they remain perplexing, and at t imes have proved to be frustrat ing. The corpus is admit tedly eclectic and open to the charge of arbitrariness. I had to be realistic about how See also Rosa Ho's (1994) interesting discussion, which brought Trinh's essay to my attention. 26 many novels I could discuss without becoming superficial in my analysis, which meant that I had to limit the number of novels considered in each chapter. In the final chapter I comment on some of the other novels I had originally hoped to examine in detail. I also had to take into account how novels wou ld work together in each chapter. The seven novels selected d id not finally "make it" into the thesis because they are the most polyphonic contemporary fiction in Canada, because they are the "best" novels written in Canada in the last fifteen years (whatever that may mean), or because they are all proven bestsellers. Actually, I ended up with some very popular and by now critically acclaimed novels such as Joy Kogawa's Obasan, which is taught in high school and university courses, as well as l itt le-known texts such as Margaret Sweatman's Fox, which has not yet received the critical and publ ic attention I believe it deserves. And , finally, the order in which I d iscuss the novels is not supposed to suggest a notion of linear progression or increasing excellence. The discussions in each chapter take different direct ions; at t imes they overlap and suppor t each other and at other t imes they may seem contradictory. I made a deliberate decision to restrict my study to novels written in English. When I contemplated including French Canadian examples, I realized that I d id not have the kind of knowledge about French Canadian culture which this project would require. More importantly, I wanted to resist the somet imes unspoken expectat ion that a study of Canadian literature has to include the literatures of the "two founding nations," English and French. The notion of the 27 two founding nations in itself seems highly problemat ic for it reinforces a long tradit ion of internal colonial ism toward First Nations people and others. If I had considered novels written in languages other than English, I wou ld have preferred to include Canadian novels written in a number of different languages. Unfortunately, I know only a few languages well enough to read them in the original. For these pragmat ic and political reasons, I dec ided to focus exclusively on novels written in English. All of this said, let me outline briefly how I have organized the rest of this dissertat ion. In the next chapter, I prepare the g round for the fol lowing readings. I focus on Bakhtin's wri t ings to introduce some of his crucial ideas about d ia logism. Then, I situate my own approach in a selective overview of recent Bakhtin cri t icism. Struggle and conflict form the basis for my understanding of dialogic relations because I recognize that d iscourses always operate within relations of power. As a result, I am interested in an analysis of dialogic relations not only to descr ibe the heterogeneity of voices but also to explore how the actual relations between them can expose dominant d iscourses and chal lenge them f rom posit ions of difference. Chapters Three to Six explore the f ramework of d ia logism and cultural narratology in relation to specif ic contemporary Canadian novels in English. In Chapter Three I d iscuss the processes involved in tell ing and writ ing family history in Joy Kogawa's Obasan and Sky Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe. The dialogic relations in these novels foreground the epistemological quest ions 28 involved in rewriting history and emphasize its openendedness. I argue that in spite of their similarities, these novels employ dia logism to different ends: one is ultimately most interested in gett ing history right, while the other simultaneously affirms and chal lenges individual and communi ty history. Chapter Four focuses on the processes of un/reading in Ari tha van Herk's Places Far From Ellesmere and Daphne Marlatt's Ana Historic. The novels chal lenge the mono log ism of f ixed categories and hegemonic discourses by recontextualizing them and offering alternative construct ions. Dialogic relations operate, for example, at the level of genre convent ions, in the interrelations of chronotopes and narrative strands, and in the quotat ion of documents . I am particularly interested in quest ioning the novels' gestures of strategic mono log ism within their polyphonic narratives. In Chapter Five I analyse the contestatory textual polit ics in Jeannette Armstrong's Slash and Thomas King's Green Grass, Running Water. Through dialogic interaction among and within perspectives and th rough a relational approach to oral storytell ing and written narrative, both novels crit ique the false binary choices offered to Native peoples and inscribe a third posit ion of self-determinat ion. Margaret Sweatman's Fox provides the focus for Chapter Six, in which I examine how the performative operates as a counter-hegemonic strategy in the novel. Through the col lage of voices that have been forgotten or obscured in tradit ional histor iography and through a recontextualization of familiar voices, Fox opens up sites for intervention and restages the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. 29 In the final chapter, I conclude by looking ahead to some of the novels that I considered for inclusion in this dissertation but that still await closer analysis. I also indicate further direct ions for research that could employ the methodological f ramework of d ia logism and cultural narratology. 30 Chapter Two Dialogism: Mere "Fave Rave" or Opportunity for Critical Intervention? To say that Mikhail M. Bakhtin's wri t ings have become popular in contemporary Western academic discourse over the last two decades is both a considerable understatement and an obvious simpli f icat ion. 1 When Ken Hirschkop compi led his b ib l iography of critical literature on Bakhtin in 1989, he claimed--and feared?- that the Bakhtin snowbal l was about to turn into an avalanche (1989a, 195). The interest in Bakhtin's work has certainly taken on remarkable proport ions, a scenario that has been variously descr ibed as the "cult of Bakhtin," "a Bakhtin fad," or "the Baxtin industry" (Said in Wil l iams 1989, 181 ; Malcuzynski 1990, 84; Morson 1986, 81 ) . 2 Appreciat ive characterizations of Bakhtin's ideas frequently include the adjectives flexible, suggest ive, ambit ious, ambiguous, and generous. Such 1 It is importantto note, as Emerson points out, "that the Bakhtin boom in post-Communist Russia has had a different trajectory from our own domestic American one" (1995, 1). In a very useful way, she introduces the essays in Bakhtin in Contexts, edited by Amy Mandelker, by juxtaposing the issues they raise "to a debate or a representative essay among Russian scholars also at work on Bakhtin's legacy" (1995, 5). 2 The "meteoric rise of Bakhtin's star" (Danow 1991, 123) is reflected, for example, by the fact that the November issue of the MLA International Bibliography (1995) lists 1134 entries under Bakhtin's name alone and 356 under the term dialogism. 31 praise is not limited to studies in one single discipl ine; Bakhtin's concepts have created interest across many tradit ional discipl inary boundar ies and f igure in numerous interdisciplinary studies: literary cri t icism, l inguistics, phi losophy, psychology, ethnography, fi lm studies, cultural studies, women's studies, and music . 3 Even within specif ic f ields, the diversity of approaches is extremely broad. Within English studies, for instance; Bakhtinian approaches have been used to analyze Gothic fiction (Howard 1994), contemporary d rama (Keyssar 1991, Harvie and Knowles 1994), Victorian novels (Garrett 1980, Clark-Beattie 1985, W.V. Harris 1990, Shumway 1994), Victorian b iography (Amigoni 1993), black w o m e n writers (Henderson 1989, Andrade 1990), poetry (Davidson 1983, Richter 1990), parody (Hutcheon 1989, Kuester 1992) and texts as diverse as the Bible (Reed 1993) and novels by James Joyce (Kershner 1989), Malcolm Lowry (Grace 1990), Leslie Marmon Silko (Krupat 1989), and Christa Wolf (Herrmann 1989). In these discussions, many labels have been attached to Bakhtin; he has been called a formalist, semiot ician, Marxist, neo-Kantian, structuralist, and postmodernist . A number of critics have expressed their d ismay about Bakhtin's apparent ly unlimited appl icabi l i ty, 4 while others have begun to examine critically 3 This does not come as a surprise considering that much of Bakhtin's work cannot easily be said to belong to one specific field of study either; consider his own explanation: "our study will move in the liminal spheres, that is, on the borders of all the aforementioned disciplines [the linguistic, philological, and literary], at their junctures and points of intersection" (1986, 103). 4 Robert Young, for instance, is particularly alarmed because "it seems that just about anyone can, and probably will, appropriate Bakhtin for just about anything" (1985/86, 74). See also Paul de Man (1983, 104). 32 but enthusiastically the reasons for his remarkable popularity. Any definitive label, however, seems to contradict Bakhtin's own belief in the open-endedness of all critical work, including his own (1986, 155, 170), as well as his suspic ion of "theoretism," that is, any method that considers systems in which every element has a place in a r igorous hierarchy as the only valuable form of knowledge (Morson and Emerson 1990, 27-28). 5 The sheer number of Bakhtin's writ ings and their often contradictory nature resist general ization, but critics have used labels to contain the heterogeneity of his ideas, to simplify his discourse, and, at least temporari ly, to ease their own discomfor t with the open-endedness and conceptual sl ipperiness of Bakhtin's work. Within the vast array of current critical work on Bakhtin, I can identify three main purposes . Critical exegeses of Bakhtin's wri t ings, for example by Gary Saul Morson and Caryl Emerson (1990) and Katerina Clark and Michael Holquist (1984), are particularly valuable to those who lack familiarity with Russian critical thought and cannot read his texts in the original. These critics have also contextualized Bakhtin's wri t ings and/or have discussed them in compar ison with other theoretical approaches (for example, Patterson 1988, Jefferson 1989, White 1984). Moreover, Bakhtin's terminology has been appl ied to specif ic writers, texts, and problems. This approach has found its most severe critic in de Man who concludes that " [ t ]o imitate or to apply Bakhtin, to read him 5 As a result, Bakhtin was critical of structuralist projects (1986, 169-70); a narratology that does not include a diachronic perspective and focuses on self-enclosed systems at the expense of context would exemplify the totalitarian assumptions he criticized. 33 by engaging him in a dialogue, betrays what is most valid in his work" (1983, 107). De Man argues that d ia logism and its ideologies of otherness belong to a descript ive d iscourse of poetics, while dialogue is part of a normative hermeneut ics with which dialogism is incompatible. And finally, some critics recognize it as the most urgent task to put Bakhtin's ideas "into circulation" (Pechey 1989, 40), to explore the "productive possibilit ies" of his theories (Hitchcock 1993, xi), and to extend and chal lenge the potential of his work (Morson and Emerson 1989, 4 ) . 6 In this study I engage critically with Bakhtin's concept of d ia logism to develop a polit icized Bakhtinian approach. By part icipating in the circulation of Bakhtin's concepts, I d o not wish to partake in "uncritical hero worship" or perform "mechanical appl icat ions" of Bakhtin's ideas (Morson and Emerson, 1989, 49). While something as fashionable in contemporary literary crit icism as dia logism may tr igger fears and warnings of superficial readings or careless appropr ia t ion-af ter all, Hi tchcock has not warned us of d ia logism as the "fave rave of the culturati" for nothing (1993, x i i ) - 7 I want to show that d ia logism can be a valuable means for developing a cultural-narratological approach to 6 In this regard the studies by Peter Stallybrass and Allon White (1986), Peter Hitchcock (1993), Gardiner (1992), Patricia S. Yaeger (1988), Dale Bauer (1988), Don H. Bialostosky (1986), and Finke (1992) have been seminal. Their contributions, as well as many other explorative approaches, will be referred to in more detail later in this chapter. 7 Consider the concerns of Frank Davey who criticizes scholars of Canadian literature who use Bakhtinian theory for not recognizing the dialogic nature of Bakhtin's own work and for ignoring its overtly political character (1988, 2-3). See also Grace who recognizes a trend in recent criticism "to call any experimental postmodern text carnivalesque, or even polyphonic" (1987, 134). 34 Canadian f ict ion. In this chapter, as well as through later d iscussions of the novels, I will explore in more detail what motivates my preference for this approach. Given the extensive critical work that Bakhtin's wri t ings have elicited, it is tempt ing to read critics explaining or comment ing on Bakhtin rather than to read Bakhtin's own work. Engaging with his long, repetitive, and often contradictory essays can be fascinating but also very d iscouraging. How much easier it is to g o to a book about Bakhtin that neatly summarizes and categorizes his crucial ideas. While I think it is important to get some first-hand experience of Bakhtin's wri t ings, I am not suggest ing that the reader can thus f ind a way of returning to the original Bakhtin. As White has said in his reply to Young's attack on Bakhtin cri t icism: "[t ]here is no repetit ion, no retreat, no anachronism, in short there is no go ing back to 'Bakhtin.' 'Bakhtin' was not in the forms in which he now is.... It is not we who return to 'Bakhtin.' It is 'Bakhtin' w h o now f inds meaning amongst us" (1987/88, 218-19). To emphasize the fact that his 'Bakhtin' is an appropr iated version and to resist the illusion of a close, unproblemat ic familiarity with 'Bakhtin,' White explains that he uses the single quotat ion marks "to signal his ['Bakhtin's'] alienation f rom and d ismemberment in the current conflict of possession" (221). With this caveat in place, a familiarity with Bakhtin's works nevertheless provides important c o m m o n ground for further d iscussion and enables both the reader and me to recognize my own as well as other critics' 35 vested interests in engaging with Bakht in. 8 Bakhtin himself never actually used the word dia logism in his wri t ings (Holquist 1990, 15). As I use and problematize the term dia logism, I am trying to capture Bakhtin's wide-ranging thoughts on the topic of dialogic relations without draining the concept of its processual and unfinalizable nature. Initially, Bakhtin d iscussed dialogic relations in the context of Dostoevsky's novels, but he later expanded the concept to grapple with the novel as a genre, with language, epistemology, and even ontology. The main sources for Bakhtin's reflections on dialogism are Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics (1984a), first publ ished 1972 as the revised edit ion of the earlier Problems of Dostoevsky's Creative Art (1929), "Discourse in the Novel" (1981), originally publ ished in 1975, and "The Problem of the Text" (1986), first publ ished in 1979. 9 Bakhtin uses the term heteroglossia to indicate that language is always mult i- layered, stratified, and never unitary: 8 What follows is only a very brief introduction to the concept of dialogism. For useful and more extensive introductions to his life and work see Clark and Holquist (1984), Morson and Emerson (1990), Holquist (1990), Danow (1991); see also Simon Dentith's overview of the writings of Bakhtin and his circle which introduces his Bakhtinian reader (1995, 3-104). 9 These three are among the texts whose authorship has been attributed to Bakhtin. However, for a number of early works this question has not yet been, and may never be, resolved. These texts include The Formal Method in Literary Scholarship (1928) by P.N. Medvedev, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language (1929) and Freudianism: A Marxist Critique (1927) by V.N. Voloshinov. The debate was initiated by an article by V. V. Ivanov (1976), first published in 1973, in which he claimed that the three texts were written by Bakhtin himself. This opinion was also promoted by Clark and Holquist in chapter six of their biography, 'The Disputed Texts" (1984, 146-170). For a rejection of this view see Irwin R. Titunik (1984, 1986) and chapter three in Morson and Emerson (1990, 103-119). I am not qualified to enter this debate here. Moreover, I do not think that the question of authorship would affect my own discussion. However, to acknowledge the dispute, I will refer to Bakhtin where his authorship is unquestioned and otherwise to Voloshinov/Bakhtin or Medvedev/Bakhtin. 36 Actual social life and historical becoming create within an abstractly unitary national language a mult i tude of concrete wor lds, a mult i tude of bounded verbal- ideological and social belief systems; within these various systems (identical in the abstract) are elements of language filled with various semantic and axiological content and each with its own different sound. (1981, 288) These languages develop out of the tension of confl ict ing centripetal and centrifugal forces in society: " [ a l o n g s i d e the centripetal forces, the centrifugal forces of language carry on their uninterrupted work; a longside verbal-ideological centralization and unification, the uninterrupted processes of decentral ization and disunif ication g o forward" (272). As Bakhtin explains, because languages develop out of these processes, they cannot be considered a neutral med ium (294). On the microlevel, Bakhtin conc ludes that every single word is inherently dialogic, that is, "[i]t is entangled, shot th rough with shared thoughts , points of view, alien value judgments and accents" (276). To use a w o r d , then, and make it our own, we have to appropr iate it f rom someone else's discourse. From this perspective, languages, even single words , are specif ic views of the wor ld , ways of conceptual iz ing the wor ld in words (291-92). It is as wor ldviews that these '" languages' of heteroglossia" enter the novel (291) . 1 0 When Bakhtin descr ibes the novel as "a mic rocosm of heteroglossia" (411), he makes explicit the connect ion between the social wor ld of heteroglossia and its 1 0 Bakhtin further explores the artistic "transformations" of languages into worldviews or social voices in 'The Problem of the Text" (1986, 118-19). 37 artistic representation in the novel . 1 1 The processes of language unification and decentral ization reflected in the novel cannot be separated f rom the ongo ing social and ideological struggle in soc iety . 1 2 However, a l though the novel "orchestrates all its themes, the totality of the wor ld of objects and ideas depic ted and expressed in it" th rough heteroglossia (263), this mixing of languages is not arbitrary or unsystematic. Bakhtin insists repeatedly that the goal of the novelistic process is the creation of an "artistic image of a language," to be achieved through artistic consistency and careful organizat ion (366). Bakhtin explains further that "[ t ]he image of such a language in a novel is the image assumed by a set of social beliefs, the image of a social ideologeme that has fused with its own discourse, with its own language.... In the novel formal markers of languages, manners and styles are symbols for sets of social beliefs" (357). Heteroglossia can thus enter the novel in two ways: in 1 1 Consider also Bakhtin's description of the novel "as a diversity of social speech types (sometimes even diversity of languages) and a diversity of individual voices, artistically organized. The internal stratification of any single national language into social dialects, characteristic group behaviour, professional jargons, generic languages, languages of generations and age groups, tendentious languages, languages of the authorities, of various circles and of passing fashions, languages that serve the specific sociopolitical purposes of the day, even of the hour (each day has its own slogan, its own vocabulary, its own emphases)~this internal stratification present in every language at any given moment of its historical existence is the indispensable prerequisite for the novel as a genre" (1981, 262-63). 1 2 In his study of Dostoevsky's novels, Bakhtin discusses the reasons and factors that contributed to the rise of the polyphonic novel (1984a, 22-32). He argues that Dostoevsky "found and was capable of perceiving multi-leveledness and contradictoriness not in the spirit, but in the objective social world" (27), that the epoch itself plus Dostoevsky's vision of coexistence and interaction, not evolution, made the polyphonic novel possible. In "Discourse in the Novel," he also connects the rise of the novel with centrifugal forces (1981, 272-73, 370). Todorov summarizes Bakhtin's explanations by saying that "the periods in which the novel flourishes are periods of weakening central power" (1984, 58). 38 the form of subjects and their languages and thus as a means of internal orchestrat ion, or, if the novel seems to know only one language and style, heteroglossia can funct ion as "dialogizing background," against which the wor ld of the novel is set and which reminds the writer that the unitary language of the novel is neither self-evident nor incontestable (332). To illustrate his notion of multiple languages and numerous voices within the novel, Bakhtin introduces the concept of po lyphony . 1 3 He draws attention to the fact that he is employ ing an analogy between music and the novel: " [w]e are t ransforming this metaphor [of po lyphony and counterpoint ] into the term 'polyphonic novel,' since we have not found a more appropr iate label. It should not be forgot ten, however, that the term has its origin in metaphor" (1984a, 22). The voices (6), subjects (7), ideological posit ions (18), or consciousnesses (6), as Bakhtin variously refers to them, are characterized as " independent," "unmerged," "fully valid," "equally authoritative," "with equal rights," and "autonomous" (6, 7, 8 ) . 1 4 A l though Bakhtin emphasizes that the material brought together in the novel is heterogeneous, he insists that an element of similarity is also required to br ing these voices into contact. He sees this 1 3 Thanks to Jenny Lawn for reminding me of Roland Barthes's interesting discussion of the analogy between text and musical score in S/Z (1974, 28-30). 1 4 A clarification of Bakhtin's notion of independence and autonomy may be helpful here. Independence or relative freedom characterizes the characters' relationships "vis-a-vis the author-or, more accurately, their freedom vis-a-vis the usual externalizing and finalizing authorial definitions" (1984a, 13). Their relationship with the other voices in the novel, however, is one of interdependence and mutual influence (1984a, 36; 1986, 91). 39 similarity in their d imension as specif ic views of the wor ld (292-93). Polyphony is not only a way of descr ib ing the existence of mult iple voices though. Bakhtin's pivotal interest in po lyphony lies in using it to explore how these voices interact. Dialogism is the organizational principle governing how these voices coexist and interrelate: The polyphonic novel is dialogic through and through. Dialogic relationships exist among all elements of novelistic structure; that is, they are juxtaposed contrapuntal ly. And this is so because dialogic relationships are a much broader phenomenon than mere rejoinders in a dialogue, laid out composi t ional ly in the text; they are an almost universal phenomenon, permeat ing all human speech and all relationships and manifestations of human life—in general, everything that has meaning and signif icance. (1984a, 40) Dialogic relationships, then, are possible not only among utterances or single words , but also between language styles and social dialects, as long as they represent semant ic posit ions or worldviews of speaking subjects (1984a, 184; 1986, 116). Dialogic relations cannot be understood in purely logical, linguistic, or psychological terms; rather, they manifest specif ic k inds of semantic relationships (1986, 118, 124). Such relationships cannot be establ ished with th ings or objects; only voices, subjects, "integral posit ions," can engage in dialogue (138, 121). Because dialogic relations indicate semantic bonds, their analysis is not possible within tradit ional l inguistics, by which Bakhtin means especially the work of Saussure and those influenced by h im. Dialogic relations are the subject of a "metalinguistics" that deals with the realm of discourse, language in dialogical interaction, language in living totality (1984a, 181-83, 202). 40 Some critics have fol lowed Clark and Holquist (1984, 10) and Todorov (1984, 24) in call ing this kind of l inguistics "translinguistics," because "the term meta-has become so banal in the West" (Clark and Holquist 1984, 10). We may be more familiar today with the terms pragmat ics or social d iscourse analysis. What kinds of interaction can actually take place between these voices? They may agree dialogically, modify, supplement , polemicize, parody, or contradict each other (Bakhtin 1986, 121 ; 1984a, 95, 184 ) -bu t in all cases, they c o m e into contact, which will not al low them to re-emerge unaffected (1984a, 189). Such dialogic interaction obviously does not aim for resolution of differences in a dialectical synthesis because difference remains crucial for dialogic relations. Dialogism has no teleology and is not a prob lem that needs to be solved; it is not about winning battles or merely tolerating the conflict with other voices. Dialogic relations are actually consti tuted by struggle and open-endedness. The value of meaningful d ia logue as negotiated exchange is crucial for Bakhtin not only in his analysis of po lyphony in the novel but also in his view of the wor ld . Bakhtin rejects both relativism and dogmat ism as either unnecessary or impossible posit ions and seeks instead a posit ion that al lows for a sense of moral responsibi l i ty (1984a, 69). Ethical quest ions were at the forefront of his early wri t ings in the 1920s, which have been publ ished in Art and Answerability (1990) and Toward a Philosophy of the Act (1993); after his work on the development of the novel, especially on Dostoevsky and Rabelais, he returned 41 to similar themes in his later essays (1986). A l though these early and late phases of his writ ings have only played a limited role so far in critical studies, I believe that they can serve as a reminder of the crucial role of ethics in Bakhtin's work. In the process of presenting the concept of d ia logism, I have admit tedly smoothed out some of the internal contradict ions in Bakhtin's writ ings. Nevertheless, I must acknowledge with Hirschkop that a term such as dia logism is itself dialogical (1989b, 3). The meaning of this key term is constantly being negot iated, appropr ia ted, and rewritten by critics in concrete socio-historical c i rcumstances, just as it is within Bakhtin's own discourse. Where does that leave the critic? What does she make of the fact that d ia logism, for Bakhtin, not only descr ibes the nature of language, but also is the principle of d iscourse and the universal axiom of human life? After all, Bakhtin explains that " [ t ]o be means to communicate dialogically. When dialogue ends, everything ends. Thus dialogue, by its very essence, cannot and must not come to an end" (1984a, 252). If this is so, how can dialogism funct ion as a useful differentia specifica of novelistic d iscourse as well as an opposi t ional strategy in the fight against ideological unification in language and novelistic discourse? How can it be a useful category in the analysis of the novel if any utterance is already inherently dialogic? Cannot all novels consequent ly be dialogic? I will try to engage with some of these issues as I p roceed; suffice it to say now that d ia logism is not as easily accessible a concept as some wou ld have us believe: "there are no easy 42 prescript ions for interpretation or quick fixes to be found in d ia logism. It is no theoretical steroid" (Holquist 1990, 107). In my own appropr iat ion of d ia logism, I fol low the lead of critics w h o have chal lenged Bakhtin's problemat ic all-encompass ing not ion of d ia logism, rejecting it as a kind of master t rope, and explor ing what Bakhtin left unsaid and undertheor ized. I concur here in particular with Bernstein's approach: "dialogism must be tested, not merely lauded. It must, by its very definit ion, be brought into our content ions as a participant without any guarantee or privilege, rather than as a kind of ultimate Court of Assizes under whose jur isdict ion the debate proceeds and accord ing to whose criteria the worthiness of the enterprise will be determined" (1989, 199). For such critical readers, liberal appropr iat ions of Bakhtin's concepts, which often provide readings using Bakhtinian concepts but leave the ideas themselves unchal lenged, are d isconcer t ing . 1 5 Liberal versions of d ia logism have emphasized notions of exchange, negotiat ion, agreement, and tolerance, focusing almost exclusively on the bright side of d ia logism. A plurality of voices 1 5 Young, for instance, argues that Bakhtin's liberalism makes his writings dubious material for radicals, especially those of Marxist provenance, to adopt (1985/86, 92). Finke identifies a "liberal humanist misreading of the dialogic" that makes Bakhtin into "a weak-kneed pluralist" who underestimates elements of coercion, constraint, and power (1992, 16). Hirschkop warns of Bakhtin's assimilation into a liberal schema (1986, 79), drawing attention to questions of oppression and power (75). See also Stallybrass and White who treat carnival as a wider phenomenon of transgression in order to "move beyond Bakhtin's troublesome folkloric approach to a political anthropology of binary extremism in class society" (1986, 26). Pechey wants to rescue Bakhtin 'from the cold storage of intellectual history and from the politically compromised liberal academy (1989, 40). And Suzanne Rosenthal Shumway suggests that Bakhtin can be appropriated even, and I would add especially, by those "who argue most fervently against Marxism and feminism" because his writings constitute a "descriptive theoretical system" rather than a normative plan of action that would threaten the status quo (1994, 168). 43 is envisioned as several well- intentioned, equal partners experiencing peaceful, harmonious encounters. Terry Eagleton's polemics expose, albeit in an exaggerated manner, the shal lowness of liberal readings of Bakhtin: "[i]t is very hard to believe that Bakhtin spilt so much ink just to inform us that we should listen attentively to one another, treat each other as whole persons, be prepared to be corrected and interrupted, realise that life is an endless unfinished process, that too much d o g m a makes you narrow-minded, that nobody has a monopo ly of the truth and that life is so much richer than any of our little ideas about it" (1989, 188). Critics of liberal Bakhtinian appropr iat ions remind us that power dynamics inform society and novelistic d iscourse at every level, but that liberal readings are less interested in addressing inequalities and oppress ion than in securing the status quo of the ruling classes. |t is important to remember that Bakhtin experienced authoritarian rule and marginalization within an historical context when he was confronted with bleak and hostile social realities; what we know about his experiences of exile, impr isonment, and si lencing sits uncomfortably with a liberal belief in individual f reedom. In Ann Jefferson's words , critics need to take into account that d ia logism is based on a "definition of d iscourse in relation to power itself" (1986, 174). The struggle for power fuels the energies of both centrifugal and centripetal forces. Neither social context nor novelistic d iscourse can therefore offer neutral playing-grounds. Consequent ly, subject posit ions in dialogic relations are inscribed along a vertical social axis, so that d ia logism inevitably operates with implicit 44 principles of dominat ion and subordinat ion (Hitchcock 1993, xviii; Stallybrass and White 1986, 198) . 1 6 Seen in this light, d ia logism descr ibes more than friendly, mutually enriching encounters between different but equal voices. If d iscourse and power are indivisible, then narratives themselves are sites of social struggles, power struggles. However, while not uphold ing pseudo-equality, Bakhtin does not explore the aspect of struggle in any deta i l . 1 7 Recent feminist crit icism engaging with Bakhtin has drawn attention to the absence of struggle or battle as Bakhtin's "blind spot" (Bauer 1988, 5 ) . 1 8 The space in which the encounter, the struggle, the clash of voices takes place is hardly positive or neutral. It is contested ground that is ambivalent, at least, if not hostile. Foucault 's analysis of power relations and his concept of discursive format ion, which I have introduced in the preceding chapter, can help to explore how dialogic conflict actually operates within the social f ramework . 1 9 1 6 Aaron Fogel argues that all dialogue involves coercive disproportion; there are no equals (1989, 180). The acknowledgement of hierarchical registers within dialogism undermines at the same time the charge of relativism that has been brought to Bakhtin's concept. 1 7 Bakhtin discusses struggle and conflict within and between discourses especially in "Discourse in the Novel" and with Voloshinov in Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. In one of his most notable statements regarding the necessity of conflict, he explains that "[i]t is necessary that heteroglossia wash over a culture's awareness of itself and its language, penetrate to its core, relativize the primary language system underlying its ideology and literature and deprive it of its naive absence of conflict" (1981, 368). 1 8 See also Clive Thomson (1989), Mary S. Pollock (1993), Yaeger (1988), Jefferson (1986), and Iris M. Zavala (1990). 1 9 Numerous studies have suggested that Foucault's work could be of assistance in further exploring Bakhtin's concepts, for instance Stallybrass and White (1986, 201), Graham Pechey (1989, 52), Gardiner (1992, 141-66), Young (1985/86, 84-85), David Amigoni (1993, 25-34), and Jefferson (1986, 174-77). 45 If we make explicit the connect ion between dialogic relations and power dynamics, then dia logism in a novel (and the crit icism that d iscusses it) can help to explore how hegemonies are organized historically (Pechey 1989, 52) and to expose such dominant d iscourses in narratives (Hajudkowski -Ahmed 1990, 161); it can also funct ion as a form of cultural crit ique that makes social heterogeneity of voices visible and indicates potential resistances to dominant structures (Zavala 1990, 86). Because dialogism can become a strategy for combat t ing mono log ism by call ing attention to oppressive hierarchies of power, Robert Stam, a m o n g others, believes that Bakhtin's categories are "especially appropr iate for the analysis of opposi t ion and marginal practices" (1989, 21). Obviously, Bakhtin d id not address himself to all fo rms of oppress ion, but he staked out a conceptual space for do ing so. Feminists work ing with Bakhtin's concepts have been particularly interested and successful in explor ing the space for opposi t ional pract ices. 2 0 Where Bakhtin seems to have missed or neglected the not ion of mascul ine hegemony within social structures, feminist critics have intervened to explore whether and how dialogism can become a strategy to de-2 0 The engagement of critics with feminist theory and Bakhtinian concepts is well under way. Consider, for instance, the work of Wayne C. Booth (1982), Richard M. Berrong (1985), Mary Russo (1986), Bauer (1988), Yaeger (1988), Nancy Glazener (1989), Herrmann (1989), Thomson (1989, 1993), Myriam Diaz-Diocaretz (1989a/b), Clair Wills (1989), Marianne Cave (1990), Maroussia Hadjukowski-Ahmed (1990), Mary O'Connor (1990), Zavala (1990), Dale Bauer and Susan Janet McKinstry (1991), Kay Halasek (1992), Pollock (1993), and Karen Hohne and Helen Wussow (1994). Most of these critics would not actually want to claim Bakhtin as a feminist. Rather, their starting-point is usually to acknowledge that Bakhtin omitted gender issues in his discussions of linguistic stratification. Then, recognizing the explanatory and activist potential of many of his concepts, they appropriate his ideas for their feminist analyses of cultural marginalization, subversion, or power relations. 4 6 privilege and disclose the hegemony of patriarchal discursive practices and other oppressive ideologies such as racism, (neo)colonial ism, ethnocentr ism, Eurocentr ism, heterosexism, and c lass ism. 2 1 Unfortunately, very few critics work ing with the dialogic principle have acknowledged not only that "those in power d o not usually engage in d ia logue with those they oppress" (Mukherjee 1995a, 233), but also that it;is probable (and often enough, the reality) that the dominant voice will cont inue to dominate others in spite of the wil l ingness of opposi t ional and dominat ing voices to engage in dialogue (Pollock 1993, 232). Yet, this recognit ion seems crucial. In narratological terms, the relation between character(s) and narrator(s) is especially important. While a character may serve as focalizer to provide much of the information about his/her marginal perspective, the perspective of the narrator can easily domest icate that character's resistant perspective. The marginal voice can be included and heard, yet it may ultimately be subordinated and dismissed or appropr ia ted . 2 2 A critical understanding of dialogic relations 2 1 Diaz-Diocaretz (1989a, 131); Zavala (1990, 86), (1993, 262, 270-71); Louise Yelin (1989); Thomson (1993, 227); Jennifer Harvie and Richard Paul Knowles (1994, 20); Kobena Mercer (1988, 59); and Godard (1990a, 159, 161). See also Clive Thomson and Hans Raj Dua who explain that each article in their collection "explores how cultural forces work in society to allow for or to prevent the production of knowledge" (1995a, v). 2 2 A feminist dialogics of reading that seeks a space of resistance in interpretive communities is another form of critical intervention that can come out of the recognition that dominant structures are often reaffirmed in spite of resistance. However, through these "failed communities," Bauer argues, it becomes possible to "theorize the process by which alien or rival social languages are excluded and silenced" (1988, 6). She attempts to read woman's voice back into the dialogue to reconstruct how it was read out of it in the first place (4). See also Patricia Lorimer Lundberg who develops "a dialogically feminist model for reading" (1990, 296; 1989). 47 needs to be suspicious of and prepared to expose strategies of domest icat ion, absorpt ion, and cultural normalizat ion. These chal lenges to Bakhtin's work suggest that we need to pay more attention to the implications and realities of conflict, contestat ion, and aggression when we explore dialogic relations. Emerson, for instance, f inds Bakhtin's presumpt ion of benevolence underlying all d ialogic relations to be one of the most t roubl ing aspects of his work (1988, 514) . 2 3 More substantially, Gardiner has noted Bakhtin's failure to grasp the realities of power structures and has consequent ly chal lenged his opt imism about l iberating struggles (1992, 176). One of the most provocative cri t icisms has come f rom Fogel w h o has suggested that most dialogue is constrained and forced (1989, 174). If all initiation of d ia logue takes the form of coerced speech, d ispropor t ion and violence have to be recognized as constitutive of d ialogue rather than as an exceptional perversion (179). To see dialogue primarily as a m o d e of conquest (Fogel 1985, 1989; Rabasa 1987, 147), however, directly quest ions Bakhtin's not ions of fr iendly boundar ies and encounters. As Morson and Emerson point out, for Bakhtin the worst that the other in a dialogue can d o is fail to answer (1990, 2 3 A 'nod' in the direction of conflict and risk is a common characteristic in recent Bakhtin criticism; however, critics usually abstain from addressing the implications of contest or violence in any detail. Holquist, for example, frequently mentions struggle in his discussion but does not go beyond a closing gesture indicating that the darker sides of dialogue require more exploration than they have received so far (1990, 181). Danow acknowledges Bakhtin's omission of violence from his discussion of dialogue but does not see this as an impediment to "Bakhtin's positive view regarding its potential" (1991, 134). Both R.B. Kershner (1989, 21) and Emily A. Schultz (1990, 148-150) acknowledge opposition and risk in dialogic struggle but ultimately affirm joy and the potential for change in dialogism. 48 470). As a result, Bakhtin's d iscussions of dialogic relations generally lack any ment ion of suffering, torture, or v io lence. 2 4 It must be noted, however, that these elements play a significant role in Rabelais and His World (1984b) -on ly to be banished again. Bakhtin seems to ignore the danger of carnivalistic violence because he is obviously fascinated with a violence without pain. He is not so much concerned with the individual body or experience; instead, individuals are subsumed into the collective body of the people. Moreover, Bakhtin's indifference to dialogue in his s tudy of Rabelais suppor ts his problemat ic view of violence and makes those thoughts on violence less relevant for my explorat ion of dialogic relations. His discussion of carnivalization and laughter in his revised book on Dostoevsky, which was written after the book on Rabelais, differs significantly f rom the latter. Both carnival and laughter are recharacterized here in less destructive and more positive terms. Can dialogue and dialogic relationships actually become counter-product ive in struggles in which voices try to be heard? If d ialogic interaction always implies the threat of violence and if voices are frequently absorbed or domest icated in the process, then how can it be safe for any opposi t ional voice to engage in dialogue? Pollock has drawn attention to the potential prob lems 2 4 Bakhtin's comments on violence are contradictory. While violence may be destructive in the dialogic sphere (1986, 150), he nevertheless talks about "justified revolutionary violence" in the context of class oppression (1984a, 298). In his discussion of confession in Dostoevsky, Bakhtin avoids addressing the issues of violence or torture altogether. He defines confession as "a higher form of a person's free self-revelation from within (and not his finalizing from without)" (1984a, 294). 49 and dangers "when the weaker voice allows the stronger one into its space" (1993, 238). Because the dynamics of d ia logue d o not protect weaker voices, it seems necessary for marginal voices to control the space into which they invite dominant ones, which at t imes may result in their use of other forms of communicat ion or silence as languages of t ransgression. It is important to note that si lence is conspicuously absent f rom Bakhtin's writ ings, but that it eventually needs to be theorized in dialogic relations. Silence can obviously be coerced, a sign of oppress ion and exclusion, but it may also represent a choice and funct ion as a form of t ransgression and strategic resistance (Hitchcock 1993, 204; Cheung 1993, 20) or as a "weapon of authoritarian discourse" (Wall 1989, 211). As a voice in itself, silence also draws attention to Bakhtin's exclusive focus on linguistic expression (Hirschkop 1989b, 18); voices and wor ldviews can be expressed and interact dialogically, however, even if they are not expressed in words . Taking Fogel's skeptical view of d ia logism one step further, Bernstein has asked whether dialogism is or should be a universal desideratum at all (1989, 200; 1992). Unlike Bakhtin, he suggests that somet imes voices may not lead to st imulating exchanges but may sound like "intolerable babble" or noise (221); the dialogic nature of d iscourse may be experienced as entrapment and damnat ion, rather than liberation (208, 222). Such a predicament may indeed lead to rage, resentment, and violence as a means of control l ing the inescapable. Dialogism as the cause of violence is an unfamiliar not ion in the 50 context of Bakhtin's work and crit icism, but this recognit ion in itself may indicate to what extent readers have internalized Bakhtin's positive sentiments concerning liberating and enriching dialogic relations without acknowledging the negative. Discussing the potential relevance of Bakhtin's theories within the history of the English language, Tony Crowley similarly problematizes the binary opposi t ion implicit in Bakhtin's work between authoritarian monogloss ia and pluralist heteroglossia. Accord ing to Bakhtin, if we desire a democrat ic, decentered social structure, we will necessari ly operate by enhancing d ia logism. Crowley, however, speculates that in certain contexts a preference for d ia logism and heteroglossia could be politically regressive (1989, 83). Bakhtin does not problematize the possibil i ty of such a temporary suspension of heteroglossia for potentially beneficial centralizing tendencies. Al though he acknowledges the simultaneity of both unifying and decenter ing forces, he dismisses institutional forms of ideological unification and organizat ion. When we resist sentimentalizing dialogism and simplifying communicat ion, we have to acknowledge that "the resonance of mult iple voices may be a catastrophic threat as much as a sustaining chorale" (Bernstein 1989, 199). In other words , d ia logism is not inherently beneficial or l i fe-enhancing. No cultural practice is l iberating or repressive per se; its political effect is always determined by the concrete socio-historical context in which it operates and the 51 uses to which it is put by historical agents . 2 5 While dialogism always signifies struggle, it may be a force of cultural resistance as well as a means of conquest . Instead of equat ing dia logism in an essentializing manner with liberation and mono log ism with totalitarian ru le -wh ich locks them into a mutually exclusive binary oppos i t i on - l suggest they need to be treated as principles that only achieve liberating or repressive effects once they are e m b e d d e d in specif ic historical contexts. I am able, then, to concede that ruling forces at t imes adopt dialogic forms and oppressed g roups resort to what I think of as strategic m o n o l o g i s m . 2 6 Dialogism cannot be the monopo ly of the oppressed (Hitchcock 1993, 1), nor can it free oppressed people by itself. As a critical tool it can be used within emancipatory practices and thus contr ibute to a process of historical t ransformat ion. 2 7 2 5 For further contributions to this discussion, see especially the ground-breaking work by Stallybrass and White on carnival (1986, 14), but also White (1987/88, 238), Gardiner (1992, 182, 231: Fn26 and Fn29), Stam (1989, 94-96), Hitchcock (1993, 8), Jacqueline Howard (1994, 51), and Crowley (1989, 89). 2 6 1 have formulated the idea of strategic monologism as an analogy to Fuss's discussion of strategic essentialism in the essentialism versus constructionism debate. The most useful way of approaching monologism may be the double gesture of theorizing monologic spaces while at the same time deconstructing them to keep them from solidifying (1989, 118). See also the arguments by Bauer (1988, 166), R. Barton Palmer (1990, 104), and Zavala (1993, 263), who indicate that monologism and dialogism are not separable but are always already implicated in each other. Palmer argues that Bakhtin seems to give priority to centrifugal tendencies within a language, which leaves monologism an error to be corrected (1990, 106). 2 7 This point has also been raised by Hitchcock (1993, 1, 86) and Gardiner (1992, 192-94). See also Gardiner's critique of Morson and Emerson's treatment of Utopian elements in Bakhtin's work and his discussion of Bakhtin's "critical Utopia," which "must be linked to an anti-hegemonic or transformative politics" (1993, 47). Shumway explains that "Bakhtinian theory leaves little room for actual practice; it is concerned only with detecting the weaker voices in a text, and not with creating and implementing plans for strengthening such voices" (1994, 155). 52 To understand dialogism as a critical tool still leaves ample methodological leeway. Critics have analyzed dialogic relations in terms of themes, points of view, plots, rhetoric, reader responses, intertextual quotat ions, structural elements, and genre convent ions. 2 8 The wide range of appl icat ion is not surprising because Bakhtin himself emphasizes that all elements of novelistic d iscourse are juxtaposed dialogically (1984a, 40). In my readings, I will concentrate on the concept of voice: what kinds of voices engage in dialogic relations; how d o these relations operate; and th rough what narrative techniques are they actualized? Before I can engage these quest ions, one crucial problem remains to be solved: what actually d o I mean by a voice? As I outl ined above, Bakhtin uses voice interchangeably with terms such as language, subject, or consciousness. In his notes for reworking the Dostoevsky book, he turns to the definit ion of voice yet again: "[t ]his includes height, range, t imbre, aesthetic category (lyric, dramatic, etc.). It also includes a person's wor ldview and fate. A person enters into dialogue as an integral voice. He participates in it not only with his thoughts, but with his fate and with his entire individuality" (1984a, 293). I will focus on the notion of voice as such a concrete worldview, an ideological posit ion, a perspect ive. 2 9 This approach differs f rom some tradit ional 2 8 See Peter K. Garrett (1980, 10) and Howells (1993, 438) as examples of the varieties that have been addressed within one study. 2 9 Rimmon-Kenan discusses Bakhtin's notion of polyphony as the interplay of "a plurality of ideological positions" (1983, 81); D.G. Bond similarly explains that the dialogic nature of the novel is constituted by "the juxtaposition of different worldviews" (1989, 877). 53 understandings of voice in narrative theory. In Prince's definit ion, for example, voice is necessari ly l inked with the act of narration, that is, the quest ion of w h o speaks in the text (1987, 102-03). While to examine perspectives as ideological posit ions does not necessari ly entail saying anything about how they are const i tuted in the text, they necessari ly play a crucial role as ideological posit ions in both focalizatibn and narration (Rimmon-Kenan 1983, 82). It is not sufficient, however, . to descr ibe dialogic relations by account ing for individual perspectives in a narrative text. We can only descr ibe their complex dialogical interrelations when we consider the internal make-up of each perspective as well as the perspective structure of the whole text . 3 0 Since dia logism is a relational phenomenon descr ib ing the interaction between perspectives, it cannot be located at isolated points in the text; it has to be actualized in the process of reading. The reader br ings together these perspectives and extends "these distantly separate ideas by means of a dot ted line to the point of their dialogic intersection" (Bakhtin 1984a, 91). Even if a single phrase or comment may be an indication of or means for the realization of dialogic potential, for example a double-voiced phrase, dialogic relations between voices can only be (re)constructed f rom the text as a who le . 3 1 Mere 3 0 The term "perspective structure" is used by Manfred Pfister (1988, 57-68) and Nunning (1989, 76-83). 3 1 I understand "the text as a whole" as an abstract level of the text which is defined by the relations of contrast and correspondence between the levels of characters and narrators. This structural level is created in the actual reading process. Other elements that can be situated on this level are suspense, time structure, irony, chapter divisions, epigraphs etc. Nunning suggests 54 alternation of heterogeneous perspectives, narrative f ragmentat ion, or the simple clash of rival voices d o not in themselves guarantee dialogic relat ions; 3 2 dia logism, in Paul Thibauit 's words , "has the potential for re-defining the relations a m o n g 'voices,' for re-defining the interpretation of previous 'voices,' or even the set of rules accord ing to which the discourse is to be interpreted" (1984, 113). Only if the coexistence of ideological posit ions at the level of the text as a whole is dynamic and confrontat ional, can we actually talk of dialogic relations. Finally, let me identify two of the narrative strategies that can create dialogic relations between voices: the interplay of multiple perspectives and the internal dialogization of one perspective. In a text that uses multiple perspectives, different voices are placed side by side, which creates perspective refraction of the narrated wor ld along a horizontal axis (McHale 1987, 170). But a character's perspective is not necessari ly homogeneous. Internal d ia logism descr ibes a single perspective that is experienced as a mosaic of compet ing ideological posi t ions. 3 3 Dialogization here occurs along a vertical axis that refracts a single character's consciousness. Bakhtin pays close attention to these interior dialogues in his discussion of Dostoevsky; he descr ibes them as a this level as an alternative conceptualization to what has been and still is frequently referred to as "implied author" and "implied reader" (1989, 31-40). 3 2 Concerning the problematic relationship between narrative techniques of multiplication and fragmentation and notions of change and transformations see M.-Pierette Malcuzynski (1984, 80, 83; 1990, 94), Bond (1989, 878), and van Toorn (1995, 15-16, 202-03). 3 3 See, for instance, the work of Michael Peled Ginsburg (1980) and Rosemary Clark-Beattie (1985) on the internal dialogization of the narrator's perspective. 55 number of confl ict ing voices within the limits of one consciousness (1984a, 220). A l though such microdia logues, accord ing to Bakhtin, d o not yet qualify as po lyphony because there is no dialogue between unmerged consciousnesses, neither are they homophon ic (220-21). 3 4 These two strategies are in no way mutually exclusive; novels with mult iple perspectives frequently show internally dialogized perspectives as well . Under condi t ions of such dialogic interaction, double-voiced d iscourse-d iscourse with a twofold d i rect ion-ar ises: "[i]t serves two speakers at the same t ime and expresses simultaneously two different intentions ... In such discourse there are two voices, two meanings and two expressions. And all the while these two voices are dialogically interrelated" (1981, 324). In his book on Dostoevsky, Bakhtin introduces a classification of different types of such double-voic ing which includes quotat ion, reaccentuat ion, parody, stylization, h idden dialogue, and incorporated genres (1984a, 199; 1981, 324). I will introduce each type of d iscourse as it becomes relevant in my discussions. Problematizing the concept of d ia logism has led me to believe that d ia logism can indeed be more than a "fave rave" of the academic establ ishment. If we recognize conflict and antagonism not as disturbance but as condi t ions of 3 4 Bakhtin describes Raskolnikov's interior dialogue as follows: "nothing incorporated into its [the novel's] content ... remains external to Raskolnikov's consciousness; everything is projected against him and dialogically reflected in him.... All others' perception of the world intersects with his perception. Everything that he sees and observes ... is drawn into dialogue, responds to his questions and puts new questions to him, provokes him, argues with him, or reinforces his own thoughts" (1984a, 75). 56 dialogical relations, then we can examine the complex interrelations between dia logism in novels and their social contexts in order to understand the format ion of hegemonies and resistance to them. It wou ld be the resolution of dialogic struggle that wou ld put such a project at risk. As a methodological tool for the discussion of ideological signification in narrative structure, d ia logism can open up opportuni t ies for critical interventions. 57 Chapter Three Storying Family History: Joy Kogawa's Obasan and Sky Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe By telling family histories, Joy Kogawa's Obasan (1981) and Sky Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe (1990) examine the relationships between their female p ro tagon is ts -Naomi Nakane and Kae Ying W o o - a n d other family and communi ty members , as they attempt to place these characters in their historical, geographical , and social contexts. The telling of history is not a simple, t ransparent process in these novels, however, for it also involves creat ing, chal lenging, construct ing, and reconstruct ing histories. The novels focus not merely on what consti tutes the families' histories, but th rough dialogic relations Obasan and Disappearing Moon Cafe explore how their histories are constructed, to ld , and writ ten. To talk about Kogawa's and Lee's novels as storying family history may at first seem tautological, but I want to draw attention to the processes, strategies, and ideological as well as epistemological implicat ions of creating family history. On 22 September 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney announced the Redress Agreement negotiated with the National Associat ion of Japanese 58 Canadians. The sett lement acknowledged the injustices commit ted against Japanese Canadians dur ing and after Wor ld War II, offered symbol ic financial compensat ion to individuals and the communi ty , and provided for some forms of non-monetary compensat ion such as clearance of convict ion records, cit izenship appl icat ions for those unjustly expelled and their heirs, and the establ ishment of the Canadian Race Relations Foundat ion (Miki and Kobayashi 1991, 138-39). Many critics w h o have focused on the role of history in Kogawa's Obasan and the novel's relation to history agree that it was instrumental in influencing the Canadian Government 's sett lement with Japanese Canadians. 1 These critics have d iscussed Kogawa's novel as an attempt to write revisionist history, that is, to chal lenge the dominant version of Canadian history by complement ing and modify ing it f rom the perspective of Japanese Canadians. 2 An analysis of the narrative strategies in Obasan shows, however, that the novel is not only an attempt at revisionist history, but that it also problematizes the ontological and epistemological status of history itself. 3 Hutcheon 1 See, for instance, the Canadian Who's Who for the same assessment (1991, 552). For brief overviews of critical responses to Obasan, see Arnold Davidson (1993,17-23) and Cheng Lok Chua (1992,106-07). For comments on the role of history, see Mason Harris (1990, 44), B.A. St. Andrews (1986, 36), and Gary Willis (1987, 245). 2 For historical information about Japanese immigration to Canada and the wrongful treatment of Japanese Canadians during and after the Second World War, see, for instance, Ken Adachi (1991), B. Singh Bolariaand Peter S. Li (1985), Barry Broadfoot (1977), Roy Miki and Cassandra Kobayashi (1991), MarykaOmatsu (1992), Ann Gomer Sunahara (1981), Patricia E. Roy (1989) and Roy et al. (1990). I do not think of these texts as unproblematic representations of history but as partial constructions; the same applies to summaries of historical events in later chapters. 3 A similar suggestion has been made by Donald Goellnicht (1989), Marilyn Russel Rose (1987), and Hutcheon (1988b, 198). 59 introduced the term histor iographic metafict ion to descr ibe novels that use "dates" and "facts" of official histor iography, but at the same t ime undermine their claim to objectivity and authority because they cannot be reconci led with the individual experiences and percept ions of the characters in the texts (1988b, 105-123). Histor iographic metafict ion thus self-reflexively problematizes the ability to know the reality of those facts and dates. I will consider Obasan as an example of histor iographic metafiction and argue that dialogic relationships between the different perspectives of what happened to Japanese Canadians dur ing and after Wor ld War II expose Kogawa's central strategy in her at tempt to quest ion tradit ional concepts of history and to display an infinite process of construct ing new versions of the past. 4 In Obasan this process goes beyond the suspension of valorized opposi t ions and infinite regress; it asserts the need for political commi tment even if, or maybe because, history is recognized to be a construct ion. 5 While Kanefsky sees "historical scept ic ism" and "antiessentialist implications" as part of "systems of ambigui ty and distort ion" and claims that they are "alienating, si lencing, and politically cr ippl ing" for Naomi (1996, 1 1 , 15, 4 Dialogism has also been used in Cavell's analysis of Obasan (1986); however, he is not primarily concerned with the concept of history, but focuses on questions of absence and presence and the series of doublings in the text, such as the doubling of the narrators Naomi and Emily. 5 Diana Brydon, however, has been critical of using Hutcheon's term to describe Obasan because the suspension of values that characterizes postmodern fiction in general and historiographic metafiction in particular does not apply to the "committed fiction" of Obasan (1994, 468-69). See also Rachelle Kanefsky (1996) for a humanist approach to Kogawa's novels; she disagrees with readings of her novels as historiographic metafiction. However, following critics such as Elizabeth Wesseling (1991), Nunning (1995), and many of those represented in Bernd Englerand Kurt Muller (1994), I would argue that historiographic metafiction can indeed be ideologically committed and political. 60 3 1 , 16), I argue on the contrary that epistemological scept ic ism and an understanding of history as constructed provide opportuni t ies for commi tment and change in Obasan. Naomi Nakane is the homodieget ic narrator 6 in Obasan w h o relates the events of three days in September 1972, when she returns to Granton after her uncle's death, and her ch i ldhood experiences dur ing the Second Wor ld War. However, the novel is not l imited to displaying the subjectivity of Naomi's percept ion and her perspective. Dialogic interaction is conveyed by means of two techniques. First, Naomi's perspective is internally dialogized as she anticipates other people's reality constructs and their reactions and, thus, creates a microdia logue in her mind (Bakhtin 1984a, 74-75). Her consciousness appears as a mosaic of compet ing individual and collective perspect ives; everything she observes is drawn into d ia logue so that, everything is projected against her and dialogically reflected in her. Second, in a montage-l ike fashion, the novel incorporates other genres such as official and private letters, diary entries, te legrams, newspaper articles, conference papers, and memoranda . As Bakhtin has explained, these incorporated genres have their "own verbal and semant ic forms for assimilating various aspects of reality" (1981, 321); each document offers a different d iscourse on the same subject. As the narrator incorporates these texts, the novel creates "a fiction of sociological 6 A homodiegetic narrator is a narrator who is also a character in the situation and events s/he narrates; s/he is to be distinguished from a heterodiegetic narrator who is not part of the narrated world (Prince 1987, 40-41; Nunning 1989, 306). 61 documentat ion" (Lim 1989, 244). It co-opts the discourses of these documents , but Naomi's own responses to these texts are as important to the reader as the documents themselves. To analyze the dialogic relationships in Obasan, I first want to reconstruct Naomi's perspective as she has created and maintained it since her ch i ldhood. Secondly, I want to have a closer look at the documents that have been incorporated and how they funct ion within Naomi's narration. At the beginning of the novel, Naomi's view of her wor ld presents a coherent picture to her; her life is primarily def ined by her work as a teacher and her visits to her family, her aunt and uncle, in Granton. However, doubts about her social status as an unmarr ied w o m a n and, as a result, feelings of inferiority impinge on this seamless picture of herself. To Naomi , her single status must be her own fault, the result of her insecurity: Megumi Naomi Nakane. Born June 18, 1936, Vancouver, British Columbia. Marital status: Old Maid. Health: Fine, I suppose. Occupat ion: School teacher. I'm bored to death with teaching and ready to retire. What else wou ld anyone want to know? Personality: Tense. Is that past or present tense? It's perpetual tense. I have the social graces of a c o m m o n housefly. That's self-denigrating, isn't it. (7) Ironic distance helps Naomi to protect the areas of her life that seem uncertain to her. Her ch i ldhood memor ies dur ing and after the war, especially the unexplained absence of her mother, who never returned f rom a visit to Japan after the bomb ing of Pearl Harbor, are part of this uncertainty. When Naomi as a child tries to get answers to her quest ions about her mother, her quest ions are 62 left unanswered by Obasan, w h o remains silent (26). Naomi's frustration about not knowing finally makes her imitate Obasan's seemingly successful manner. She believes with Obasan that si lence is better than speech: " [s ]ome memor ies, too , might better be forgot ten. Didn't Obasan once say, 'It is better to forget'?" (45). However, Naomi's nightmares, her memor ies of Old Man Gower, and her feelings of guilt about her mother's absence indicate that her silence leaves events and emot ions unresolved. The most important voice in Naomi's internal d ialogue is that of Aunt Emily, w h o is an anti-racist activist living in Toronto. On her visits to Granton, she tries to show Naomi the necessity of a different way of life and a different way of deal ing with the past; she chal lenges the attitudes that are at the basis of the static society in which Naomi lives. Aunt Emily is most ly interested in the injustices that the Japanese Canadians had to endure dur ing the Second Wor ld War; she demands that these injustices be exposed and compensated. Emily's memor ies of the war differ significantly f rom the official versions of the past. She points out to Naomi that Japanese Canadians were dislocated f rom their posit ions of identity as Canadians because they were not recognized as Canadians and were thus denied their civil r ights (33, 40; Jones 1990, 217-18). With the order in counci l PC 1486, passed on 25 February 1942, the Minister of Justice was given the power to remove all persons f rom a designated protected zone; however, this power was appl ied to only one g roup : "all persons of Japanese racial origin" (qtd. in Miki and Kobayashi 1991, 23-24). The War 63 Measures Act legalized these racist government actions. Japanese Canadians were made into outcasts in their own country. No longer was their status based on cit izenship or their birthplace; their racial background was inscribed as the marked posit ion in an opposi t ional structure. They were made into "ethnic others," "enemy aliens" (Miki and Kobayashi 1991, 24). Naomi's ideal of silence is incompat ib le with Emily's way of th inking. Naomi listens to Emily's explanations without interest: "[ t ]he very last thing in the wor ld I was interested in talking about was our experiences dur ing and after Wor ld War II" (33). One of her strategies to protect herself f rom Emily's influence is a critical ironic distance similar to the kind she appl ies to herself: Dear Aunt Em is crusading still. In seven canonical words , she exhorts, cajoles, c o m m a n d s someone - herself? me? - to carry on the fight, to be a credit to the family, to strive onwards to the goal . She's the one with the vision.... Obasan's language remains deeply underground but Aunt Emily, BA, MA, is a word warrior. She's a crusader, a little old grey-haired Mighty Mouse, a Bachelor of Advanced Activists and General Practitioner of Just Causes. (31-32) Naomi's attitude is ambivalent. Her doubts about the efficacy of Emily's att i tudes and problem-solv ing strategies are mixed with a certain fear of her Aunt~"l never quite know when she'll explode" (34)~and her awareness that she is choosing the monolog ic way of resistance instead of confrontat ion. Naomi's refusal to confront other perspectives becomes obvious in her evaluation of the documents that Emily shows her after a conference visit earlier the same year and that Naomi regards as proofs of an unchangeable past: " [c ] r imes of history, I thought to myself, can stay in history. What we need is to concern ourselves 64 with the injustices of today" (41). It is only when Naomi f inds the col lected documents in a parcel that Emily sent to Obasan's house for her that she becomes interested and cur ious to engage with them: " [b]ut on my lap, her papers are wind and fuel nudging my early morn ing thoughts to f lame" (32). A photograph of herself and her mother, given to her by Obasan, starts the process of dialogic interaction in her mind (46). For the first t ime, Naomi is wil l ing to accept the pain of memory in order to revive her feelings for her mother. She anticipates Emily's reaction to her hesitation in order to break d o w n her own resistance: The house in which we live is in Marpole... . It does not bear remember ing. None of this bears remember ing. "You have to remember," Aunt Emily said. "You are your history. If you cut any of it off you're an amputee. Don't deny the past." ... All right, Aunt Emily, all right! The house t h e n - t h e house, if I must remember it today, was large and beautiful. (49-50) The painful memory of her mother destroys the artificial unity of her perspective on the past, which Naomi has so skilfully constructed th rough her silence. She begins to realize that her memor ies are only " [ f j ragments of f ragments" and " [s ]egments of stories" that need to be connected to each other (53). Once the photo has t r iggered her engagement , Naomi is at least wil l ing to look at Emily's diary, which is quoted in the novel the way Naomi found it a m o n g Emily's documents (80-110). Here the montage of the diary funct ions as a commentary because Emily's homodieget ic diary narration presents information about the internment and her own evacuation to which Naomi d id 65 not have prior access. It suppl ies explanations for some of Naomi's worr ies, while creating others. Naomi does not explicitly comment on the diary and its effects on her; but she cont inues her own narrative of past events where Emily's narration ends. The reader may get the impression that the document has been cited without distort ion. However, as Meir Sternberg has explained, " [w]hatever the units involved, to quote is to mediate, to mediate is to f rame, and to f rame is to interfere and exploit" (1982, 145). The reader has to remember that the moment the diary is incorporated into Naomi's story, it is mediated and necessari ly includes something new, namely Naomi's understanding and evaluation of it as she incorporates it into her "story." As a result, the apparent ly unconnected texts develop diverse interactive relationships. Tension arises f rom Emily's original intention to address her diary to her sister, which can be considered the original external context of this text, while Naomi on the other hand uses the diary in the hovel with explanatory and complementary intentions. In the new frame of Naomi's story, Emily's diary becomes double-voiced because it serves two speakers at the same t ime (Bakhtin 1981, 324). Its inclusion in the novel introduces a new voice into Naomi's narrative, thereby stratifying the unity of the novel and intensifying its diversity of voices. Two letters f rom the "Department of Labour, British Co lumbia Security Commiss ion" (173), which explain the d isappearance of Naomi's father and uncle and the departure of the rest of the family f rom Slocan, can also be analyzed as having commentary funct ions. When these letters were sent as 66 orders carrying out the Order in Counci l , they enforced the eastward movement of Japanese Canadians. But while the letters are analeptic in the chronological sequence of the story, that is, they explain past events, they are redirected to Naomi and repronounced as part of her narration (Jones 1990, 222): " [ t ]he orders, given to Uncle and Father in 1945, reach me via Aunt Emily's package in 1972, twenty-seven years later. The delivery service is s low these days. Understanding is even slower" (172-73). A l though these documents comment and explain the chronological and causal structure of the story, Naomi also exposes the contextual nature of such documentary evidence by redirecting and defamiliarizing them. Let me turn to another type of incorporated genre. The newspaper c l ippings that Naomi f inds in Emily's package report the departure of Japanese Canadians under "Canada's Japanese Repatriation Plan" (184-85); they have the funct ion of a contrastive montage, because here two or more passages are put side by side to clarify or expose each other. First, the articles that talk about the happy return of the Japanese to their homeland are contrasted with a te legram f rom a missionary in Slocan to Mackenzie King in which the return is qualif ied as a forced measurement of government politics and is descr ibed as "the cruellest cut of all," " [ejxpensive, inhuman and absolutely unnecessary" (184). However, the dialogic relations themselves have to be activated by the reader, since Naomi does not explicitly explore the contrast. At this point, Naomi is not yet wil l ing to deal with these documents as proof of a collective enforcement that 67 has influenced her view of the past. Newspaper descr ipt ions are still left intact as factual accounts of reality. Naomi is as yet incapable of explicitly chal lenging these constructs of reality as particular readings of events. The cl imax of her confrontat ion with the official documents is situated in the twenty-ninth chapter when Naomi f inds an article descr ib ing the situation of depor ted field workers, which Emily has marked with an index card saying "Facts about evacuees in Alberta" (193). The article praises the Japanese Canadian workers since they are considered responsible for an increase in the product ion f igures for the sugar beet f ields in the province. Naomi's first reaction reads like this: "[f ]acts about evacuees in Alberta? The fact is I never got used to it and I cannot, I cannot bear the memory" (194). The quest ion itself is already a technique to express the dialogic interaction between her viewpoint and the one presented in the article. Not only does she repeat the words f rom the index card to reinforce its statement, but she modif ies the quote by turning it into a quest ion. Naomi's own memor ies of her t ime on Mr. Barker's farm reflect less the economic success than the difficult living condi t ions with which her family had to cope. Naomi quite explicitly resists the article's claim to truthfulness and its underlying collective reality mode l . Naomi shows in this contrastive montage that the facts of the article d o not cor respond with her own perspective: " ' [g]r inning and happy' and all smiles standing around a pile of beets? That is one tel l ing. It's not how it was" (197). Re-citing the capt ion, she begins to understand that such "facts" cannot be accounted for by the opposi t ion of right versus wrong 68 because they are always dependent on the observer's viewpoint, e m b e d d e d in a historical context. 1 Naomi's at tempt to create and maintain an alternative viewpoint on her own experience is mixed with her inner conflict about whether the ensuing pain wou ld be worth the effort. The imagined conversat ion with Emily displays her conflict as the pressure and counter-pressure of remember ing speech and forgett ing silence: Aunt Emily, are you a surgeon cutt ing at my scalp with your folders and your filing cards and your insistence on knowing all? The memory drains down the sides of my face, but it isn't enough, is it? It's your hands in my a b d o m e n , pull ing the growth f rom the lining of my walls, but bring back the anaesthetist turn on the ether c lamp d o w n the gas mask bring on the chloroform when will this operat ion be over Aunt Em? Is it so bad? Yes. Do I really mind? Yes, I mind, I mind everything. (194) The coercion to speak, th rough the imaginary surgery Emily performs on Naomi , may be well intended on Emily's part and seen as necessary (Rose 1988, 223). But as King-Kok Cheung has rightfully pointed out, "read against the dream of the Grand Inquisitor, Naomi's pain suggests that even Emily's method may fall short" (1993, 161). Emily may be guilty of not paying attention to Naomi's needs and inner speech. It does not come as a surprise that Naomi finally breaks her si lence not in a face-to-face encounter with Emily but th rough her imagined dialogues. In spite of her still existing doubts about the usefulness of the 69 confrontat ion requested by Emily, Naomi's response to the condolence visit of Mr. Barker, the family's former employer and landlord, shows how critical and self-confident she has become (221-26). For Naomi, his concern for their wel l-being comes too late and the concern itself is patronizing: "'[i]t was a terrible business what we did to our Japanese, ' Mr. Barker says. Ah , here we g o again. 'Our Indians.' 'Our Japanese.'.. . The comments are so incessant and always so well- intentioned" (225). Naomi's response indicates how much she resents the suggest ion of being an outcast, in 1972 as well as in 1945. She refuses to accept Mr. Barker's acknowledgement of past injury because his words reveal that he still sees Japanese Canadians as others, as excluded f rom a Canadian "we." Naomi realizes that if the record is to be set straight, if Japanese Canadians are to be recognized as Canadians, they have to take action themselves. Her reflections on Mr. Barker's visit end with her answering back to many of those insulting quest ions asked of Japanese Canadians: " [wjhere d o any of us come f rom in this cold country?" (226). And her response reaccentuates and thereby reclaims the "we" that Mr. Barker so skilfully reserves for the white, Anglo majority; Naomi's response becomes a proclamat ion of the collective identity of Japanese Canadians: Oh Canada, whether it is admit ted or not, we c o m e f rom you we come f rom you.. . . We come f rom the country that plucks its people out like weeds and f l ings them into the roadside... . We c o m e f rom cemeteries full of skeletons with wi ld roses in their gr inning teeth. We come f rom our untold tales that wait for their tel l ing. We come f rom Canada, this land that is like every land, filled with the wise, the fearful, the compassionate, the corrupt. (226) 70 Naomi's response not only interacts dialogically with Mr. Barker's previous comments ; its opening phrase "Oh Canada" also evokes the Canadian national anthem. Its sentiments, however, are not those of loyalty and devot ion but take the form of a lament. Parodic references to the anthem occur at earlier moments in the novel as wel l . 7 Naomi imagines the reply of B. G o o d , "the custodian in charge of all the property" (37), to a letter of inquiry by Aunt Emily: " [b ]e g o o d , my undesirable, my illegitimate chi ldren, be obedient, be servile, above all don't send me any letters of enquiry about your homes, while I stand on guard (over your property) in the true north s t rong, though you are not free. B. Good" (37). The allusions to the anthem show how its language and ideology can easily be used in the service of patriarchal and racist practices. Naomi uses the discourse of the anthem to show how a national symbol may purport to speak for a nation, while its construct ion of that nation relies on the exclusion of minorit ies. When Naomi and her fr iends sing the anthem as part of the Slocan school drill (156-57), the voicing of the anthem seems deeply ironic (Davidson 1993, 62-63). Again, the first person plural pronoun does not include these Japanese Canadian chi ldren: they cannot claim Canada as their "home"~they have been made into "enemy aliens"; they are told that Canadians with European ancestry have a right to think of themselves as "native" to the country, while this right is denied to immigrants f rom countr ies other than Europe and even to Abor iginal 7 Parody is another form of double-voiced discourse in which a semantic intention is introduced that is directly opposed to the original one (Bakhtin 1984a, 193). 71 peoples. When the chi ldren are expected to perform the ceremonies of their own exclusion, the anthem becomes a lament for a deeply racist country. 8 The realization that there is "evidence for opt imism" (199) in the dialogic confrontat ion and modif icat ion of her own and other perspectives comes to Naomi when she finally understands that speech and silence d o not have to remain mutually exclusive or paradoxical . Rather, they are increasingly imagined as complement ing each other (Cheung 1993, 165). Just as Naomi has learned to face Emily's documents about the war, she realizes that constant quest ioning, accusing, and searching for guilt are unsuccessful in do ing just ice to her missed mother. Naomi can accept neither Obasan's absolute silence nor Emily's impatient speech with its claim to truthful documentat ion, without modi fy ing them. Naomi comes to accept the relationship between silence and speech as a "dialogic struggle" that is characterized by infinitely negot iated tension (Lim 1989, 242). Within this struggle the opposi t ion of silence and speech may at t imes break d o w n completely (Cheung 1993, 151), so that silence, for example, can become a f igure of speech and even a language of t ransgression as it does for 8 The tension between "home," "native," and "land" in the anthem is also evoked in quotations from Emily's manuscript entitled 'The Story of the Nisei in Canada: A Struggle for Liberty" (38-42). Emily engages dialogically with a line from Sir Walter Scott's 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel": "Breathes there the man, with soul so dead, / Who never to himself hath said,./ This is my own, my native land!" (1909, 39). Challenging her identification as a Canadian in different contexts, Emily tries to change the sentence by emphasizing different parts and transforming it into a question; but her re-accentuations only confirm what she already felt before: "I am Canadian" (40). Kogawa has adopted Emily's text in Obasan from a manuscript by Muriel Kitagawa (Kogawa 1995a, 22), whose writings Kogawa acknowledges in her preface to the novel. In his introduction to Kitagawa's work, Roy Miki highlights the importance of Scott's poem and its sentiments for Kitagawa (1985, 22-23). For the complete manuscript, see Kitagawa (1985, 286-88). 72 Obasan throughout the novel. Naomi is now able to listen to the two Japanese letters she found among Emily's documents , but whose content she does not know. The letters were written by her Grandmother Kato f rom Japan, and they relate what happened to Naomi's mother after the bomb ing of Nagasaki and why she did not return to her family. Naomi interacts with these letters by partly recount ing their content in her own words and at the same t ime inserting original quotat ions. The letters finally make Naomi's accusat ion of her mother redundant. She is able at last to listen to her mother's "voice": "Mother. I am listening. Assist me to hear you" (240). The fol lowing chapter presents Naomi's h idden dia logue with her mother and is the cl imax of the internal d ia logism in the novel. In a h idden dialogue the statements of the second speaker are omi t ted, but the general sense is not violated (Bakhtin 1984a, 197); it seems as if Naomi's mother "is present invisibly" (197). The readers d o not actually read her mother's words , but they can see their traces in the influence on all of Naomi's remarks. On the basis of her new information, Naomi tries to restore the connect ion with her mother by anticipating her attitudes and reactions in her address. Naomi seems to stand on firm ground at the end of the last chapter. She returns to the coulee, which she used to visit with her grandfather; her experience of the land is peaceful, beautiful, a lmost serene. An harmonious tension seems to have been reached: "water and stone dancing" (247). And it is 73 no accident in this final scene that Naomi is wearing Aunt Emily's coat which "is warmer than [her] jacket" (246). Better equ ipped with what Emily has given h e r -a coat but probably also her speech and ac t i v i sm-Naomi achieves a "personal t ranscendence" (79), which has led Arnold Davidson to say that "Obasan, in its last chapter, comes dangerously close to over-resolution" (77). But the novel does not end here. The postscript, another document presumably taken f rom Emily's package, is identified as an "Excerpt f rom the m e m o r a n d u m sent by the co-operat ive commit tee on Japanese Canadians to the House and Senate of Canada, Apri l 1946" (248-50). The excerpt is a ten-point argument against the plan the government devised after the war to return Japanese Canadians to Japan. The last move of the novel is, therefore, to place Naomi's personal narrative in a larger publ ic context. Only this t ime it is not Naomi who is engaging with the text dialogically; instead, the document chal lenges the reader to activate its dialogic relations with the rest of the novel. Because the excerpt emphasizes the political implicat ions of Emily's narrative, it pays a final tr ibute to Emily's posit ion of political activism. However, while the novel foregrounds the political protest of Japanese Canadians, suppor ted by the references to Ed Kitagawa, Jean Suzuki, and Gordon Nakayama in Kogawa's acknowledgement (n.p.), the excerpt is s igned by James M. Finlay, Andrew Brewin, and Hugh MacMillan (250). The Cooperat ive Commit tee for Japanese Canadians, which was incorporated in June 1945, is only one example of the growing number of ant i-deportat ion voices of the t ime. 74 Alongside the legal battle of lawyers to halt the deportat ions, the Cooperat ive Commit tee and its allies organized an anti-deportat ion campa ign that included fund-raising activities, distr ibution of pamphlets, organizat ion of meet ings, writ ing of letters to the Prime Minister and members of Parliament as well as numerous press statements (Sunahara 1981, 138). The publ ic reaction oppos ing deportat ion orders was spontaneous and st rong. The excerpt thus serves as a reminder of a t ime when influential Canadians began to organize against racial discr iminat ion and publ ic opinion shifted, when the t ime for change had come. However, the excerpt also alludes to the second uproot ing of Japanese Canadians which was the result of "voluntary" repatriation and resett lement p rogrammes and well under way dur ing the summer of 1946. A l though the deportat ion orders-in-counci l were ruled to be legal in December 1946, the pol icy had already become unnecessary and, because of publ ic protest, even politically unwise. Davidson sees the fact that the Anglo Canadians w h o s igned the memorandum are set up as counterparts to the B.Goods of the novel as "a reading directive in the form of a crucial quest ion": " [w]ho represents the Anglo-Canadian reader in this text? The three individuals w h o o p p o s e d mass deportat ion or say, the custodian of conf iscated property, the misnamed functionary, B. Good?" (1993, 81). The political implicat ions of the excerpt startle even contemporary readers; the final document chal lenges them, that is, Anglo readers, to ask how it was pdssible that Canada could adopt these "methods of 75 Naziism" depicted in Naomi's narrative and to ensure that Canada no longer does and never will again (250). The montage-l ike narrative structure has at least two effects in Obasan. First, Kogawa allows the reader to use the documents in order to reconstruct the perspectives that contr ibute to Naomi's inner conflict: Second, the montage creates a field of tension between the different v iewpoints that chal lenges the quality of the documents themselves. Documents ,used as source material for tradit ional histor iography are denied their claim to truthfulness. Through quotat ion the documents are re-contextualized, and this exposes them as readings of events e m b e d d e d in a historical situation. Their underlying reality constructs are not s imply "right" because they have collective character. Actually, collectivity and homogenei ty are ultimately seen as expressions of existing power structures and monolog ic control . St. Andrews has drawn attention to the fact that "history often silences the oppressed and glorifies its collective social memory" (1986, 31). In her at tempt to contrast this collective memory with an alternative view, Naomi exposes every descr ipt ion of reality and the past as an undertaking determined by subjective interests and condi t ions. 9 In the end, the homogenei ty of the collective memory is itself unmasked as a construct based on subjective interests; it is therefore revisable. 9 Kogawa has commented that "[o]ne has to acknowledge that another person's expressed reality is her reality, and that's hers" (1993, 152). In another interview, she has commented on the problem she has "with trying to write The Truth, The Real Live Thing, is that I dont think you ever get it. You never get it" (1995a, 34). 76 Obasan presents the reader with a collection of documents about and f rom the past and the attempt of the narrator to f ind coherence in the diverging perspectives, which is only possible through dialogic relativization. A l though the cited newspaper articles and government decrees cannot be changed as material texts or in their original effects, they can be made part of a dialogic confrontat ion today. When they are introduced into a novel such as Obasan, they are moved out of their socio-historical vacuum and submit ted to the unfinalizable and infinite dialogue of the text (Bakhtin 1986, 152). The novel itself has been part of the process of revising Canadian history. It was publ ished at a t ime when Japanese communi t ies across Canada experienced a resurgence of pride and self-awareness in the late 1970s with the lifting of the thirty-year ban on access to Wor ld War II government files and the celebrat ions of the 100-year-anniversary of the first Japanese immigrant to Canada, Manzo Nagano (Miki and Kabayashi 1991, 60-61). Japanese Canadians, not unlike Emily and Naomi, began to explore the ways in which language had been used to impose, enforce, and naturalize the Japanese difference as "essential" and how that difference had then been used to justify injustices. The need to contest the very discursive practices that had def ined them, plus the conf idence and courage resulting f rom organized communi ty activity, enabled Japanese Canadians to tell their own stories, to break the silence, and to pursue a redress movement . Where does fact end and fiction begin in this process? Through 77 quotat ion, double-voic ing, and thus dialogic relations, fact and fiction seem to inform each other and hold each other in suspension. As histor iographic metafict ion, Obasan provides a Japanese Canadian perspective on the events of the Second World War. Subsequently, quotat ions f rom the novel were used twice by polit icians on Settlement Day to explain the seriousness and validity of the claims made by Japanese Canadians. 1 0 In the House of C o m m o n s , Ed Broadbent, leader of the New Democrat ic Party, quoted Naomi's words to reinforce the notion that the injustices commit ted against Japanese Canadians were not abstract deeds but that they caused "profound, serious human suffering" and were "real experiences in real lives" (qtd. in Miki and Kobayashi 148). Gerry Weiner, Minister of State for Multiculturalism, quoted f rom Emily's manuscr ipt "The Story of the Nisei in Canada: A Struggle for Liberty," which is itself quoted f rom Kitagawa's wri t ing, in his press statement to explain that Japanese Canadians fought for acknowledgement of the injustice done to their people because they were loyal Canadians (Miki and Kobayashi 150). The intertextuality does not s top here. In Itsuka (1992), her sequel to Obsan, Kogawa actually traces Naomi's involvement in the redress movement . This novel ends with a descr ipt ion of the events on Settlement Day, 22 September 1988 (271-79): "as I look d o w n I can see Mr. Broadbent.. . . he rises and speaks and he's f ight ing to control his voice. 'They, as Canadian citizens, had done no wrong' " (275). The 1 0 This fact is mentioned by Goellnicht (1989, 306n28) and Davidson (1993, 14-15) in their discussions of Obasan. 78 pervasiveness and infinite regress of quotat ions shows that the dia logism of the narrative in Obasan, which I have begun to explore, is part of a larger dialogic intertext, in which the relations between novel and society are indeed dynamic and reciprocal. "I've been wait ing for this book, didn't know w h o wou ld write it, a novel that explores our history, conf i rms the process of bui lding a Chinese Canadian presence" (135). With these words Rita W o n g opens her review of Lee's first novel Disappearing Moon Cafe. Similar not ions of assertion and agency characterize many reviews and discussions of the novel; the novel's paperback cover descr ibes it as a "memorable and moving picture of a people's struggle for identity." 1 1 I believe that the sense of achievement expressed by W o n g derives not only f rom the fact that this is a novel written by a Chinese Canadian or f rom what stories it actually tells; at least part of Lee's accompl ishment , I would argue, comes f rom the strategies she uses to organize Disappearing Moon Cafe. Chinese Canadian communi t ies have been a vital force in Canada for a long t ime. But because of the severe racism Chinese Canadians have encountered, a confident, self-conscious, and critical voice to tell their stories is still a recent phenomenon. The first Chinese workers came to British Co lumbia in 1858 when news reached California that go ld had been found in the Fraser 1 1 The comparison with the cover of Obasan is interesting: "[a] moving novel of a time and suffering we have tried to forget." The first person plural pronoun identifies the readers as not belonging to the Japanese Canadian community, but instead as the dominant groups that have tried to forget acts of official racism. 79 Valley and that there was a second Gold Mountain in North Amer i ca . 1 2 During the per iod f rom 1881 to 1885, a larger number of Chinese workers, est imated at 15,700 to 18,000 (Li 1988, 17; Wickberg 1982, 22; Dawson 1991, 21), entered Canada directly f rom China: they were sought as cheap labourers for the construct ion of some of the most t reacherous sections of the Canadian Pacific Railway in British Co lumb ia . 1 3 Tolerated in t imes of need, these "sojourners" were no longer wanted once the railroad was completed and economic difficulties hit British Co lumbia (Li 1988, 26). Hidden behind what could be descr ibed as a utilitarian attitude, a wide range of exclusionary policies and discr iminatory legislation was instituted, of which the imposi t ion of a head tax upon every person of Chinese origin entering Canada- in i t ia l ly $50 in 1885, $100 in 1900 and $500 in 1 9 0 3 - m a y now be the best k n o w n . 1 4 These measures culminated in 1923, when on 1 July the Canadian Parliament passed the Chinese Immigrat ion Act, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, which almost completely s topped Chinese immigrat ion to Canada. Since immigrat ion 1 2 1 have consulted the following sources for this all too brief and selective historical overview: Kay Anderson (1991), Bolariaand Li (1985, 81-104), Brian J. Dawson (1991), Li (1988) and (1992), Roy (1989), Edgar Wickberg (1982), and Paul Yee (1988). 1 3 Chinese workers contributed significantly to other new industries as well, such as mining, land clearing, lumbering, salmon canning, and domestic service. 1 4 Consult Li for some more details from a much longer list: "[bjetween 1884 and 1923 the British Columbia legislature successfully passed numerous bills restricting the political and social rights of the Chinese. For example, a bill in 1884 disallowed Chinese from acquiring Crown lands and diverting water from natural channels ... The Coal Mines Regulation Amendment Act of 1890 prevented them from working underground ... The Provincial Home Act of 1893 excluded Chinese from admission to the provincially established home for the aged and infirm" (1988, 27-28). 80 had always been geared towards a male workforce, Chinese communi t ies in Canada were predominant ly male. W o m e n and chi ldren were usually left behind. With the introduct ion of head taxes, br inging over wives was a privilege of the economical ly successful merchant class. A wife became a status symbo l in Ch ina town. 1 5 In 1947 the Act was finally repealed, and the right to vote extended to the Chinese. It took another twenty years before immigrat ion appl icat ions f rom the Chinese were j udged by the same criteria as were those of other nationalities. As a result of the changed immigrat ion policies, the Chinese populat ion has increased substantial ly since 1967; a significant number of people have immigrated under the business immigrat ion program that Canada introduced in 1978 and expanded in 1985. While the capital injected into the Canadian economy, particularly on the West Coast, has been we lcome to offset economic recession, increasing numbers of Chinese Canadians have again become the target of racial antagonism (Li 1992, 272-73). Chinese communi t ies have lived in and contr ibuted to Canada for over 130 years, but discr iminatory practices have led to their systematic marginal ization, si lencing, and exclusion in all sectors of social life (Chan and Helly 1987). With a growing interest in ethnic literatures and the establ ishment of more alternative publ icat ion houses, literary voices f rom the Chinese Canadian 1 5 The history of Chinese immigration to Canada is most often written in legal and thereby male terms; for attempts to correct this picture see especially the interviews collected in Jin Guo (1992) by the Women's Book Committee, Yee (1988), and to a lesser extent Evelyn Huang with Lawrence Jeffery (1992). 81 communi t ies have finally been (allowed to be) heard. Recently, anthologies such as Bennett Lee's and Jim Wong-Chu's Many-Mouthed Birds (1991) and autobiographical works such as Denise Chong's The Concubine's Children (1994) and Evelyn Lau's Runaway (1989) have attracted attention. Sky Lee explains the lack of Chinese Canadian writers w h o record their experience: " [ t ]he silence is a reaction toward the very blatant, very violent racism the Chinese in Canada have endured ... I think the line of trust, in terms of communicat ion, has been broken too often.... Our generat ion is the first generat ion to regain a voice" (qtd. in M. Andrews 1990). In Disappearing Moon Cafe, Lee situates her fictional narrative of the Wong family in the carefully researched historical context of Chinese immigrat ion to Canada and of the Chinese Canadian communi ty in Vancouver's Chinatown in part icular. 1 6 The specif ic socio-historical contexts are crucial for a present-day reading of the novel if we are to understand the historical context of events told in the narrative and to explain how the text is "raced, c lassed, and sexed through relations of power, hegemony, oppress ion and resistance" (Schueller 1994, 4). Disappearing Moon Cafe performs double manoeuvres that may seem contradictory. It acknowledges a history of discr iminat ion in Canada, but by its focus on one Chinese Canadian family, it insists that characters need to take 1 6 See Liam Lacey (1990) on Lee's historical research. Lee uses material surrounding the Janet Smith murder case and incorporates information about everything from immigration procedures such as detention camps, to architectural details in Chinatown such as cheater floors, to the expeditions organized by the Chinese Benevolent Association in Victoria to retrieve bones of missing railroad workers, and references to telephones as "crying lines." 82 responsibi l i ty for their act ions in the novel, even if c i rcumstances are not of their mak ing. Al though the Chinese Exclusion Act, for example, was imposed on the Chinese populat ion and had serious effects on the demograph ics of Chinatown, making it "ripe for incest" (147), this situation cannot serve as a justif ication of incestuous relations. As a result, the novel does not just portray positive aspects of the Chinatown communi ty ; it is not a nostalgic review of past hardships or a present day picture of a mode l minority. Sky Lee has spoken self-consciously of this fact: Chinese Canadians may be of fended; the rest of the Canadian audience may f ind the novel exotic (M. Andrews 1990, Lacey 1990) . 1 7 As the novel powerful ly asserts the presence of Chinese Canadians, it also chal lenges the homogenei ty of the communi ty by exposing its misogyny, greed, and secrets of incest and suicide. It s imultaneously evokes a strong sense of communi ty and chal lenges its motives. Facing the table of contents and fol lowing a dedicat ion and acknowledgements ; Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe provides the genealogical tree of "The W o n g Family" (n.p.). Since the text on the back-cover tells the reader that the novel "traces the lives and passionate loves of the w o m e n of the W o n g family through four generations," this chart should provide some guidance th rough a complex family saga (Seaman 1991, W o n g 1990, 135). However, what 1 7 For Sheldon Goldfarb (1990) the exotic does not work. He describes the novel as "a lot of sound and fury, of Victorian-style melodrama, along with Victorian-style sentimentality about the noble Chinese workers, the goodness of Mother Earth and the joys of women together." His review serves as an excellent example of a white male critic imposing Western literary criteria on a text. Goldfarb's comments say more about himself than about the novel discussed. 83 looks, at first glance, like a neat and straightforward visual aid to the history of the W o n g family is not fo l lowed by a similarly transparent narrative. Let me take a closer look at the tree before I move on. In keeping with convent ions of genealogical research that traces a male-line descent f rom a c o m m o n ancestor (FitzHugh 1985, 106, 117), the tree shows the earliest ancestor at the top and the descendants extending below, indicating marr iages, chi ldren, and dates of birth and deaths. It should be noted, however, that the tree begins not with Gwei Chang or his ancestors but with the parents of Kelora who was W o n g Gwei Chang's first partner and who bore their son Ting An. Moreover, names and dates are only provided for those characters who will play a significant role in Kae's narration throughout the novel; for example, no names or dates are given for Ting An's wife or Song Ang's husband, either wife or daughter of John, or Kae's husband. Attention is directed to the end of the W o n g family line by providing the fol lowing information for Suzie's chi ld: "last W o n g male died at birth 1950." Indeed, the tradit ional genre of the family saga, driven by what Patricia Tobin has identified as the "genealogical imperat ive," 1 8 is invoked, yet simultaneously undermined in Disappearing Moon Cafe. The narrative seems to pull away f rom the family tree, f rom its lines of descent, succession, linearity, 1 8 The genealogical imperative "equates the temporal form of the classical novel ... with the dynastic line that unites the diverse generations of the genealogical family.... By an analogy of function, events in time come to be perceived as begetting other events within a line of causality similar to the line of generations, with the prior event earning a special prestige as it is seen to originate, control, and predict future events" (Tobin 1978, 6-7). 84 and its tradit ional focus on the male line. The family history, which in ancestor research is understood as "identifying family members in the context of their physical and social environment" (Wright 1995, 3), is here informed by a focus on the w o m e n of the Wong family, by narrative juxtaposit ions, gaps, and cont ingencies. As the novel develops, the connect ions between the family tree and family history are sought out but also chal lenged and undermined. The novel does not seem interested in reproducing and transmitt ing the correct or complete knowledge of the W o n g family history but instead draws attention to how this knowledge is p roduced. The quest ion of male origin is ultimately d isp laced, as it already is in the family tree, and the practices, d iscourses, and silences of the W o n g family become the focus of attention. By dialogizing its narrative fo rm, Disappearing Moon Cafe fo regrounds the discontinuit ies of history, the differences and relations between members of the W o n g family, and the affirmation of knowledge as perspective, and thus explores the kind of genealogy that Foucault descr ibes as a means to write a general, non-foundat ional history (1972, 10) . 1 9 The novel is div ided into a prologue, seven chapters, and an epi logue, all of which are further subdiv ided into a total of forty-nine sequences. The character whose perspective focuses each section is indicated by headings usually consist ing of the respective name and a year. Only a small number of 1 9 See also Foucault's "Genealogy, Nietzsche, History" for his descriptions of this kind of genealogy as "[ejffective history" and "wirkliche Historie" as opposed to traditional history (1984,89, 86). 85 sect ions are headed by inserted genres (letters, te legram, phone call) or themes (babies, story, The Bones, Feeding the Dead). Disappearing Moon Cafe opens with a Prologue that introduces W o n g Gwei Chang, whose generat ion initiates the secrets and prob lems later explored by Kae. While five sections are headed by his name (the second most after Kae), they are relegated exclusively to the Prologue and Epi logue, a f raming device that I want to return to later. The t ime sett ings move between 1892, when Gwei Chang first encountered Kelora, and the year of his death, 1939. The four sections of the Prologue serve primarily expository funct ions, creating an atmosphere while remaining vague about what the main narrative will involve. The Prologue contextualizes the novel in three important ways. First, with a st rong focus on memory, the not ion of history is int roduced as a subject-dependent construct rather than a static fact ( 1 , 7 10), For example, the narrator tells us that Gwei Chang "played with his memor ies all day long. Or they played with him" (5); he wonders whether he could believe Chen because "Chen told him lots of strange, elusive stories, but who knows which ones were true and which ones were f ragments of his own fantasy?" (7). Second, the Prologue introduces information about the early immigrat ion of Chinese workers to Canada. For instance, after coming initially for the go ld rush (7), many Chinese men were hired as labourers for the CPR. Gwei Chang was sent by the Benevolent Associat ion in Victoria to find the bones of those w h o d ied along the t racks of the railway; their bones were to be returned to Victoria and f rom there 86 taken to China for proper burial (2, 16, 18; Wickberg 1982, 24). During his search he comes across several leftover work camp gangs. This historical information informs many of the family stories told later in the novel. And th i rd, the opening sections introduce a number of issues through the relationship between Kelora, a young Native w o m a n w h o speaks Chinese, and Gwei Chang, an adult Chinese man w h o has immigrated to Canada. Their encounter draws attention to the complex relations between race, gender, and language explored throughout the novel. The first chapter introduces Kae Ying Woo, a thirty-six-year-old Chinese Canadian w o m a n w h o is recovering f rom giving birth to her first chi ld, Robert Man Jook Lee. Still in hospital, Kae assesses her situation frankly: I'm so very d isappointed. I've been brought up to believe in kinship, or those with w h o m we share. I thought that by apply ing attention to all the important events such as the births and the deaths, the intricate complexit ies of a family with Chinese roots could be massaged into a suant, digestible unit. Like a herbal p i l l - l thought I could swal low it and my mind would become enl ightened. (19) Brought up with a strong belief that families assure people of their places in the communi ty , Kae fol lowed the path of the proper and perfect family w o m a n : she got marr ied and then had a chi ld. Thus, she hoped to fol low the "inevitable logic underl ining life," ensuring a proper beginning and "a wel l -penned conclusion" of a life story that could indeed be massaged into a pill and swal lowed (20). The linearity underlying such a plan was to ensure order, enl ightenment, and reassurance. For all her life, Kae part icipated in this order by listening to and 87 internalizing the family history the way it was told to her. Kae's "close scrape with death" dur ing chi ldbirth (21), however, has created a crisis in her life, a threshold situation in which she needs to re-evaluate her l i fe. 2 0 Time in the chronotope of the threshold seems to be without durat ion, almost instantaneous accord ing to Bakhtin (1981, 248). Similarly, the sect ions in which Kae participates as a character seem to have no durat ion, they are without specif ic t ime references, except when she decides to visit Hermia. Kae realizes two th ings: rather than br inging her fulfi lment, giving birth leaves her feeling frustrated and t rapped; and second, the family history she was privy to was only one version of that history while many other stories had been kept secret f rom her. In the hospital room, her mother decides to share some of these stories with Kae, once she f inds her g randson in g o o d health. Paradoxically, "the s t o r y - t h e well-kept secret that [Kae] had actually unearthed years ago--finally begins to end for [her] with the birth of [her] son" (23). The crisis of giving birth forces Kae to rethink her situation and to explore the possibil i ty of change, so that her t ime of physical healing may also become emotional and spiritual healing. Instead of one family history, one coherent version massaged into a pill, the narrator Kae collects and presents multiple, often confl ict ing and 2 0 Bakhtin identifies the threshold situation as a characteristic of the Socratic dialogue in his history of dialogic prose (1984a, 111). He explains that "its most fundamental instance is as the chronotope of crisis and break in a life. The word threshold' itself already has a metaphorical meaning in everyday usage ... and is connected with the breaking point of a life, the moment of crisis, the decision that changes a life (or the indecisiveness that fails to change a life, the fear to step over the threshold)" (1981, 248). 88 contradictory stories. This new approach to family history is born out of her realization that every history is always a particular history, someone's interested construct ion. She problematizes this concern throughout the narrative: if history can be told in so many different ways, what is reality and truth (132, 191 , 214)? How does history get constructed; whose stories get inc luded; whose si lences loom large (66, 145-46, 180)? The new approach to her family history is enacted through her gathering of all the stories she has heard and now retells. The narrative form of Disappearing Moon Cafe thus suggests qualities of an oral history of the W o n g family. As an oral history, the narrative of forty-nine sect ions is appropriately organized, primarily th rough associative connect ions, and breaks away f rom chronological succession and notions of causality. In some sect ions the narrator explicitly leads into the next one; some sect ions present a particular t ime or event f rom different characters' perspect ives; some seem to be t r iggered by a single thought or memory ; others d o not share any such obvious commonal i t ies but may connect with later or previous sequences. While all sect ions somehow relate to members of the W o n g family and their contexts, only some of these connect ions are pointed out by Kae. As the reader fills in the gaps and completes the connect ions between different s to r ies-what Bakhtin has descr ibed as extending "the dot ted line" between separate elements to the point of their interaction (1984a, 91)~the dialogic relations that are activated between perspectives undermine the discourse of the genealogical imperative. As the narrative seems to move closer in concentr ic circles to the quest ion of Suzie's 89 death, and with it to the end of the W o n g lineage, it s imultaneously expands and moves outward again. The gaps and interruptions, the secrets of what Kae has not known about the W o n g family are fo regrounded. Discontinuity becomes the driving force of the narrative. To argue that Disappearing Moon Cafe presents a recollected family history is also to raise the quest ion of who narrates its stories, especial ly in sections where Kae does not identify herself as the homodieget ic narrator. Some confusion exists in the crit icism over this quest ion, which can be partly explained by a lack of terminological clarity. No distinction is usually made by critics between narration and focal izat ion. 2 1 In the sections or parts of a section where Kae does not identify herself as the narrator by referring to herself in the first person singular, the narrating instances nevertheless fulfil more than mere diegetic funct ions; they are not impersonal devices but become more or less personal ized characters. A surplus of information allows for frequent privi leged evaluat ions 2 2 and foreshadowing explanations that allude to later events . 2 3 But there are also many contextual references that provide evaluative background 2 1 Graham Huggan, for example, describes one paragraph as "Beatrice Wong's interpretation," presumably because the section is headed by her name (1994a, 145-46); however, the first person singular pronoun in the last few paragraphs of the section should be attributed to the homodiegetic narrator Kae reflecting on her telling of the Wong family stories (41). Gary Draper makes a similar mistake when he refers to "a variety of narrators" (1990). I would argue that he means a variety of focalizers. 2 2 For examples, see 8, 25, 26, 29, 49, 92, 140, 147, 159, 164, 165, 223, 228. 2 3 See examples on 16, 50, 159, 234. 90 and cannot be attr ibuted to any of the other characters. Moreover, the narrator exercises a synthesizing funct ion because s/he provides many generalizations that cannot easily be attr ibuted to another character . 2 5 Rather than assuming various heterodiegetic narrators w h o are vaguely personal ized but cannot be identif ied, I argue that Kae is the narrator of these sect ions too, because she retells the many stories she has been to ld and has gathered dur ing her lifetime. In the telling she is no longer foregrounded as a participant in the story. A l though she does not refer to herself, the observat ions and explanations provided are consistent with her perspective, knowledge, and background. This approach wou ld account for her omniscience, her knowledge of t imes, places, and events when and where she was not present. Through this narratological manoeuvre, the novel maintains some of the qualities of presenting an oral history. Hermia so poignant ly asks of Kae at the round-table that Kae orchestrates in "Feeding the Dead": " [d ]o you mean that this story isn't a story of several generat ions, but of one individual thinking, collectively?" (189). As the collector and teller of her family stories, Kae, indeed, becomes the individual thinking collectively, the orchestrator of dialogic relations. While Kae may thus be identified as the only narrator (with the except ion of Suzie, more on that later), focalizers shift much more frequently. Not only does Kae act as focalizer, most explicitly in those sect ions where she 2 4 For more examples, see 16, 24, 28, 32, 74, 77, 93, 94, 130, 140, 147, 221, 224, 232. 2 5 For examples, see 6, 10, 14, 49, 115, 123, 136, 139, 180,221. 91 foregrounds her own presence, but the character whose perspective is the focus of one sequence often acts as focalizer within that sect ion. Thus, perspectives of family members are establ ished not only through the narrator's perspective but also through their own experiences. Yet, the text literally refuses to make final statements about any character's perspective. The frequent shifts in t ime, place, and focalizer keep their posit ions f rom materializing permanently. Kae's history of the W o n g family is a collection of pieces that cont inuously shift in their relation to each other; as each story is to ld , it has already begun to change. At t imes, Kae herself makes self-conscious comments regarding the processual nature of her story ing; the reader must cont inuously adjust and readjust the connect ions between the many perspectives the text presents. Let me take a closer look at how some of the perspectives relate to each other. Mui Lan is introduced as the proprietress of the successful Disappearing Moon Cafe in Vancouver's Chinatown; she came to Canada in 1911 as the "merchant's wife" of Gwei Chang, br inging with her their sixteen-year-old son Choy Fuk. Initially a warm and optimist ic w o m a n , proud of her husband's overseas prosperity, Mui Lan begins to feel distant f rom him and misses the support ive communi ty of w o m e n she enjoyed in her vil lage in China. Only th rough the stories related primarily in the Prologue and through some later references can the reader infer some of the reasons why Gwei Chang seems distant to his wife: he is more concerned with the memory of Kelora and the life 92 he left beh ind . 2 6 Mui Lan adjusts to the lonely life in Chinatown by becoming increasingly co ld , noisy, and demand ing . However, she can only enjoy the economic success that becomes her life's new goal when the g o o d name of the family and its continuation can be assured at the same t ime. To her distress, after over five years of marr iage, her daughter- in- law Fong Mei, w h o m she selected and brought to Canada to be Choy Fuk's wife, is still wi thout chi ldren. Mui Lan's determinat ion to have a grandson justifies all means, whether secrets, lies, or blackmail . Her final offer to Fong Mei is a threat c loaked in a promise: "I know a woman's heart! What w o m a n wou ld deny that yearning for a baby son, or even a baby girl to begin with.... Well, now you have the opportuni ty. All you need to d o is give up your old man for a few days, and soon you'll have a s o n - a n d with h im, security, prestige, honour, and the glowing warmth of a family to look after your old age. What could be easier? And where's the harm in that?" she asked innocently. (62) If Fong Mei fol lows her mother-in-law's advice, she will let her husband have an affair wi th another w o m a n w h o will bear a child that Choy Fuk and herself can later pass off as their own. While Mui Lan reads Fong Mei's body movements , her nodd ing as agreement, and sees her worn down by her mother-in-law's attacks on her self-esteem and dignity, a shift in focalizers al lows the reader 2 6 Consider the following examples. Gwei Chang thinks of Kelora during Wong Foon Sing's interrogation in 1924: "[f]or a precious instant, he remembered another smooth caress. One he once cherished. For a brief moment, he remembered a time when he had soared beyond all human reach. But the feeling passed as it always did, and he was again left behind, always disappointed, always dazed" (78). He remembers her also before his death in 1939: "[fjunny, how he could just be sitting there and the feeling of her lips brushing against his would take him by surprise....But just for a second. Then it would be gone, leaving him to agonize alone. Funny, wasnt it, how she could still do that to him" (235). 93 access to Fong Mei's experience of the situation. What looks like agreement to Mui Lan is bott led-up, barely contained aggression on her daughter-in-law's part: By now, Fong Mei was all but cried out. She still kneeled on the floor, covered in a cold sweat, as if drained f rom some kind of wasted exertion.... Suddenly, she realized that there was rage as well . So, it was rage, pushing her body beyond its limits! Rage that made her body shudder with icy fear. (60, emphasis added) In the free indirect discourse, emphasized here by italics, the narrator's voice recedes and foregrounds the feelings of the character Fong Me i . 2 7 These are the first indications that the once quiet, obedient, and fearful w o m a n who was marr ied to Choy Fuk at seventeen and w h o learned that to live in her in-laws' household meant to be silent and invisible, changes into a more free-spirited person w h o tries to turn someone else's rules and decisions to her own advantage-whi le Mui Lan still believes that Fong Mei's humil iation could not be worse. The change is captured in the fol lowing section attr ibuted to Fong Mei: She had changed these past six months. Where the loathsome living arrangement that Mui Lan had forced her into had once made her b lood boil, it in fact suited her now. Fong Mei no longer felt like she was a part of s o m e b o d y else's plans. And quite truthfully, Fong Mei had never borne any malice towards that poor, unfortunate waitress-woman.... Pitiful thing-just a sore bag who didn't seem to have enough gumption or sagacity to manipulate a better life for herself. (91-92, emphasis added) Fong Mei is now able to assert her own sense of self. In do ing so, however, she employs Mui Lan's very own strategies; she f inds solace in reminding herself of 2 7 Critics have pointed out that Lee too often indicates these transitions to free indirect discourse by exclamation marks, as if to make sure that her reader picks up on the shift in voice. 94 the waitress's social inferiority. Choy Fuk pretends to comply with his mother 's scheme to keep himself and his wife out of t rouble. The reader learns f rom his perspective (94-104), that he feels no sympathy for Fong Mei's initial reservations because "[h]e was a man. And it was not for a man to wi thhold his vital life-force stream on the spiteful wh im of a barren wife. So what if he enjoyed the woman? What could be more natural for a man?" (96). Only through his perspective d o we learn about the pressures he feels when after six months Song Ang is still not pregnant: " [h ]ow can I face my mother, huh? How can I dare show my face in Chinatown, huh?" (102) 2 8 When it is revealed in Ting An's section that he was involved with Fong Mei, and when readers learn that both Song Ang and Fong Mei had babies in 1926, they can connect and fill the si lences by actualizing the unspoken tensions between the perspectives presented: what is never actually said is that Choy Fuk is sterile, which means that both the waitress and Fong Mei must have been with someone else to get pregnant. Since this remains unknown, there is initial worry when Keeman, Song Ang's son, wants to be involved with Beatrice, because they are presumably both Choy Fuk's chi ldren. However, as it turns out neither of these chi ldren is his! By relating the individual 2 8 Consider also: "[w]hen she had first approached him, he couldnt believe his good fortune--a wife and a whore! However, now that he was fast on his way to becoming the biggest laugh in Chinatown, he couldnt help but get a little clouded over, because it woke him up at night now, dripping with sweat, gasping for breath, groping for deliverance" (100) and "[i]t felt good to talk in the dark, because it was faceless. 'You'll have to get pregnant, A Song. If not by me, by somebody else. But you must have a baby.' His voice stripped as bare as a beggar" (110). 95 stories to each other, the reader is able to relativize their c laims: what is one character's truth is another's lie; what is one character's gain is another's loss. Suzie's perspective clashes most harshly with those of other family members in Disappearing Moon Cafe. It is Kae's "unwholesome curiosity surrounding her demise" (191) that drives her to tell Suzie's story--the story everybody else in her family has relentlessly tr ied to silence. Accord ing to the official family version, with which Kae opens her narrative, Suzie had "died of pneumonia as a young w o m a n , when [Kae] was still a baby. She didn't ever marry or multiply" (19). Only when Suzie is pregnant and determined to marry Morgan, w h o unbeknownst to her is her half-brother, are the secrets and lies so skilfully constructed and protected by the previous generat ions of Mui Lan and Fong Mei exposed. Not only does suicide need to be kept a secret because it is usually considered a disgrace in Chinese culture, but what remains to be inferred by the reader is that previous wrongdo ings wou ld c o m e to light and taint the family honour. The first of the three sect ions headed by Suzie's name (171-73) directly relates to the previous one in which Suzie promises Beatrice to behave well and stay away f rom Morgan when she remains at the house alone while the family takes a trip to San Francisco to f ind Mui Lan. The reader learns f rom Suzie, however, what Beatrice does not know: that she did not keep her promise. The dialogic engagement between these two perspectives is further heightened by the dialogic format of Suzie's revelations themselves. She picks up on her final 96 comment to Beatrice regarding Morgan that " [w]e just talk" (170) and begins the next sect ion: "I wanted to tell you how we ta lked, my dear sister. Just saying that Morgan and I talked was a lie, flat and purposely kept so" (171). The direct addresses to her sister ("my antimatter twin," "Sister," "Bea," "my dearest" [171, 173]) and the frequent, increasingly desperate and pleading quest ions create the impression of Beatrice's presence as interlocutor. Suzie's guilty explanations not only respond to Bea's earlier trusting statement "I believe you" (170) but also anticipate her immediate disapproval and disappointment. The quest ions and accusat ions she expects f rom her sister shape the way she at tempts to explain and apologize for "how we got out of control" (173). t h i s sect ion interacts dialogically with Beatrice's and other earlier sections but is also internally dialogized as Suzie anticipates Beatrice's unspoken words within the h idden dialogue. The second section under Suzie's name chronicles the events after she has announced to her mother that she and Morgan are expect ing a chi ld and that they want to get marr ied (193-208). Confusion grows over the quest ion of w h o is related to w h o m (Beatrice to Keeman or Suzie to Morgan) . Accord ing to the official family history, Suzie is Choy Fuk's daughter, but the reader has learned that she is indeed Ting An's child and, therefore, Morgan's half-sister. The confusion cl imaxes when Suzie relates her experience of giving birth prematurely. In this threshold situation, the tense shifts to the present and Suzie's narrative alternates between talking about herself in the first and third 97 person: "Suzie is on the verge of death again; her labour long and hard. Suzie is worn out, gasping for air; I got s lurped in. 'I can't take any more, 1 my dark, c lammy moan.. . . I am drift ing, drift ing up high. There in the dark room, near the w indow, my body on a narrow bed" (206). The threshold experience of birth, its horror and pain, makes Suzie experience herself as internally split, which leads to another form of doubl ing. In the last section that Suzie narrates and focalizes, she descr ibes her state after having returned home (211-13). Again, there is a strong sense of doubl ing between what she is able to do--having lost all sense of t ime, without basic skills of gett ing dressed and feeding herse l f -and how she wants to appear to others, especially to Bea and Keeman, as a w o m a n in control . Only through Kae's letter to Hermia announcing her decis ion to come for a visit, does the narrative tell the reader indirectly of Suzie's suicide short ly after (214-16). To give Suzie a voice of her own, to make her a homodieget ic narrator in these important sequences counteracts the previous si lencing of her story by her family. As a narrator she constitutes herself as a subject, no longer the object of someone else's narration. The strategy validates Suzie's perspective within a complex set of stories that have si lenced her. While Kae's ventr i loquizing of Suzie's voice may be seen as problematic, I believe it is more important to recognize Kae's wil l ingness as a narrator to take the risk of losing control over 98 all the voices involved, including her o w n . 2 9 Moreover, the strategy of making Suzie her own narrator dramatical ly exposes the devastat ing effects of the family's secrets and lies. While it seems that everybody else's stories focus on dispersing more lies and secrets, Suzie's sections exert a centripetal pull in the novel, solving the family puzzle for Kae. But knowledge of her story at the same t ime has the opposi te effect for her: it ultimately dissolves the family history, unravels its artificial unity, and enables Kae to accept family history as a space of d ispersion, al lowing her in the end to move away f rom her family as she leaves for Hong Kong to be reunited with Hermia and possibly to start a new life. Kae's perspective engages with the stories of other family members in three ways. She relates experiences f rom her own past, especially with Morgan and Hermia and as a new mother in 1986. However, dialogic relations operate within these stories as well when her present narrating self comments on her past experiencing self. This is particularly p ronounced when she talks about her experiences with Morgan (41 , 64-70). Moreover, th rough her commentary , for example on Mui Lan (31), Fong Mei (37-38, 154), Beatrice (145-46), and Morgan (136, 159), she explicitly establishes dialogic relations between her own perspective and those of her relatives, which evaluate, contextualize, and chal lenge theirs. And finally, in her self-reflexive and meta-narrative comments she problematizes her role as writer and family chronicler. 2 91 would argue that Kae is not just ventriloquizing in these sections narrated by Suzie, but that she is always also ventriloquized herself. For an interesting discussion of Holquist's notion of "ventriloquization," see David Carroll (1983, 72-74). 99 By retelling and thereby engaging with her family's stories, Kae initially searches for answers, authenticity, origins, and the true family history, all of which she sees as diametrically opposed to the lies, secrets, masks, and silences of her family as she has known it. As she explores the relations between the stories of her relatives, their temporal i t ies and localities, her pre-conceived dual isms break d o w n , and boundar ies blur. As her own genealogy acknowledges and fol lows shifts, disrupt ions, and gaps, Kae begins to approach history differently. History is always made up of a collection of stories, and only th rough their dialogic interrelations does a provisional history emerge. Rather than dwell ing on written sources of history as Obasan does, Disappearing Moon Cafe engages with the fictionality and the transience of a family's oral tradit ion (Hutcheon 1990,, 91). The chal lenge of the novel's narrative form lies in f inding a format or structure in print that al lows for the transit ion f rom oral history into written text. The novel tackles this prob lem by combin ing the centrifugal pull of the complex family stories and their multiple focalizers with the centripetal force of the narrator Kae, w h o is both part of the family history and its orchestrator. Kae's exploration does not pretend to be objective, neutral or uninterested. By foregrounding her role as family historian, the novel/Kae acknowledges that her selections of stories and their orchestrat ion is t ied to her agenda in the product ion of a history of the W o n g family. The dialogic structure resulting f rom Kae's orchestrat ion is d isplayed in miniature in the section "Feeding the Dead" (185-90). Contemplat ing the 100 advantages and disadvantages of being a writer, Kae asks herself rather cynically at the end of the preceding sec t ion : 3 0 [h ] "How many ways are there to tell stories? Let me count the ways! For example, love is a fragile subject matter, too easily corrupted, often beaten dead. Let's take an opin ion pol l : the many and varied ways to destroy love! Oh, come on ! We should be very g o o d at it. It'd be fun!" (185). In "Feeding the Dead (1986)," Kae literally stages a poll of the people involved in her family history, br inging together some family members already dead (Suzanne, Fong Mei, Mui Lan) and others still alive (Beatrice, Chi, Morgan, Hermia, herself). In a unique manner, the section combines elements f rom a Bakhtinian dialogue of the dead, Chinese mourn ing rituals, and stage direct ions for a movie scene. To create this unique hybrid sect ion, Kae orchestrates all of the characters including herself, their voices, and their statements by int roducing, f raming, and evaluating them, albeit rather cryptically as should be expected f rom a movie scr ipt . 3 1 In spite of her role as orchestrator, she cannot remove herself f rom the personal involvement with the other characters and therefore still feels "obl iged" to Fong Mei (187). Many of the comments are organized through anacrisis, the rhetorical device Bakhtin descr ibes as one person's word 3 0 Part of her cynicism is expressed here through her parody of the opening lines of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnet XLIII" (1992, 41). 3 1 See, for example, the following introductory remarks: "I could begin with Suzanne" (185); "Beatrice (if she was willing to talk, I'm sure would respond in a brief, essential way)" (186); "I bet Chi's answer would, as a matter of fact, be very uncharacteristic of her" (186); "I gulp, but I'm afraid I still feel obliged to give Fong Mei the last word" (187). 101 provoking someone else's (1984a, 110). Suzie's first observat ion, for instance, ends with the quest ion " [h ]ow else d o you think she [Fong Mei] could have had three of us over eight years?" (185), which Kae herself answers '"I wou ld say jealousy,' referring to Ting An" (186); thus, she expands Suzie's comments by speculat ing on Ting An's perspective. Beatrice responds by comment ing on the nature of love as one of the driving forces in people's lives. In turn, her warning that it also carries some danger is answered by Chi who undermines Beatrice's warning "Since when has that ever s topped anyone?" (186). Moreover, Chi d isagrees fundamental ly by quest ioning the very possibil i ty of love: " [m]aybe it's just someth ing which people have invented to torture themselves with" (186). Spoken as a general comment , Morgan understands it as addressed to h im, an at tempt to blame him for what happened to Suzie. Regardless of the others' comments , Fong Mei is most ly interested in explaining her actions in the past to justify her behaviour that sacrif iced her daughters for her own concern for family posit ion and money, male l ineage, and her personal revenge on Mui Lan and Choy Fuk. In spite of Fong Mei's at tempt to redeem herself in the eyes of her daughters, Suzie does not believe her mother's explanations and sees only empty rhetoric in her words . Desperately trying to break free, she breaks d o w n : " [k ]not after knot after knot! ... All this bondage we volunteer on ourselves! Untie them! Untie me! Don't tie any more!" (189). In addi t ion to the film scenario strategy, Kae stages several d ia logues with the dead in this fascinating sect ion. Bakhtin has descr ibed dialogues of the dead 102 as characteristic of the Menippean satire; they allow the characters to be freed f rom all posit ions and obl igat ions of ordinary life so that they can reveal themselves with unlimited f reedom (1984a, 112, 140). The living w o m e n are jo ined by the dead : Fong Mei herself announces that she speaks "from beyond the grave" (187)-wi th the hindsight that it gives her. The w o m e n are seated around "a t imeless circular table" (187); while situated f irmly in their own chronotopes, these w o m e n can cross t ime barriers to be reunited. Together they are part of "a classic scenario of wail ing w o m e n huddled together to 'feed the dead" ' (188). Both wail ing and food presentations are part of the tradit ional Chinese death rituals. Loud wail ing as an expression of grief publicly announces the death and at the same t ime mitigates the emotional shock (Watson 1988, 12). Moreover, ritual weeping and wail ing funct ion to reaffirm the cohesion and solidarity of the family g r o u p . 3 2 Food presentations are an indispensable feature of the funerary rites, for they help the dead to make the transit ion f rom corpse to ancestor and facilitate the reciprocal relationship between the living and the dead (Watson 1988, 13; T h o m p s o n 1988, 73-74) . 3 3 Supply ing food becomes a concrete expression of the cont inuing relationship between the living and the 3 2 Such weeping would traditionally consist of sobs and sighs but also of "speeches expressing affection for the dead, hope that his soul would ascend to Heaven, and glorification of his past deeds" (Yang 1967, 35). These speeches confirm the ties between the dead and the living. 3 3 Yang explains: "[a]s in many other cultures, the offering of food and drink to the dead and later the sharing of them by the entire family group had serious social implications. Food was the supreme factor in the sustenance of life, and man's struggle for it had always involved the social group. By offering it at the sacrifice, an effort was made to share it between the living and the dead, thus maintaining contact between the two" (1967, 40). 103 dead, but it also serves to maintain, construct, and reconstruct social networks (Thompson 1988, 74), in particular the network of w o m e n in Lee's nove l . 3 4 Although Kae evokes these funeral rites to rehearse the formal family status and relations among the w o m e n of the family, she plays with them at the same t ime. She quotes the women's chant: Mui Lan lived a lie, so Fong Mei got sly. Suzie s l ipped away; Beatrice made to stay, Kae to tell the story, all that's left of vainglory. (188) The women's vanity and hypocr isy are relentlessly exposed and mocked in these lines. The chant may bring together the four generat ions of w o m e n , but its nursery-rhyme quality so trivializes their act ions and histories that it inevitably quest ions the notion of communa l grieving and the possibil i ty of reciprocal relations. Moreover, Kae self-reflexively includes herself as narrator in this chant, thereby further undermining convent ions of realism in this sect ion. The quest ion remains: w h o or what is being mourned and who or what is being fed in "Feeding the Dead"? Is it, metaphorical ly speaking, the death of love since Kae wanted to explore "the many and varied ways to destroy love" (185)? Are all the dead w o m e n of the family mourned in this sect ion, that is, Mui Lan, Fong Mei, and Suzie? I believe that this sect ion, by presenting another threshold situation, actually stages Suzie's belated death rituals because the w o m e n believe that 3 4 Thompson also points out that a male chief mourner, preferably a son, and a daughter, or female substitute, is needed to make the offerings to the dead (1988, 74). This could be one reason for Morgan's presence in "Feeding the Dead." 104 "her spirit is the most restless, most at risk" (189). The connect ions between the Prologue and Epi logue and their relationship with the intervening seven chapters also deserve closer attention. The Epi logue constructs a f rame for the novel by focusing again on Gwei Chang's relationship with Kelora and by picking up on earlier motifs. The Epi logue ends with his imagined conversat ion with Kelora, remember ing their c loseness and intimacy. On their own, Prologue and Epi logue seem to enforce a f rame for the narrative which reaffirms the male l ineage of the W o n g family, focusing in particular on the patriarch himself. A l though five sections are attr ibuted to Gwei Chang, they are not situated within the central chapters of the novel but have been moved to the margins of the text instead. In relation to the seven central chapters that tell of the women's agency within the family and the internally destructive powers of the family history, the Epi logue seems to have displaced the man who used to be in control . However, Gwei Chang's death does not bring the dispersion of the family history that the novel has enacted to an end ; instead, his death, which is associated with the "New Moon" (217), signifies both beauty and transformation. While I have so far emphasized the centrifugal pressure of Disappearing Moon Cafe in its differences between stories and the dialogic relations between them, I would now like to look briefly at how Lee uses language to create a sense of coherence and communi ty between the characters of the W o n g family and within their immediate context of Chinatown. Some critics have identified 105 Lee's often documentary-sty le use of language, especially the literal translation of Chinese id ioms and col loquial isms (for example, the vulgarity of swearing), as responsible for grounding or root ing the narratives of this Chinese Canadian fami ly . 3 5 While Lee does not incorporate passages in Chinese, she employs idiomatic structures of Chinese and t ransposes them into English. A l though she can still attract an Engl ish-speaking audience, she nevertheless disrupts that dominant language through the translation effect, which Godard descr ibes as writ ing "in structures of thought and language f rom their [minority writers'] native tongue t ransposed into English" (1990a, 158) . 3 6 As a result, the writ ing becomes double-voiced in its clash with linguistic norms. Language plays a significant role throughout the novel, which is fo regrounded in the Prologue when Gwei Chang and Kelora first talk and he expresses surprise at her ability to speak Chinese. Ting An is repeatedly singled out as the person in the Wong family w h o has the best knowledge of English and who, moreover, is local-born, which qualifies him to deal with the white communi ty . Kae admits frankly that she does not speak Chinese; she requires the help of her fr iend Hermia to translate letters exchanged between her 3 5 See also Wong (1995, 143) and (1990, 137), M. Andrews (1990), Denise Chong (1990), and Lacey (1990). Draper, however, criticizes Lee's prose for being unidiomaticand over-modified (1990). 3 6 Other critics have discussed similar strategies under the concept of an "interlanguage" in which the linguistic structures of two languages are fused. Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin see interlanguages as potentially "paradigmatic of all cross-cultural writing, since the development of a creative language is not a striving for competence in the dominant tongue, but a striving towards appropriation, in which the cultural distinctiveness can be simultaneously overridden-overwritten" (1989, 68). 106 grandmother Fong Mei and her sister. A closer examination of the terms used to dist inguish Chinese Canadians in Chinatown f rom the primarily Anglo-Celt ic majori ty in the rest of Vancouver and Canada shows a clear demarcat ion of us and them, in which the other is constructed f rom the perspective of the Chinese Canadian characters. The dominant communi ty , repeatedly referred to as those responsible for the making of laws and policies but also as health care providers (204, 208), are most frequently referred to as ghosts (35, 42, 54, 107, 112, 219, 225), barbarians (61) and devils (24, 34, 6 1 , 113); these terms are often modi f ied by the adjective "white." Vancouver, the West Coast, and Canada are called wi lderness (61), frontier (61) and backwash bush (30). These phrases can be attr ibuted primarily to the focalizers Mui Lan, Fong Mei, Morgan, and Ting An, and less often characterize Kae's perspective. The Chinese Canadian characters speak of themselves and are referred to by the narrator as Tang People (25, 6 1 , 73, 79), yel low people (70), and Chinaman/Chinamen. While "Tang People" is a phrase chosen by the Chinese Canadians coming to the West Coast as an indication of their o r ig in , 3 7 the other two have common ly been used as derogatory terms by non-Chinese Canadians. Phrases such as "yellow people" and "yellow 3 7 See Wickberg: "[t]he Canton delta, as the heartland of Cantonese Guangdong, is distinct.... From a northern Chinese perspective Guangdong was at the margins of the Chinese cultural system.... But the Cantonese are self-consciously distinct. They regarded themselves as 'people of the Tang,' in contrast to the more typical term for ethnic Chinese, 'people of the Ha1" (1982, 7, 9). Because Lee refers to the novel's characters and their language as Chinese, I have followed her usage in this chapter. 107 substratum" were frequently used in newspapers such as The Colonist to talk about the Chinese but especially in connect ion with the idea of a "yellow peril" wh ich gained much attention in the wake of Japan's successes in the Russo-Japanese war (Roy 1989, 181-82, 123) . 3 8 When these phrases are used pejoratively in Disappearing Moon Cafe, they are set off by quotat ion marks: "chink" (130, 172), "Iron-Chink" machine (169) , 3 9 and "Chinaman" (76, 97). Three t imes these words are used by white youths for provocat ion, and once "Chinaman" is attr ibuted to a white w o m a n addressing a Chinese man in a business interaction (76). In these cases the quotat ion marks funct ion as explicit markers of the distance f rom which the narrator cites these phrases. In other instances, however, the word "Chinaman" is used without quotat ion marks (2, 3, 6, 7, 14, 2 2 1 , 223) . 4 0 There may be two explanations for this usage. Within social d iscourse of the t ime, the racist t rope "John Chinaman" had become naturalized to the extent that it appeared not only in newspaper 3 8 In B.C., Henry Stevens, Conservative memberfor Vancouver Centre "built a prominent political profile around the Yellow Peril' slogan" in the 1910s and 1920s (Anderson 1991, 135). 3 9 The salmon-canning industry was one of the primary employers of Chinese Canadians; usually 75% of a plant crew were Chinese (Yee 1988, 59-62), The "Iron Chink," a butchering machine, was introduced to mechanize salmon-canning plants at the beginning of this century and thus to reduce labour costs. One machine could replace about thirty skilled workers. Obviously, the phrase dehumanized Chinese labour. 4 0 Compare how Suzie uses "chinks" with intonational quotation marks, ironic usage: "I bet he [the policeman] would have been too impressed by rich chinks to see anything else" (198). 108 articles, but in political speeches as well as in official repor ts . 4 1 The concept of an essentialized "John Chinaman" not only symbol ized his alien status in the communi ty but it also funct ioned as an image of all men and w o m e n f rom China by col lapsing any class, gender, family status or other divisions within the Chinese Canadian communi ty (Anderson 1991, 37, 7 1 ; Chao 1995, 335, 338). The novel exposes its racist usages but also at tempts to reappropriate the phrase. The phrase itself becomes double-voiced because it becomes subject to the evaluation of Chinese Canadians themselves who expropriate it and submit it to their own intent ions. 4 2 These examples of internally dialogized words are particularly powerful in the novel because their double-voicedness is emphasized by retaining their racist over tones. 4 3 Through these double-voic ings at the level of the w o r d , the novel further extends its process of dialogization to engage perspectives otherwise not directly represented in the novel, those of the dominant white communi ty . For Kae, there is no undiv ided place or posit ion f rom which to speak in 4 1 See Li for the definition of "Chinaman" in the Statutes of B.C. in 1920 (1988, 35). For the use of the term in a Province editorial in 1937, see Anderson (1991, 167). On 9 January 1886 the ten-stanza poem "John Chinaman" was printed in the NanaimoFree Press (Roy 1989, 64-65). See also W. Peter Ward's chapter on "John Chinaman" (1990, 3-22). 4 2 See Bakhtin (1981, 294; 1984, 195) and Morson and Emerson (1990, 325-29). 4 3 Anderson has explored how the Chinese Canadian community has used such phrases or classifications of "Chinese/Chineseness" "in part to offset the history of negative stereotyping and as a means of self-identification and economic gain" (1991,179). See also Heesok Chang's comments on Sharen Yuen's John Chinaman installation, which was part of the Self Not Whole: Cultural Identity and Chinese-Canadian Artists in Vancouver, 2-30 Nov., 1991, Chinese Cultural Centre (225-26). Lee contributed a literary reading to the event (1994, 240). 109 this novel. She is both insider and outsider, in Canada, in China, and in particular in the Chinese Canadian communi ty . As Trinh Minh-ha explains, [ t ]he moment the insider steps out f rom the inside, she is no longer a mere insider (and vice versa). She necessari ly looks in f rom the outside while also looking out f rom the inside. Like the outsider, she steps back and records what never occurs to her the insider as being wor th or in need of record ing. But unlike the outsider, she also resorts to non-explicative, non-totalizing strategies that suspend meaning and resist closure. (This is often viewed by the outsiders as strategies of partial concealment and disclosure a imed at preserving secrets that should only be imparted to initiates.).... she stands in that undetermined threshold place where she constantly drifts in and out. Undercutt ing the inside/outside opposi t ion, her intervention is necessari ly that of both a deceptive insider and a deceptive outsider. (1991, 74) Kae is the deceptive insider/outsider w h o is aware of her posi t ioning, as a member of her communi ty and family, but also as the narrator in the novel. While she may overestimate her role ("I am the resolution to this story" ), she breaks the silence of her family, her Chinatown communi ty , and the dominant culture. Joy Kogawa and Sky Lee resort to strategies shared by many writers in colonized spaces: " fragmenting the homogeneous structures that smooth over differences; decentr ing the language, complement ing one voice with another f rom a different space, including the silences previously exc luded; foregrounding the problematic nature of language itself" (Brydon 1987, 105). The effect of these strategies in the narrative structures of Obasan and Disappearing Moon Cafe are dialogic relations between multiple perspectives. In both novels these perspectives do not interact on a level playing-f ield; various forms of hierarchies 110 and oppress ion inform the contexts in which perspectives operate. While Obasan and Disappearing Moon Cafe employ dialogism as their guid ing narrative strategy, they d o so in different ways and, I believe, with slightly different purposes. Both novels manage to stay largely within the convent ions of realism but succeed in contest ing them at the same t ime through their overlap with history, auto/b iography, and storytell ing. The histor iographic metafict ion of Obasan focuses on the written products of history and incorporates other genres, government documents , newspaper reports, official letters, to expose and ultimately chal lenge a hegemonic history, written and suppor ted by these documents , that serves the dominant discourse. Lee, on the other hand, chooses not to reiterate d iscourses that have encouraged her family's and communi ty 's si lences and prefers to speak her own silences th rough the story-telling of her fictional Chinese Canadian family (Chalykoff 1994, 26). Disappearing Moon Cafe may also be thought of as histor iographic metafict ion, but its focus is the exploration of oral history because it looks inward, into the stories of the Chinese Canadian communi ty in Vancouver, into the stories of the W o n g family in particular. While Kogawa chal lenges the notion that a written document represents a fact that is irreversibly f ixed, Lee suggests that the oral is no more fictional than the written is factual. In their at tempts to reconstruct, reconsider, and chal lenge versions of history, Naomi and Kae are aware that they are reconfiguring their own 111 identities. To story their family's histories is always also to story their own identities. While Obasan is the private interior narrative of Naomi rendered into publ ic d iscourse through Kogawa's novel (Davey 1993, 111), Lee's protagonist Kae is a writer who reflects critically on her own orchestrat ion of stories, the construct ion of history through stories, and the shaping of her identity in the process. Al though this metafictional element in Disappearing Moon Cafe is consistent, it remains obscure and problematic throughout the novel because the reader cannot be sure whether the novel Kae is writ ing is the novel we read or whether what we read is Kae's preliminary collection of stories before she starts wri t ing. And yet, a crucial difference emerges in the way the novels conceptual ize history. While it wou ld be difficult to reduce Obasan to Aunt Emily's posit ion, her approach to history nevertheless seems to dominate the novel. Accord ing to Emily, it is possible "to get the facts straight" (183), so that once Japanese Canadians speak out, the right version of history can. be writ ten. Al though Emily calls for revisionist history, her reliance on t ightness ' does not chal lenge the concept of history itself (Davey 1993, 103). Moreover, the novel seems to chal lenge the injustices commit ted against Japanese Canadians on the g rounds of a universal humanism that insists on the equal standing of all as it seeks out the commonal i t ies among races rather than deploying a d iscourse of difference (Kogawa 1984, 21). Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe, on the other hand, uses dia logism to a 112 different end. Difference and particularity are crucial in the stories of the W o n g family which Kae orchestrates. She self-consciously presents her family history as one configurat ion of history only; she understands and enacts genealogy as dispersion rather than as a return to origins. The novel relies not so much on a cont inuous drive to get th ings 'right1, as it holds dual impulses in suspense. The stories are at t imes constructive and then disintegrative; they explain and obscure. Kae's orchestrat ion affirms a sense of communi ty and chal lenges that communi ty at the same t ime. Family history is important but cannot be considered transparent. To reconstruct the stories of other family members helps to shape Kae's own sense of self, while simultaneously undermining that identity. She is always both insider and outsider in the stories she tells and in the family of which she is a part. Lee activates, or better, she asks the reader to activate the dialogic tensions between the stories. As a result, the dialogic struggles I have just outl ined contr ibute to the performative quality of her novel. The predominant m o d e of storytell ing allows her to write a fictional oral history that funct ions as a strategy of revision "supplemented by historical interruption" (McFarlane 1995, 26). At this point of interruption, it provisionally stages the subjectivit ies of its protagonists through race, gender, and class in the Chinese Canadian communi ty . I believe this performative aspect in Lee's novel resists a discussion that at tempts to make the work ings of the novel transparent. Any story to ld in the novel is dialogically related to all the others, so that any comment on an 113 isolated incident or comment within a story becomes reductive. That the dialogic relations of Obasan and Disappearing Moon Cafe have such different effects may be related to the t ime of their publ icat ion and the present situation of Japanese and Chinese Canadian communi t ies. Obasan was publ ished at a t ime when discussions leading to the 1982 Charter of Rights were well under way in Canada. The constitutional affirmation of equality a m o n g Canada's consti tuent g roups set the tone for many formerly subordinated g roups "to seek recognit ion of, and restitution for, the past," which for many meant to organize redress movements (James 1995, 14). I believe that Obasan is informed by and has contr ibuted to the redress movement of Japanese Canadian communi t ies. By exposing the consequences of the injustices commi t ted against Japanese Canad ians- the loss of communi ty , the repression of memory, the psychological p rob lems- the novel enacts "a form of recuperat ion and of exorcism" (Omatsu 1992, 171). Within the novel, the investigation of Naomi's psychological t rauma requires that the context of Aunt Emily's involvement be placed in a broader social movement ; similarly, the redress movement enabled and required Kogawa to break a personal silence and bear witness to the past of official racism in the novel (Kogawa 1984, 24; Cheung 1993, 153). The negotiat ion of the sett lement in 1988 gave the Japanese Canadian communi ty a new authority to speak on constitut ional civil liberties, which became evident in their contr ibut ions to the parl iamentary hearings on the Charlot tetown constitutional proposals. As Omatsu comments on the Redress 114 Settlement: "we are learning that the potential for flexing our political muscle is l imited only by our inability to see beyond our own backyards" (1992, 169-70). The redress movement of Chinese Canadian communi t ies has drawn less attention than that of Japanese Canadians. The insistence on symbol ic f inancial compensat ion for the imposit ion of a head tax between 1895 and 1923 has been similarly s t rong, but their c laims, together with those of seven other redress organizat ions, were rejected in December 1994 by the Minister of Secretary of State for Mult iculturalism, Sheila Finestone. While recognizing the historical contexts that have contr ibuted to the communi ty 's situation today, Lee seems more interested in understanding how individual family members worked within these parameters. Therefore, Disappearing Moon Cafe takes a closer look at the Chinese Canadian communi ty itself. The dominant d iscourses within the communi ty are exposed and its internal heterogeneity is fo regrounded. Resisting the essentialization of the communi ty , Lee reaffirms internal differences in a genealogy of d ispersion. The novel may seem less obviously informed by the effects of the Charter of Rights, but that impression may be wrong because the affirmation of equal status may well have encouraged a closer, more critical examination of the communi ty . 115 Chapter Four Processes of Un/reading in Daphne Marlatt's Ana Historic and Aritha van Herk's Places Far From Ellesmere In one of her imagined conversat ions with her mother Ina in Ana Historic, Annie tries to explain what it means to her to tell a story: "if i'm telling a story i'm untell ing it. untelling the real" (141). Unlike Ina, who believes that "you can't rewrite what's been written" (142), Annie not only untells and rewrites what has been written but she also speaks the silence of what has not been written. Similarly, the narrator of Places Far From Ellesmere takes Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenin to Ellesmere Island in order to set Anna free and to imagine her unwritten story: " [k jnowing that this story, all that is writ ten, can be un/read, uninscr ibed" (113). The process of un/reading is a recurrent motif in Aritha van Herk's Places Far From Ellesmere (1990) and Daphne Marlatt's Ana Historic (1988). Both texts chal lenge fixed categories of reality, f ict ion, genre, gender, sexuality, and social d iscourse, showing how they have determined representat ions of w o m e n in history and literature. In their at tempt to cross establ ished borders, 1 they deconstruct naturalized categories and offer 1 Hutcheon develops the notion of "border-crossings" in her review of Marlatt's-Ana Historic but limits it to a discussion of genre classifications (1988c, 17). 116 alternative construct ions f rom new perspectives. These two actions are performed simultaneously in what Marlatt has descr ibed as fiction theory. Her definition is a helpful start ing-point in my readings of Ana Historic and Places Far From Ellesmere. "Fiction theory," Marlatt explains, is a corrective lens which helps us see through the f iction we've been condi t ioned to take for the real, f ictions which have not only constructed woman's 'place' in patriarchal society but have constructed the very 'nature' of w o m a n (always that which has been), f iction theory deconstructs these f ict ions while fiction theory, conscious of itself as f ict ion, offers a new angle on the "real," one that looks f rom inside out rather than outside in (the difference between w o m a n as subject and w o m a n as object) . (Marlatt et al. 1986, 9) In this chapter I will explore the un/readings that these texts perform. I will examine in detail Marlatt's and van Herk's play with genre convent ions, the interaction of their narratives, the use of incorporated documents , the relationships between w o m e n and nature, and the orchestrat ion of endings. My readings will try to determine to what extent d ia logism is used in Marlatt's and van Herk's texts to expose hegemonic discourses and at the same t ime inscribe counter-discourses. Accord ing to its title, Ana Historic is a novel, but many of its characterist ics defamiliarize that label: a lack of linear plot development, f ragmentary paragraphs, unusual dict ion, blank pages, unnumbered pages, divider pages that use white space to foreground single lines, arbitrary headings, italicized paragraphs, an acknowledgement page that lists eleven source texts, to name only a few. On one of the divider pages the reader is to ld explicitly that 117 "a book of interruptions is not a novel" (37). Does that mean that Ana Historic is not a book of interruptions or that it is not a novel after all? Paradoxically, it is both a novel and full of interruptions. Marlatt chal lenges the reader's familiar ways of seeing and being seen and th rough "dialogic play" sharpens her awareness of what novelistic d iscourse legitimizes (Lowry 1991, 85). In an interview with George Bowering, Marlatt explains that in Ana Historic she tries to " [d]econstruct the novel" in its conventional fo rm, in particular by undermining the novel's sense of continuity in a plot that is tradit ionally dominated by one central line of development to which everything else is subordinated (1989, 104). The debate over whether Ana Historic is a novel or not ultimately seems superf luous. Marlatt's impl ied adherence to novelistic convent ion, indicated by the subtitle, serves as her point of departure and drives the subversive gestures of the novel . 2 Van Herk pursues similar goals of generic subversion but chooses a different strategy. Readers w h o think of genres as p roduc ts -g i ven , f ixed, and na tu ra l -may want to descr ibe Places Far From Ellesmere as a "genreless book" (Thomas 1991, 70; Go ldman 1993, 31); tradit ional categories d o not apply and 2 In "Blurring Genres: Fictioneer as Ficto-Critic," van Herk criticizes similar debates over Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion and describes critics' disapproval and their need for familiar genre categorizations as "assembly line sorting" (1991, 38). A number of critics have used alternative descriptors to approach Marlatt's novel. Pamela Banting, for example, has discussed Ana Historic in connection with her reading of Marlatt's translation poetics (1991, 125); Manina Jones has focused her discussion of the novel around the notion of a documentary collage (1993,141); Stan Dragland considers the text as "historiographic metafiction" but ultimately finds Marlatt's own concept of "fictionalysis" for a hybrid text of fiction and autobiobiography more suitable (1991,176-77). Peggy Kelly (1995) reads Ana Historic and Gail Scott's Heroine as examples of fiction theory. 118 "geograf ic t ione"- the term coined by van Herk for the sub t i t l e -may not be part of the critic's vocabulary. 3 Unlike Marlatt, van Herk does not chal lenge generic convent ions of the novel f rom within the literary tradit ion; she introduces a new term instead. She has identified genre as one of the tools of a patriarchal literary tradit ion and therefore seeks to t ransgress its generic convent ions, to refuse the reader the comfort of categories, and thus to reinscribe genre as a process in which the reader is actively engaged (van Herk 1991, 38; Manera 1995, 87). To cross familiar genre boundar ies and inscribe a new generic location becomes a political act for van Herk (Buss 1993, 197); she is prepared to accept the cost of marginalization in exchange for liberating effects: cross-boundary writ ing asserts some powerful reconstructivit ies.... By estranging themselves f rom the safety zone of genre, they [such texts] participate in their own marginalization.... their refusal of an authenticating space permits them to quest ion the persistent locations of race, gender, nation, and language. "To ... inhabit the border country of frontiers and margins robs discourse of a concil iatory conclusion" (Chambers, 116). It is as refugees f rom concil iation that such writ ing locates its praxis, in exchange for the f reedom to quest ion the master/piece and the concomitant t ime/piece of linear and structural narrative that such pal impsest ic ism offers, (van Herk 1993, 16-17) But what is a geografict ione? The term combines geography, f ict ion, and the ending -e, which in many Indo-European languages marks the feminine 3 Many critics use other, more familiar genre labels to discuss Places Far From Ellesmere, for example, "collage," "geographically located, feminist-literary fantasy" (Kirkwood 1991, 29), "autobiographical text" (Buss 1993, 200), and "autobiographical essays" (Wilson 1991, 43; Buss 1993, 200). The narrator is self-conscious about not following conventions of novelistic discourse; "[i]f this were a novel," she says, she could predict the narrative development (106). The narrator also reflects on being a character in a larger novel (118). 119 fo rm. Rather than a modif ier-head structure, in which geography modif ies f ict ion, van Herk indicates the reversibility of its components when her narrator comments on Edberg : "Edberg: this place, this vil lage and its environs. A f iction of geography /geography of f ict ion: coming together in people and landscape and the harboured designat ion of fickle memory" (40). Van Herk has developed the connect ion between geography and fiction in "Mapping as Metaphor: The Cartographer 's Revision" (1992, 54-68). She argues here that "mapp ing, like language, is creation more than representation and so it is not il logical to think of f iction as cartography" (58). Because geography always relies on an observer, it will always be a subject-dependent fiction rather than an objective fact; in turn, by tell ing stories, f iction tries to provide a map for experience, subjectivity, and nat ion. 4 The term geograf ict ione therefore descr ibes a literary genre (as the subtitle indicates) and descr ibes a place ("This geograf ict ione, this Ellesmere" ). The perspective f rom which the mutual implications of geography and fiction are explored is that of a w o m a n , as the feminine ending of geograf ict ione already suggests. Van Herk foregrounds the idea that geography, mapp ing , and fiction cannot be neutral/neuter; as the narrator realizes in her explorat ions, all three discourses, as she knows them, have been written by men, while the 4 Consider also van Herk's comment in the same essay: "[t]he only way a country can be truly mapped is with its stories" (1992,58). In his conversation with Margaret Laurence, Kroetsch similarly explains that "we havent got an identity until somebody tells our story. The fiction makes us real" (1970, 63). Four years later, however, Kroetsch revisits this idea in "Unhiding the Hidden": "[a]t one time I considered it the task of the Canadian writer to give names to his experience, to be the namer. I now suspect that on the contrary, it is his task to un-name" (1983, 17). The relevance of these ideas is obvious in Robert Lecker's Making It Real (1995). 120 perspectives of w o m e n have been si lenced and marginal ized by a patriarchal tradit ion. Places Far From Ellesmere opens up the spaces of interconnection between place and fiction in order to inscribe alternatives. Van Herk's geograf ict ione is divided into four sections, which focus on four different places: Edberg , Edmonton , Calgary, and Ellesmere. The second subtitle, "explorations on site," raises a number of interesting issues. The c o m m o n understanding of exploration as a systematic investigation of unfamiliar, unknown regions for scientific purposes is both evoked and undermined in van Herk's geograf ict ione. The observational character of the first three sections suggests such a project of investigation on location. But the narrator seems to reconstruct these sites f rom memory , th rough associat ion. No scientific purposes drive the narrative; the narrator instead explores places as they relate to her own life, her personal experiences, her memor ies, her " landscapes of the mind" (Porteous 1990). In the narrator's at tempt to write her own experience, the discourses of geography and history become closely connected. The matrix of place and t ime becomes a way of understanding exper ience-a notion that Bakhtin explores th rough the concept of the "chronotope." 5 Meaning, Bakhtin argues, is only possible "through the gates of the chronotope" (1981, 258). I propose that the four sections of Places Far From Ellesmere relate to each other 5 Bakhtin was dissatisfied with the way aspects of time and place had been treated separately in literary criticism. He used the chronotope to capture the "intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships that are artistically expressed in literature" (1981, 84). 121 dialogically th rough their respective chronotopes . 6 A number of observat ions suppor t such a relational reading. In the reconstruct ion of the exploration sites, explicit references to the other locations show how each section is informed by and reflects on the others in the narrator's exper ience. 7 The ongo ing reconfigurat ion of places occurs as the narrator (and reader) reads towards and then back th rough Ellesmere. The title itself suggests a relational focus: Places Far From Ellesmere. While the head of the phrase is "places," these places are considered and situated in relation to one particular site, Ellesmere. "Far" itself implies the interdependent place/t ime matrix of the chronotope; "far" indicates distance and remoteness in spatial but also in tempora l terms. In the first three sections the narrator establishes different chronotopes by associat ing each city with a t ime in her life: Edberg with ch i ldhood and teens, Edmonton with university years, Calgary with work and adult life. She explores these places by reading them through already existing maps and creating her own map as she goes a long. A l though these maps may not be adequate as referential guides, they operate as ways to organize, orient and control the personal, social and cultural experiences of the narrator (Huggan 1994b, 14). 6 See Bakhtin on the interrelation of chronotopes: "[cjhronotopes are mutually inclusive, they co-exist, they may be interwoven with, replace or oppose one another, contradict one another or find themselves in ever more complex relationships.... The general characteristic of these interactions is that they are dialogical (in the broadest use of the word)" (1981, 252). 7 Note the cross-referencing to Edberg (79, 83, 86, 113, 140), Edmonton (79, 81, 83, 86, 113, 141), and Calgary (83, 86, 113, 141). 122 The narrator contemplates the quest ion of representation and the status of maps . Maps can be neither object ive nor totally exact; they are resemblances of the environment and funct ion, therefore, not as copies but as models of reality. Can such a map then be considered factual? Or "is it all an elaborate fabrication," the narrator wonders (15). Compar ing her memory of Edberg to other people's recollections, she realizes that there are "other originals" (37): "their versions negate yours" (37-38). The narrator creates two kinds of maps, the boundar ies of which increasingly blur: maps that at tempt to model her environment and maps that represent her experiences of places. The narrator begins the exploration of Edberg by paying close attention to physical location, which is indicated primarily th rough the use of numerous preposi t ions: A welt in the parkland on the raise between Dried Meat Lake and Meeting Creek, just off the Donalda/Duhamel trail: snagged between c lumps of poplar and willow, the steady infusion of a prairie vapour f rom the everywhere tenacious low-growing rose bushes. (13) There might have been a trail passed here, that cart trail th rough this region partly w o o d e d and with scattered trees and coppice (J.B. Tyrell, 1887) once, a trail that angled across the sections and quarter-sections without the ninety-degree angles of the survey crews ... a trail that led between communi t ies, between schools, between s topping places and boarding houses (with their lice and g o o d company) , between general stores, between horse-barns. (13-14) She provides a detailed account of various locations she inspects and their spatial relation to each other in order to assess whether they still exist. Her map 123 thus becomes a map of place and t ime, a map with its own chronotope. The narrator examines publ ic places, the cart trail, the creamery, the cafes, the town p u m p , the blacksmith shop, the hotel, post office and many more to f ind out which sites are gone, which ones have changed or have remained: "disappearing locations of appearances: sites of seeing" (29). The other map is one of personal experiences; it notes "allowances" and "forbiddences" (24-29) and memor ies associated with the bui ldings, streets and sites m a p p e d before. As the narrator shows, her maps of Edberg always revolve around the presence of the mapmaker herself. Her maps cannot claim neutrality but are instead a form of personal and social knowledge that is determined by the coordinates of place, t ime, and her own subjectivity. Therefore, like these maps, Edberg cannot be a fixed place to which the narrator can easily return. Edberg becomes for the narrator "[a] f ict ion of geography /geography of f iction ... Invented: textual: un/read: the hieroglyphic secrets of the past" (40). Similarly, Edmonton is read as a city whose division by the Saskatchewan River into north and south parallels the narrator's own experience as an adult w o m a n with a div ided self. She feels cut off f rom her ch i ldhood, separated f rom Edberg , removed f rom home, struggl ing to "start a life in Edmonton" (45). She realizes that the place to which she comes is one with "its own nebulous prairie history: a fort(ress) to be s tormed" (44). Edmonton, the old t rading post of the Hudson Bay Company, has already been m a p p e d by others. She tries to get to know the place through her reading: "Edmonton is a reading, an act of text, an 124 open book" (47). In spite of her efforts, she lacks agency in this city where the streets walk her rather than vice versa (54). She cannot escape the restrictions she associates with the chronotope of Edberg . The geographical division she sees around her and the division she experiences inside are disruptive and feel like stagnat ion (48). In her next exploration the narrator f inds herself t rapped in a similar d i lemma. The presence of maps and cartographic principles is even more pervasive in the section on Calgary. The narrator considers "Calgary as quadrant, the sweep of a long-armed compass quarter ing the city NW/NE/SE/SW, segmented" (70). She consults maps to locate places in the city (59, 69) and hopes that they will also help her to f ind herself: " [h ]ow to f ind yourself: see map" (71). Calgary with all its maps, however, does not fulfil these hopes. To express her feelings of entrapment, the narrator compares the city to Jericho (57-58, 62, 74), the ancient city whose massive walls are brought down by seven t rumpet-b lowing priests to be taken over by the Israelites in the Biblical story. Does Calgary have to be destroyed in a similar fashion for the narrator to be able to free herself? The materialist existence of the twentieth century seems overwhelming in Calgary, its " iconography of money" overpower ing (65). The narrator is left confused, caught in "labyrinths" of bui ldings, light and stone (72, 74): " [w]ho can find you here, a c lumsy bawling beast in the centre of a web of 8 See also the following references to her reading of the place: "[t]hrough the maze of your books you try to read this place" (52); "you read, entext yourself a city of pages" (53). 125 thread, a cat's cradle of encapturement?" (73). In this state of confusion and distress, her desire to belong and to f ind a home becomes paramount (61 , 62, 66, 68, 69, 71). This desire for a home seems to be the driving force of van Herk's geograf ict ione (Manera 1995, 88). The narrator literally and metaphorical ly recedes f rom and moves towards home: she moves north, then south, and north again. As the spiral movement of the narrative suggests, home is not a fixed entity, not a product, but itself an eternal process: " [h ]ome is a movement , a quick tug at itself and it packs up" (69). Paradoxically, to be home you must move. No matter how hard the narrator tries to map her own places, to f ind her h o m e - i n Edberg , Edmonton, or Ca lga ry -she cannot be satisfied. The desire to escape, to leave again is always present: "[ i ]s this [Edberg] a place f rom which to launch a wor ld" (33); "how to get f rom this point [Edmonton] farther, how to reach the reaches of the wor ld , and maybe Russia" (48); " [ t ]o belong then. Leaving not here but f rom here" (61). Home itself becomes a shifting signifier that has to be invented (33). Every return will be a return to someth ing new; every home will be provisional. The title of the first chapter, "Edberg: copp ice of desire and return," captures this not ion in its image of a coppice, which is a thicket of small trees that is repeatedly cut back only to be al lowed to regrow. Similarly, Edberg as the place of ch i ldhood and home is a place that, metaphorical ly speaking, has to be repeatedly cut down and reconstructed. Instead of becoming a reified myth, home becomes the goal of a cont inuously 126 desired and deferred return. The desire to return home, the longing for permanence and essence, is connected in Places Far From Ellesmere with the narrator's interest in "engravement," graveyards, and plots (23, 6 1 , 62, 140), which Kirkwood has referred to as van Herk's "death-fixation" (1991, 29). As Go ldman has pointed out, however, "physical engravement, i.e, burial in the landscape, has affinities with the engravement or emplot t ing of fictions" (1993, 31). The narrator contemplates: " [ t ]o dare to stay here to die, to dare to stay after death, to implant yourself f irmly and say, 'Here I stay, let those w h o wou ld look for a record c o m e here'" (61). If home signifies safety, then the plot, in both senses, should promise refuge and protect ion. But the familiar plots of novels promise w o m e n refuge only in marr iage, insanity, or death. Her explorat ions of the three cities and her futile at tempt to fol low cartographic principles lead to a drastic measure: she moves away f rom the urban centres and pre-written maps and fictions to Ellesmere, the extreme north. Ellesmere Island does not f igure as a place of permanent residence but as a destination for a camping trip with her partner Bob in July, the brief summer weeks in the north. The narrator comes to Ellesmere f rom the south; for her, as for many others, the north is "a place to visit, not a land in which to stay" (Grace 1991, 250). But the narrator is driven by her hope for revelation, for the impossible. Can she find a home/a plot on Ellesmere Island? "At last, again, you think you've found a home. You search out possible sites for your future grave" (140); but in the end her search is frustrated: 127 " [y ]ou are dest ined to become ashes. Ashes alone. There are murderers at large. You have imagined again and again places for your ashes to be scattered to the high winds" (141). She cannot f ind or select a safe place because there are no safe places, no safe p lots-nei ther graves nor f ic t ions- for w o m e n . Unlike van Herk's geograf ict ione, in which four chronotopes are dialogically related through the perspective of one character, Ana Historic juxtaposes and dialogically relates the perspectives of three w o m e n : Annie, Mrs. Richards, and Ina. Their narratives are not div ided into separate sect ions; instead, the text shifts rapidly between these (and other) perspectives. The effect of this strategy is a non-linear and disrupted novel that resists and subverts notions of cohesion and master plot (Banting 1991, 125; Tostevin 1989, 38). While it may seem as if "Marlatt lets the story lie there, apparent ly in pieces," a closer examination will reveal its intricate structure (Dragland 1991, 182). Annie is marr ied to her former col lege history professor, Richard, for w h o m she often does archival research in the library; they live in Vancouver with their two chi ldren, Mickey and Ange. Annie is trying to cope with the recent loss of her mother, Ina, whose death has created a threshold situation, a crisis and break in her life, that results in Annie's own writ ing (Bakhtin 1981, 248). Through her own memor ies of ch i ldhood, Annie tries to retrace the life of her mother Ina, a "proper" British lady, who , after leaving Malaysia, comes with her family to Vancouver where she suffers f rom loneliness and isolation. Her distraught behaviour is d iagnosed as hysteria and treated with electric shock, which leaves 128 Ina permanent ly disor iented. As Annie conducts research for her husband, she discovers a reference to a w o m a n called Mrs. Richards. Official historical documents tell her that Mrs. Richards arrived in Vancouver in 1873 and worked as the second school teacher at Hastings Mill School . When she marr ied Ben Springer the fol lowing year, she d isappeared f rom the publ ic record. Disappointed by the lack of information about her, Annie invents a history for Mrs. Richards with the help of her journal , which she f inds stored in the archives of Vancouver. 9 The similarity of sound and appearance of the three names suggests several interrelat ions. 1 0 Not only are the first names strikingly similar--Annie/Ana, Annie/ lna, Ana/lna--but Mrs. Richards becomes Ana Richards in the wri t ings of Richard's Annie. As Lowry has pointed out, the names "interrelate, rhyme and echo through the reading" (1991, 94). Unlike other critics w h o read these characters as f lowing and blending into each other (Tostevin 1989, 37; Chan 1992, 68), I wou ld argue that their perspectives remain distinct while they are interrelated through many parallels and confl icts. All three w o m e n are immigrants, wives, mothers, and writers. Annie writes a novel (140); Mrs. Richards keeps a journal (29); and Ina writes family stories in a notebook (20). 9 In her interview with George Bowering, Marlatt has pointed out that she used many archival sources but that Mrs. Richards's journal was her own invention (1989, 97). I see Marlatt's inclusion of passages from Mrs. Richards's journal as an interesting exploration of the roles of public versus private genres. 1 0 See, for instance, Dragland (1991, 178), Lowry (1991, 94), and Davey (1993, 199). 129 While they influence, relativize, and il luminate each other, they nevertheless remain separate characters w h o in themselves are not unitary but "heterogeneous subjects c o m p o s e d of multiple discourses" (Jones 1993, 143; also Dragland 1991, 178). Marlatt herself has referred to the stories of Annie and Ana, for instance, as analogies, twins, off-rhymes, and stories that echo each other (1989, 101). When Annie comes across the references to Mrs. Richards in the archives, she immediately realizes that "there is a story here" (14), a story she wants to pursue. The story of her mother's life is more difficult for Annie to write: "l-na, l-no-longer, i can't turn you into a story, there is this absence here, where the words stop" (11). In a way, she imagines for Mrs. Richards what her mother could not imagine for herself and what she could not imagine for her mother (Grise 1993, 92): "Ana/lna whose story is this" (67). It is th rough her own memor ies of her ch i ldhood and the imagined conversat ions with her mother that she rewrites her life story. Once driven by the desire to "efface" her mother (50), to become "another (the other) w o m a n in the house" (50), Annie is now disturbed by her absence. Without Ina, the "plotline" that her life once fol lowed is no longer clear to Annie (17). Ina used to keep her "on track" leaving her unaware of digressions, alternatives, holes, and absences (17). The many asides ("you said") in Annie's writ ing attest to her mother's lasting influence as her gu ide and teacher as well as her constant critic who chal lenges her not ions of history, f ict ion, and truth: "you g o on living in me, catching me out" (141); "i feel myself 130 in you, irritated at the edges where we overlap" (17). In the case of Mrs. Richards, Annie relies on her journal , which helps her to reconstruct her actions as well as her thoughts. Her concern is not so much that she gets the story right, but that she explores the' space of fictional possibil i t ies, "the gap between two versions" (106). Annie compares the stories of official history to pictures that are f ramed and static: f ramed by a phrase that judges ... sized up in a glance, object i f ied, that's what history offers, that's its allure, its pretence, 'history says of her'.'..' but when you're so f ramed, caught in the act, the (f) stop of act, f ac t -wha t recourse? step inside the picture and open it up. (56) As Annie opens up the picture of Mrs. Richards which is provided by the official documents , she chal lenges its selectivity and its f raming. The story Annie imagines for Mrs. Richards in turn opens up the picture of her own life. When Annie wonders about Mrs. Richards's first name~"what is her first name? she must have o n e - s o far she has only the name of a dead man, someone somewhere else" (37)--she chooses "Ana" without further explanation, a choice that hints at the connect ion between their life stories (39). Moreover, the name comments on Annie's endeavour of imagining her story: "ana / that's her name: back, backward, reversed / again, anew" (43). Ana is a pal indrome that literally enacts what the prefix suggests. Annie/Ana is writ ing back to and writ ing anew the official history that does not recognize her actions. Wonder ing why Mrs. Richards d isappeared f rom the records after her marr iage (134, 146), Annie reflects on her own marr ied life, asking herself 131 whether there were other possibil it ies. Shocked at first by Zoe's suggest ion of a relationship between Mrs. Richards and Birdie Stewart, she does imagine how they could have become close, what they wou ld have said (138-39). Mrs. Richards's story thus becomes "a historical leak for the possibil i ty of lesbian life in Victorian British Columbia" (Marlatt 1990b, 15); it acts as a rehearsal for Annie and enables her to express her desire for Zoe so that their relationship becomes a contemporary rewriting of the imagined encounter between Ana and Birdie. In the exploration of these relationships, Annie refuses to pretend that she is a disinterested, objective observer or chronicler of history. O n the contrary, she foregrounds her struggle to inscribe her own subjectivity. Annie's voice becomes the means for the reader to envision strategies of resistance, project them into the past, and cont inue their development in the present and future (Grise 1993, 96-97). Annie realizes her implicat ion in the stories of Ina, Ana, and herself and also her implication in the process of producing and maintaining gendered female bodies. While the reader is well aware that Annie at tempts to reconstruct Mrs. Richards's and Ina's stories, the novel's f ragmentary style succeeds in tell ing their stories without seeming to, without establ ishing a narrative authority. The dialogic relations between stories seem to undermine any consistent structure of embedd ing . Ana, Ina, Annie, and Ange become a "cont inuum of life stories" in d iscont inuous form (Grise 1993, 92). Ana Historic gives voice to these previously si lenced w o m e n by dialogically writ ing them into the gap between history and 132 fict ion. Marlatt's "genealogy for lost w o m e n " reinscribes these w o m e n as speaking subjects who can participate in the creation of their own wor lds (Goldman 1992, 33; also Lowry 1991, 84). However, the main interest of the novel is in the process itself, rather than in the conclusion to the individual stories. It is no surprise, therefore, that Annie experiences particular difficulties with the beginnings and endings of the stories she reinscribes. To suggest the not ion of connectedness and cont inuum between these perspectives, Marlatt skilfully shifts pronouns to blur the edges of these stories: she w h o is you or me 'i ' address this to (129) Marlatt's shifting pronouns refuse the possibil i ty of stable references. Shifting references d o not necessari ly indicate that the self is unstable or unnameable. However, these references resist the cultural inscript ions of women's bodies which Ana, Ina, and Annie have exper ienced. Thus, Marlatt "forces the reader to confront the degree to which the concept of the individual is dependent upon , and constructed by, discursive practices" (Chalykoff 1994, 5). Through engaging with these practices, the concept of w o m a n can begin to be reinscr ibed. Moreover, the pronoun of the second person, "you," reinforces a sense of connect ion between the audiences establ ished in the novel; it br ings together and heralds a culture centred on w o m e n who share lives and histories (Chan 1992, 69): "o the cultural labyrinth of our inheritance, mother to daughter to 133 mother . . . " (24). As Marlatt has said in an interview, "that 'you' shifts around quite a lot, because somet imes it's 'you,' Mrs. Richards, a lot of the t ime it's 'you,' I n a -and somet imes it's 'you' reflexive, anywoman's you" (1989, 100). The reader herself thus becomes part of the shared experience and has to take responsibi l i ty for the performance of the text; she is left unable to escape this address (Hutcheon 1988c, 19) . 1 1 The second person singular pronoun is also a crucial feature of van Herk's geograf ict ione. Like Marlatt's pronouns, van Herk's "you" shifts frequently, especially between the reader of Places Far From Ellesmere and its narrator, w h o often seems to be addressing herself. The inclusive pronoun "you" that moves outward to include the reader reinforces the narrator's implication that all w o m e n are Annas w h o "have suffered f rom the rigid f rame imposed by the representation of w o m e n as Woman" (Goldman 1993, 36). At the same t ime, the narrator here seems to be engaged in a conversat ion with herself, so that the "you" actually refers back to herself (Manera 1995, 89). While Thomas has criticized this strategy as "alienating," as "a defense against self-disclosure" (1991, 69), I see the technique as successful ly suggest ing that in every reading of herself the narrator's subjectivity is constructed th rough discursive practices. Thus, the narrator foregrounds herself as a living text, a character being read. 1 1 Consider also Marlatt's explanation in "Difference (em)bracing": "[words] set up currents of meaning that establish this you i also am (not third person, as in totally other, and not quite the same as me). You' is a conduit, a light beam to larger possibility, so large it fringes on the other without setting her apart from me" (1990a, 188). 134 Dialogic play not only occurs between Marlatt's life stories of three w o m e n and van Herk's chronotopes but also between these narratives and a variety of quoted documents . Both texts provide bibl iographies that list many of their immediate sources. They thus foreground the recognit ion, in van Herk's words , that "[w]r i t ing is an act of appropr iat ion" (n.p.). Marlatt's Annie contemplates the dialogic quality of all d iscourse: "echoing your words , Ina-another quotat ion, except i quote myself (and what if our heads are full of other people's words? nothing without quotat ion marks,)" (81). None of the documents quoted in these texts suppor ts women's desire to write their own stories; each document has reduced w o m e n to W o m a n and has si lenced them. All d iscourses are informed by power relations but, as the narrators reread these documents and pry open the monolog ic " 'economy' of discourses" f rom posit ions of difference and resistance (Foucault 1978, 68), Marlatt and van Herk suggest that no discourse is exempt f rom being dialogized, opened up, and chal lenged. By examining how these discourses operate, what their tactics and power relations are, they quest ion any postulate of causality and claim to monolog ic truth. Dialogic relations institute a strategy for inscribing voices previously unheard and this strategy deprivi leges dominant d iscourses of patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality and the hegemonies they support . I want to take a closer look first at van Herk's page of quotat ions, which fol lows the table of contents in Places Far From Ellesmere. Here the reader f inds excerpts f rom Claude Levi-Strauss's Tristes Tropiques, Michel Foucault 's The 135 Archaeology of Knowledge and Albert Camus's 'The Minotaur or the Stop in Oran." These quotes are fol lowed by two sentences that are indented like the preceding quotes but enclosed in square brackets and left uns igned: "[In the explorat ions of memory and place lie unsolved murders ; in the mult iple dissensions of distance and t ime, certain condi t ions prevail. The wor ld admits deserts and islands but no women. ] " (n.p.). The speaker quotes three renowned, white, male, European phi losophers and writers of the twentieth century and then collates ideas and phrases f rom their quotat ions to create a new statement. As these phrases are re-combined and brought into new contexts, they acquire different meanings and point to their own silences. The wor ld , as writ ten and constructed by men (in these quotat ions), includes deserts and islands but no w o m e n . Literally and metaphorical ly, w o m e n are neither acknowledged nor al lowed into the text of the written wor ld . By adding the dialogic afterthought, the speaker admits herself into the wor ld she has experienced as dominated and control led by men, reclaiming the connect ion between desert, island, and w o m a n - v a n Herk's entire text becomes an extension of this opening gesture of reinscript ion. The most extensive quotat ions in Places Far From Ellesmere come f rom Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenin (1875-77), which the narrator takes to Ellesmere Island with her "to solve a problem in how to think about love; to solve a prob lem in the (grave) differences between men's writ ing and women's wri t ing: to solve a problem in sexual judgment" (82). In her re-reading of Anna, she 136 hopes to "un/read her, set her free" by providing a woman's reading of "a male reading of w o m e n " (82). The first three sections on Edberg , Edmonton and Calgary already weave the thread of Tolstoy's novel into this geograf ict ione (16, 33, 36, 48, 50, 64), but only when the narrator comes to Ellesmere does the actual un/reading take place. Anna Karenin has tradit ionally been considered the prototype of nineteenth-century psychological real ism. In the novel, Anna's adulterous passion for the young officer Vronsky in St. Petersburg in the 1860s ultimately leads to her suicide. The narrator undertakes what both Pianos (1995, 98) and Go ldman (1993, 35) have referred to as an exploratory strategy of a feminist reading of Tolstoy's novel: "reading is a new act here, not introverted and possessive but exploratory, the text a new body of the self, the self a new reading of place" (113). Tolstoy is unable to deal with an independent w o m a n w h o is not only sensual but w h o also reads, and reads her own life. He has to destroy Anna for what he perceives to be a transgression of moral and social laws. But the narrator reads Anna out of her posit ion of v ic t imhood, and in the process Anna becomes a symbo l for all w o m e n who are oppressed: "women are all Annas, caught or not" (82). If the narrator can un/read Anna, w o m e n can f ind strategies of resistance to un/read themselves, to un/read the category of W o m a n which has stifled them. To un/read Anna, the narrator quotes phrases and paragraphs f rom the novel and integrates them into her own text: " [ t ]he words are st irred, mixed, like 137 pieces of a j igsaw, broken up into their separate shapes and the whole picture lost, left to be reconstructed by another, a different hand" (113). The quotes no longer fol low the chronology of Tolstoy's plot but become part of a new text that has its own logic. Dialogic relations are created as the narrator compares her own situation and women's situations in general to Anna's; she highl ights similarities and differences and thus exposes the ideologies that inform the narrative of Tolstoy's novel. The act of reading itself is significant: A l though her first desire is to read, she is distracted, perhaps because she is placed on that train by Tolstoy, and you know that he uses trains to displace her. At first she made no progress with her reading. For a while the bustle of people coming and going was disturbing ... she could not help listening to the noises ... all this distracted her attention. Anna is travell ing to Ellesmere; she needs to be t ransported there in order to read her English/Russian story. (133-34) The narrator analyzes Tolstoy's desire to displace Anna, to unsettle her, keep her f rom reading, but she turns his strategy against h im by reading Anna's journey as br inging her to Ellesmere where she will f ind the quiet and sol i tude necessary for her reading: She will extinguish her lamp when she pleases. And the candle by which she had been reading the book filled with trouble and deceit, sorrow and evil, flared up with a brighter light, illuminating for her everything that before had been enshrouded in darkness, flickered, grew dim and went out for ever. 138 But not quite for ever. Here in the forever light of Ellesmere you are unreading the Anna that Tolstoy pretended to write. (138) While Anna's reading light may g o out in Tolstoy's novel, the narrator chal lenges this fact in the new context in which she performs the un/reading of the novel and Anna. In the constant light of Ellesmere there is no reason for Anna's light to g o out; it can be rekindled in the narrator's rereading. Anna's desire to read, together with the way she "trusts her reading and her body" (142), ensure her downfal l in Tolstoy's novel, but the same qualities in the narrator can ensure her f reedom f rom Tolstoy's grasp. Why does van Herk choose Anna Karenin as the novel for her narrator to un/read in Places Far From Ellesmere? Van Herk has explained that her novels have focused on w o m e n characters-Jud i th , Ja-el, Arachne, and here Anna Karen in-because of her desire to "question meaning, history, representat ion, to quest ion our desires and duties, to quest ion one another. And to re-write, inscribe differently, to re-verse the previously static and perpetually frozen" (1991, 132). One of her strategies for inscribing a textual presence for w o m e n is to reclaim "lost, abandoned and misrepresented women's myths" (van Herk 1987, 12). By un/reading the story of Anna Karenin, for instance, van Herk has chosen one of the best-known stories about w o m e n written by men. In the spaces where her w o m e n characters enter forb idden territory and cross forb idden boundaries, van Herk's rewrit ings locate alternatives in order to "mime a fictional future" for w o m e n , to explore what is possible rather than what is 139 r probable (van Herk 1987, 9). As the narrator frees the textual Anna, she also hopes to liberate w o m e n readers' desires (to imagine the liberation of other fictional w o m e n or themselves); and by extension, the writer herself may be liberated f rom an oppressive textual tradit ion (Buss 1993, 201). Possibility is also a key notion in Marlatt's revisionist strategy of quotat ion, which enables Annie to project lives and texts for herself, her mother, and Ana out of the past into the future. In this sense, Ana Historic becomes a reaction against a history in which w o m e n are a-historic (Dragland 1991, 180). Annie writes stories of w h o these w o m e n are and who they could be th rough an "analysis of the social context each of them inhabit [sic]" (Marlatt 1990b, 15). These social contexts are reconstructed through a wide range of texts that are ment ioned, al luded to, or quoted f rom in the novels; eleven of these sources are acknowledged in the bibl iography. They include historical studies and school textbooks about Vancouver and British Columbia , books of (clinical) psychiatry, the Bible, pop songs, novels, newspapers, and Hannah More's Strictures (1799). A rereading of the documents in Ana Historic shows that their d iscourses, which have suppor ted official history and thereby si lenced and objectif ied w o m e n , are not f ixed; placed in a new context, they can be chal lenged and exposed as construct ions. In the act of self-consciously reproducing monolog ic speech, the novel draws these discourses into a dialogic economy (Jones 1993, 142). In this process of dialogization, which Banting has descr ibed as a form of translat ion, "the documentary language becomes denatured, provoked to yield its 140 ideological biases. The language of history breaks down into its components , namely, the language of nominal izat ion, categorizat ion, hierarchization, dominat ion, colonization, subordinat ion, and control" (Banting 1991, 125) . 1 2 Annie is no longer interested in contr ibut ing to the books of "already-made" history which her husband writes by "looking for missing pieces ... missing facts" (98, 134). She realizes nevertheless that she must engage in a different kind of h istory-making, "making fresh tracks my own way" (98), if she wants to participate in the creation of her wor ld . Her dialogic encounters with the quoted documents become her strategy for deconstruct ing official history and opening up the still f rames of historical facts to focus on the stories of people's lives, the "missing persons in all this rubble" (134). Annie chal lenges the documents that speak of Mrs. Richards not only because they lack information about her life, but also because she quest ions the criteria that determine what consti tutes history, especially the insistence on "cause and effect," the narrow focus on social status (48), and the Cartesian public-private split. The "historic voice (voice-over)" (48) retrospectively registers only publ ic posit ions and familial status: Mrs. Richards was a school and piano teacher; she came to Vancouver as a w idow and the fol lowing year marr ied Ben 1 2 1 take issue, however, with Banting's suggestion that these documents are "being quoted and collaged into this unfamiliar context" "without being altered or transformed in any way" (1991,125). With Bakhtin, I would argue "that the speech of another, once enclosed in a context, is~no matter how accurately transmitted-always subject to certain semantic changes.... The formulation of another's speech as well as its framing ... both express the unitary act of dialogic interaction with that speech, a relation determining the entire nature of its transmission and all the changes in meaning and accent that take place in it during transmission" (1981, 340). 141 Springer. Marriage is equated with a retreat into the folds of family life, and as a result she becomes invisible to chroniclers of history. So selective and brief are the references to w o m e n , and in particular to Mrs. Richards, in Alan Morley's Vancouver: From Milltown to Metropolis (1961), Major J.S. Matthews's Early Vancouver (1932), and A .M. Ross's "The Romance'of Vancouver's Schools" (1971) that Annie can quote, read, and chal lenge them all (39, 47-48). What she misses in these texts is what she valorizes in her fictional rendering of Ana's life: her daily activities and reflections, her personality, and her fr iendships with other w o m e n in her communi ty . In some ways these absences of w o m e n in the official history only reinforce what Annie learned in early life about the role and place of w o m e n in society. Her recognit ion tr iggers a quotat ion f rom M. Allerdale Grainger's novel Woodsmen of the West (1964): a woman's place, safe, suspended out of the swift race of the wor ld . the monstrous lie of it: the lure of absence, self-effacing. 'Watch Carter when the "donk" (his donkey!) has got up steam-its first steam; and when the rigging men (his rigging men!) drag out the wire rope to make a great circle through the woods. And when the circle is complete from one drum, round by where the cut logs are lying, back to the other drum; and when the active rigging slinger (his rigging slinger!) has hooked a log on to a point of the wire cable; and when the signaller (his signaller!) has pulled the wire telegraph and made the donkey toot... just think of Carter's feelings as the engineer jams over levers, opens up the throttle, sets the thudding, whirring donkey winding up the cable, and drags the first log into sight; out from the forest down to the beach; bump, bump! Think what this mastery over huge, heavy logs means to a 142 man who has been used to coax them to tiny movements by patience and a puny jack-screw...' history the story, Carter's and all the others', of dominance, mastery, the bold line of it. soon it will be gett ing dark, soon the kids will be coming in f rom outdoors. (24-25) This quotat ion f rom Grainger powerful ly asserts the presence of men in the wor ld . Presence is defined in his novel by Carter's dominance and mastery over machines, nature, and w o m e n (through their very absence f rom history). This politics of power together with "a language of possession" (Jones 1993, 151) ensures that history becomes, as Annie states, "the story ... of dominance, mastery" (25). This paragraph and other quotat ions f rom Grainger's novel in Ana Historic (63, 80) chal lenge what Ralph Andrews, w h o quotes extensively f rom Grainger's novel in his Glory Days of Logging, descr ibes as "crystal clear word pictures of man and condi t ions of the t ime" (1956, 12). Through her dialogic reposit ioning of quotat ions, Annie shows that these "word pictures" are specif ic to their socio-historical contexts and informed by patriarchal ideologies. Again, Annie engages with still f rames, static pictures, which her rereadings begin to unsettle as she "[ t ]hink[s] what this mastery ... means to a man" (25) . 1 3 She is 1 3 Annie's rereading of sections from Woodsmen of the West, which originally was printed in a very limited edition that sold slowly, also questions the public recognition Grainger himself has received. He is still remembered today for his contribution to the Forestry Act of 1912, which is considered to have laid the foundations for the forestry policy in British Columbia-policies that have led to serious environmental problems caused by the logging industry. Joel Martineau (1996) argues, however, that Woodsmen of the West is more critical of turn-of-the-century ideologies of gender and ecology than Marlatt's quotations suggest. Martineau emphasizes the narrator's "self-awareness and his ironic perspective on the masculine culture of agency" (4) and Grainger's attempt to shift the focus of the frontier discourse from commodity to community (10). 143 determined to inscribe herself into her own history, her story; so she fol lows Grainger's quote with a descr ipt ion of her own domest ic situation as she waits for her chi ldren to return home. The connect ion between history, nature, and men is also chal lenged through the dialogic relativization of quotat ions f rom Lawson and Young's A History and Geography of British Columbia: For Use in Public School (1906): tomboy , her mother said, torn, the male of the species plus boy. doub le mascul ine, as if girl were completely erased... . it wasn't torn, or boy, it wasn't hoyden, minx, baggage, but what lay below names-ba re l y even touched by them. 'Douglas fir and red cedar are the principal trees. Of these, the former-named after David Douglas, a well-known botanist-is the staple timber of commerce. Average trees grow 150 feet high, clear of limbs, with a diameter of 5 to 6 feet. The wood has great strength and is largely used for shipbuilding, bridge work, fencing, railway ties, and furniture. As a pulp-making tree the fir is valuable. Its bark makes a good fuel.' clear of l imbs? of extras, of asides, tree as a straight line, a stick, there for the taking. Mrs. Richards, who s tood as straight as any tree (o that Victorian sens ib i l i ty -backbone, Madam, backbone!) wasn't there for the taking. (13-14) In the descr ipt ion of the Douglas fir, its qualities for the economy are fo regrounded: tall and wide, usable in a variety of industr ies-al l of which serve the interest of m a n . 1 4 The act of naming, "Douglas fir," goes hand in hand with 1 4 Marlatt incorporates another quotation from Lawson and Young in which they describe the red cedar (Lawson and Young 1906, 98; Ana Historic 19-20). The quotation highlights the usefulness of red cedars, for example, in house finishings; the trees serve men and could be called "the settler's friend" (20). In her journal, Mrs. Richards puts this observation into perspective: compared to the 144 the patriarchal ideology of possession. In contrast, as a young girl Annie refuses to be named by her mother through a "double masculine." She denies the act of naming its power and signif icance in a mascul ine economy and claims a part of herself as inaccessible to the language of men and history. As she dialogically engages with the quotat ion, she repeats parts of it with a difference, rephrasing it as a quest ion: "clear of l imbs?" (14). Annie exposes mascul ine values based on pragmat ism and utilitarianism and suppor ted by the same linguistic economy identified in Grainger's novel (Jones 1993, 149). When Annie uses the same terminology to. descr ibe Mrs. Richards--"who s tood as straight as any tree ... wasn't there for the taking ... imagining herself free of history" (14) -she not only mocks the quotat ion but reclaims the positive qualities of trees in her characterization of Mrs. Richards and refuses the exploitation that comes with it in the mascul ine economy. Moreover, while Mrs. Richards has been named by her husband through a marr iage that operates within the same patriarchal d iscourse, she refuses to be control led by it, refuses to be "there for the taking" in more than one sense. Repeatedly, Annie places descr ipt ions of the " important events in the wor ld" which make up history ("the real story the city fathers tell"  such as the bui lding of the CPR) side by side with those events of the w o m e n ("not facts but skeletal bones of a suppressed body the story is"  such as the arrival of Earth, "Man ... is afterall dwarf in such green fur, mere Insect only.—It comforts me'" (20). 145 the first piano). Women's history values private events and is less concerned with pinpoint ing facts and f igures of exploitat ion. In a particularly striking example, Annie imagines the counterpoint between the boat race that men write and "the ships men ride into the pages of history" (121) and "women's work" (123) of giving birth to the first white child at Hastings Mill, which goes unrecorded in archival documents (113-27). Here the fun-fi l led, yet banal, leisure activities of men are regarded more highly than the painful, life-giving labour of w o m e n . This example shows that the underlying criteria for men's and women 's history are themselves highly contradictory and problematical . If a mascul ine discourse is indeed interested in productivity, wou ld births not rate high on the scale? When Annie at tempts to tell her mother's story, to come to terms with her death and absence, she uses a similar strategy. She places the public, mascul ine discourse of the medical establ ishment, which d iagnoses Ina as depressive and hysteric and subjects her to electroshock treatment, side by side with her personal memor ies of her mother's emotional outbursts, anxiety attacks, and unhappiness in the family home. Four quotat ions are taken f rom Leonard Roy Frank's The History of Shock Treatment (1978), a compi lat ion of confl ict ing perspectives on shock treatment col lected f rom various documents . A l though most of the sections Annie quotes endorse the treatment, her critical engagement with these quotat ions suppor ts Frank's "demysti fying message" (xiv). He seeks to expose the abuse of state-delegated power by psychiatrists 146 w h o use shock treatment and furthermore "to arm psychiatric inmates with the knowledge and the will to resist assault by the psychiatric system" (xiv); Frank dedicates the book therefore, to "all those engaged in the struggle against psychiatr ic tyranny" (n.p.). Annie's descr ipt ion of Ina's behaviour after returning f rom the hospital exposes the misleading rhetoric used to descr ibe the treatment and identifies the side effects of amnesia as actual brain damage. The promise of health, of being herself again, is suppor ted by the medical descr ipt ions of the treatment but chal lenged by Annie's memor ies of the end result: [Harald] came to my bedroom and we had long discussions about depression and what the psychiatrist said, you could g o into hospital for only a few days, for treatment that wou ld erase the thoughts that tormented you, and then you'd be yourself again in a week or two. yourself again: w h o was that? i could barely remember the mother who 'd laughed at 'Hokey-Pokey,' loved Abbot t and Costel lo, read 'The King asked the Queen and Queen asked the Dairy-Maid' in funny voices ... 'Glissando in Electric Shock Therapy is the method of applying the shock stimulus to the patient in a smooth, gradually increasing manner so that the severity of the initial onset is minimized.' ... when Harald brought you back f rom the hospital he brought back a stranger, a small round person col lapsed in on herself. (144-45) The w o m a n w h o before was fr ightened and depressed, unsure of her identity, is left with no ability to feel or remember her identity at all. Given the severity of Ina's symptoms, Annie wonders whether the diagnosis of hysteria and the shock 147 treatment are really des igned to contain and silence w o m e n rather than to help them. Feminist critics of the medical establ ishment have pointed out that the medical d iscourse has always relied upon such principles of domina t ion . 1 5 As medical d iscourse connects behaviour to the body, it makes it into a scientific prob lem so that the body becomes an object for medical therapy. The result is, as Sherwin points out, that "by medicat ing socially induced depression and anxiety, medicine helps to perpetuate women's oppress ion and deflects attention f rom the injustice of their situation" (1992, 85). Haraway suppor ts this observat ion by arguing that "[ t ]he biochemical and physiological basis of the therapeut ic claims immensely s t r e n g t h e n ^ ] the legit imating power of scientific managers over women's lives" (1991, 14). Annie explores the history of hysteria in medical d iscourse, especially the long-held not ion that hysteria was the result of uterine d isplacement and therefore a woman's d isease. 1 6 A quotat ion f rom James Hillman's The Myth of Analysis: Three essays in Archetypal Psychology (1972) indicates that one of the avenues pursued to "cure" w o m e n of hysteria was to remove their uteri (Hil lman 1 5 For further discussion, see, for example, Susan Sherwin (1992) who points out that feminist criticism needs to look at all modern medical practices, from its institutional structures, to its treatment of patients, to reproductive technologies, to research, and medical practitioners (84-88). See also Joan Tronto (1993), who argues for a paradigm shift to an ethic of care, and many of the essays collected in A Reader in Feminist Ethics, edited by Debra Shogan (1992). 1 6 Once hysteria had been made into a "nervous type" discourse, it became a disorder of sympathy, thereby linking suffering, sympathy, and women. For brief overviews, see Foucault (1965, 136-58) and Hillman (1972, 251-58). 148 1978, 255-56; Ana Historic 89 ) . 1 7 Ina herself has suffered a hysterectomy as well as other invasive procedures (88). By compar ing her own experiences of her mother 's situation with the objecti fying medical discourse, Annie exposes how diagnoses funct ion as organizing mechanisms to suppor t the principle of dominat ion. Annie's reaccentuation of these quotat ions emphasizes that it is crucial to consider w h o speaks the name hysteria, because, as Hil lman warns, "where hysteria is d iagnosed, misogyny is not far away" (1972, 254). Through the authority to define what is normal or pathological , medic ine often reinforces gender roles and existing power inequalities. Annie's dialogic engagement with these and other quoted documents opens up the discursive fields in which these documents circulate. While Ana Historic acknowledges their existence and the extent to which they have consti tuted the subjectivity of w o m e n , Annie recontextualizes them to expose their ideological underpinnings. This process disrupts their monolog ic authority, chal lenges their logic, and leaves them in f ragments, only to incorporate alternative tell ings that occur in the cracks the re-readings have opened. Jones reads Annie's assumpt ion of the subordinate, supposed ly non-authoritative, role of copyist in the novel as its most powerful "subversive gesture" (1993, 142). It al lows her to explore the space between history and fict ion, to chal lenge the binary opposi t ion, and thereby to invent "a historical leak, a hole in the sieve of 1 7 Hillman also points out how different medical and scholarly discourses, such as classical studies, rely upon each other to support their fictions of science and reality, which they like to present as factual histories (1972, 270). 149 fact that let the shadow of a possibil i ty leak th rough into ful l-blown life" (Marlatt 1990b, 15). In Ana Historic Marlatt insists that history can be changed because its own discourse is a f ict ion: If history is a construct ion and language is also a cons t ruc t ion- in fact, it actually constructs the reality we live and act i n - t h e n we can change it. We're not stuck in some authoritative version of the real, and for w o m e n that's extremely important, because until recently we always w e r e - t h e patriarchal version was always the version, and now we know that's not true. We can throw out that powerful little article. When we change language, we change the bui lding b locks by which we construct our reality or even our past 'reality,' history. (1993, 188) Marlatt exposes the mono log ism of the male gaze and the historic voice-over in Ana Historic: indeed, she returns the gaze and replaces the voice-over with a po lyphony of voices. Both s t ra teg ies-per formed through dialogic re lat ions-are empower ing possibil it ies for w o m e n to reclaim themselves as speaking subjects w h o participate in the creation of their own wor lds. In the wor lds that w o m e n construct for themselves, they are no longer conf ined to the domest ic space; they become aware of their own situatedness, not only in language and the field of history, but also in their natural environment. Both Marlatt's and van Herk's texts recognize that patriarchy has placed w o m e n and nature in the category of the absolute and alienated "other." Over the last two decades, the connect ions between the oppress ion of w o m e n and the oppress ion of nature have been explored in the context of ecofeminism, a term coined by the French writer Frangoise d 'Eaubonne (1974) to indicate 150 women's potential to bring about an ecological revolution. Instead of insisting on the alienation of human beings f rom nature, ecofeminists consider the interdependent relations in human-human and human-nature interaction. Dialogism, with its focus on multiplicity and interrelatedness, reinforces the ecofeminist recognit ion of the necessity for diversity, in terdependence, and reciprocity in these relations. Bakhtin himself never extended his ideas about d ia logism to the relationship between human and non-human nature. For h im, only speaking subjects seem to have agency. While non-speaking subjects can be participants in dialogue as the objects of utterances, they remain in the role of object. As Murphy has suggested, however, by br inging together dialogism with feminism and ecology, it is possible to break dialogism out of the anthropocentr ism in which Bakhtin performs it (1991b, 48). From such an ecofeminist perspective, I would now like to take a closer look at how Ana Historic and Places Far From Ellesmere develop the possibly dialogic relationships between w o m e n and nature. In Annie's early memor ies in Ana Historic, nature, more specifically the woods , are part of male territory, where men work on powerl ines or clear land (12). Similarly, even the boys of the ne ighbourhood have already claimed "the Green W o o d " as theirs, as a place with a "fort," "sl ingshots," and "air gun" (12). 1 8 Ecofeminist discourse has developed with incredible speed across many disciplines. For introductory essays, see "Ecological Feminism," a special issue of Hypatia (1991), Judith Plant (1989), Irene Diamond and Gloria Orenstein (1990), Stacy Alaimo (1994), and for a more literary approach Patrick D. Murphy (1994). 151 Only a small section of the forest, "that part directly behind the garden, that part she and her sisters called the Old W o o d " is left to the girls (12). Too close to the domest ic , feminine space of the house, it is of no interest to the boys. To the girls, however, "the Old W o o d " suggests safety, comfort , and familiarity: "moulted and softened with years of needle drift, tea brown, and the cedar s tump hol low in the middle where they nestled in a w o m b ... sniffing the odour of tree matter become a stain upon their Hands like dr ied b lood" (12). Even this familiarity is overshadowed by the fear of those who, accord ing to what she has been taught, truly control nature: "but what if the boys ... what if the men tried to bul ldoze their woods? so what could we do? her little sister shrugged" (12). Annie internalizes this notion of separate spheres, which is endorsed by her mother w h o continually reminds Annie of the dangers of the w o o d s in which men and bears may hide (18). And yet, unlike her mother, w h o is afraid of the bush, Annie secretly trusts the land. The w o o d s become her escape "from the wor ld of men" (18). In the anonymous, undisturbed environment of the forest (18, 19, 46), she feels "in commun ion" with the trees and animals around her, "native" in the wor ld of nature (18). Annie's at tempt to write herself into history, partly th rough her own writ ing of a novel, partly th rough exploring her mother 's and Ana's stories, f inds a parallel in her desire to reclaim her familiarity with nature as well as her sense of belonging and connect ion. Both nature and w o m e n have been si lenced by and have suffered f rom patriarchal culture: 152 Ana's fascination: the silence of trees the silence of w o m e n if they could speak an uncondit ional language what would they say? (75) Nature and w o m e n have been overwritten by the desires, bodies, and histories of men, fathers and husbands; in order for Annie to liberate herself as a w o m a n and to reclaim her positive relationship with nature, she needs to re-inscribe women's desires, bodies, and histories and with them respect for the land. In Ana Historic the most respectful and harmonious relationships with nature are associated with the presence of w o m e n , women's bodies, and love between w o m e n : Ana joins the two w o m e n she sees sitting in a pool in the w o o d s beckoning her to jo in them (86); Annie f inds two w o m e n kissing in a car that is parked in the w o o d s (106-07); the birth of Jeannie Alexander's son takes place inside the house, but the nature of birth and women 's bodies are closely paralleled with the natural sett ing outside, the trees, the rain forest, the scarlet maples, so that the country of the land becomes the country of the woman's body (127). Moreover, as Jeanhie gives birth to her son and to the new Ana, whose consciousness has been raised by her witnessing of the birth, Zoe metaphorical ly gives birth to a new Annie (Kelly 1995, 84). A n d finally, when Annie goes to visit Zoe at her house, she compares the communi ty of the w o m e n to her early memor ies of nature: "i wanted to listen, as i used to listen in 153 the w o o d s to the quiet interplay of w ind , trees, rain, creeping things under the leaves- th is wor ld of connect ion" (151). If nature's elements relate to each other dialogically, and w o m e n relate to each other in the same way, then w o m e n and nature can also share, listen, respond, and connect with each other, in other words relate dialogically. In this context, it is not surpr ising that Marlatt's ep igraph~"The assemblage of facts in a tangle of hair'" (n.p.)--is a quotat ion f rom what has become one of the touchstone texts for ecofeminists: Susan Griffin's Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her (1978). When Griffin introduces a selection f rom this text in her later collection Made from this Earth, she explains that " [ t ]hough the book contains analytic ideas, it moves by the force of echoes and choruses, counterpoints and harmonies. In one way, the book is an extended dia logue between two voices (each set in different type face), one the chorus of w o m e n and nature, an emotional , animal, embod ied voice, and the other a solo part, cool , professorial, pretending to objectivity, carrying the weight of cultural authority" (1982, 82). In Woman and Nature, Griffin suggests that man has been alienated f rom both w o m a n and nature in the patriarchal systems of the Western wor ld , while w o m a n and nature are seen as connected. Thus, both are establ ished as proper subjects for dominat ion but their connect ion can also become the source for women's strengths and a way to deconstruct patriarchy's d iscourse of dominat ion. Marlatt's specif ic quotat ion is taken f rom Book Four of Griffin's Woman 154 and Nature entit led "Her Vision." Here the speaker rereads a woman's body as a source of knowledge and history: Fine light hairs down our backbones. Soft hair over our forearms. Our upper lips. Each hair a precise fact. (He has never permit ted her to exercise her inalienable right to franchise. He has compel led her to submi t to laws, in the format ion of which she had no choice.) Hair tickling our legs. The fact of hair against skin. The hand stroking the hair, the skin. Each hair. Each cell. (He has made her, if marr ied, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.) Our hair lying against our cheeks. The assemblage of facts in a tangle of hair. (He has taken f rom her all right to property, even to the wages she earns. He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough educat ion, all col leges being c losed against her.) (209-10) For Griffin, and by analogy for Marlatt, facts of history are not derived solely f rom publ ic events and are not dissociated f rom live bodies and personal experience; the body itself is a textbook of history, with Ina the most obvious and disturbing example. In an interesting way, the context of Marlatt's ep igraph foreshadows the problematics of w o m e n , especially of Mrs. Richards, in Ana Historic. Through marr iage a w o m a n like Ana fades into the background, d isappears f rom publ ic records altogether, becomes a housewife like Ina whose emot ional behaviour is control led by a mascul ine medical establ ishment through shock treatment, or runs the household and suppor ts her husband by do ing research as does Annie. The absence of these w o m e n f rom official history drives Annie to explore their stories. It is the lives of all three w o m e n which Annie needs to write back into history; it is also their bodies^ which have been control led by men, and their connect ion to nature that need to be reclaimed. But not only the theme of Griffin's Woman and Nature resonates in Ana Historic; like Griffin, Marlatt employs 155 dialogic relations between stories, voices, documents , w o m a n and nature. These texts chal lenge the mono log ism of patriarchy th rough a double-voiced discourse that crit iques what it observes. Both texts posit a strategically monolog ic ending that concludes with the voices of a communi ty of w o m e n . Commentary on Ana Historic has often focused on the novel's Utopian ending and the essentialism that has been said to g round Marlatt's reinscription of w o m e n , lesbianism, and the notion of origin. Does Marlatt indeed reinstate the old binary of nature versus culture (Davey 1993, 196)? Is the literal and literary cl imax at the end "unexpectedly conventional in its Utopian vision" and therefore unsatisfactory (Tostevin 1989, 38)? Such readings of Ana Historic, I believe, are reductive because they remain within the hierarchical th inking of patriarchal d iscourse and ignore the more complex dialogic manoeuvres of the nove l . 1 9 The novel obviously exposes a wide range of binaries crucial to Western patriarchal structures, but none remains in place. Through the explorat ion of a lesbian relationship with Zoe, Annie has not s imply reversed her place within the male/female binary by privileging w o m e n or claiming the male prerogative of desir ing w o m e n , as Davey suggests (1993, 209); rather, their relationship suggests a different posit ion that opens up the familiar binary, deconstructs it in order to f ind a new space that is not determined by patriarchal d iscourse. As 1 9 Marlatt anticipates such readings: "[a]s soon as you try to write from the margin versus the centre, so that the margin is seen from the centre of its own values, then you're open to the attack that you're simply trying to reverse the hierarchy and make this the centre. This is a trap of binary thinking, which is always hierarchical. It says there has to be an either/or and it cant get to that place of both/and" (1991a, 104). 156 pointed out before, Annie explains early on : "when you're so f ramed, caught in the act, the (f) stop of act, f ac t -wha t recourse? step inside the picture and open it up" (56). However, only if the reader deems the explorat ion of this possibil i ty worthwhi le will she engage favourably with the ending of the novel. I we lcome Marlatt's desire to imagine w o m e n in reference to themselves in a language so burdened with patriarchal value; however, I am doubtful that it is possible to imagine w o m e n in an altogether "uncondit ioned language" outside of patriarchal reference (75). Annie certainly takes steps in this direct ion; she renames herself and as Annie Torrent begins to speak her own desire: "you. i want you. and me. together" (152). Her act of renaming becomes a disrupt ion of the paternal genealogy in which w o m e n cannot speak or write (Goldman 1992, 37). But Marlatt pushes this disrupt ion further when she shifts into a more lyrical m o d e in the final sect ion of the novel. Here she seems to indicate a contextual shift into a lesbian culture that posits different terms of reference and fo rm. Significantly, this last page of the novel remains unnumbered and is fol lowed by another white page. The space of Annie and Zoe's relationship is located outside of the linearity of the novelistic genre, which is itself part of a patriarchal tradit ion. What is crucial at the end of Ana Historic is the fact that the voices of w o m e n , of lesbian w o m e n , too long denied and marginal ized, are not subord inated, appropr ia ted, or normalized by the dominant d iscourse of a patriarchal, heterosexist society. Perhaps many readers' d iscomfort with Ana 157 Historic derives f rom this final gesture of resistance. And yet, the conclusion is by no means closed or f in ished; on the last page Marlatt is literally "writing the per iod that arrives at no full stop" (90). The tensions explored th rough the dialogic narrative have not been resolved. The centrifugal and centripetal forces present in the text ensure a means of counter ing totalization, so that any monolog ic imaginat ion, such as Annie 's alternative, serves a strategic funct ion in the dialogic play of the text. The desire that feeds the relationship between Annie and Zoe also sustains the ongo ing process that may and must include the reader ("you") w h o will read the characters "into the page ahead" (n.p.). This movement towards the future suggests to me that the Utopian element at the end of the novel does not indicate an idealist evasion into lesbianism or the nostalgic expectat ion of return to a long-gone, better past; rather, the work ing of lesbian desire here implies a counter-hegemonic impulse that needs to be linked to a transformative polit ics. In Places Far From Ellesmere, the narrator finally escapes to Ellesmere to cont inue her search for a home, a future grave. She refers to Ellesmere most frequently as an island and a desert, both of which carry exclusively positive connotat ions for her. Ellesmere is "a happy island" (105), an "island paradise" (113). While the isolation and wi lderness of islands in the north may be associated with loneliness and danger, the narrator cherishes her sense of exile and the island's self-sufficiency (104, 125). In her "exquisite desert" (104), she does not bemoan the lack of populat ion or the lack of rain which stifles 158 vege ta t ion -on the contrary, to her Ellesmere is a "fecund island" (77). She experiences a "northern desert of desire" in which the process of desir ing and striving is more important than the achievement of goals (105) . 2 0 Ellesmere is presented as different and set apart by the narrator who has "cut ail connexion to all places far f rom Ellesmere" (77). Ellesmere is absence, awayness, remoteness, and inaccessibil i ty (77, 89, 105). This literal removal in spatial terms is also a relocation to a dream-l ike place of suspended t ime ("white nights"), a place with "no judgements exerting themselves" (110), a place that teaches "the pleasure of obl ivion" (130) and is free of "the graspings of most of [ ] man's imposit ions, his history or f iction or implacable des/scr ibement" (113). Through its "extremity of north" (131), Ellesmere Island funct ions as a threshold chronotope for the narrator (Bakhtin 1981, 248). The threshold of the north allows her to explore what is otherwise impossible. Here the narrator can at tempt to escape the rules of southern patriarchal d iscourse and un/read Anna Karenin's story of oppress ion, murder and vict imization. Here she can be "only a body" (77), desir ing to be uninscr ibed by phallocentric discourse, pretending that she is suspended f rom the wor ld of books, te lephones, and newspapers. If Van Herk's comment in "Desire in Fiction: De-siring Realism" is illuminating in this context: "[djesire moves us forward, incites change, asks for more.... The true measure of human beings is not what they know, but what they long for, what they strive to attain despite its inaccessibility. And yet, it is not the result that is important, for when one goal is reached, there will be another. What is important is the striving, prompted by desire. Finally ... de-sire will force us to abandon the well-known context for a better one, even if it is not so safe, desire will give us courage to explore the fullest range of human possibility, desire prompts us to make fiction after fiction and make them good" (1992, 84-85). 159 her own suspension is possible on Ellesmere Island, then the island may-become a refuge f rom the over-determined, mascul ine representat ions of w o m e n (Goldman 1993, 32). In such a place they can explore a new discourse, new ways of seeing in which the illusion of absence becomes presence, the invisible becomes visible, and silence becomes a language, a form of t ransgress ion. 2 1 As I read the narrator reading the text of Ellesmere in van Herk's geograf ict ione, I am t roubled, however, by the tension the narrator creates between her idea of the north as a "tabula rasa" (77), an "undiscovered place" (113) and her explicit acknowledgement of and dialogic engagement with a tradit ion of Canada's north as defined by a history of male adventurers, explorers, and exploiters (Berger 1966; Grace for thcoming) . Early on the narrator contemplates the quest ion: " [w]hat justifies place?" (20). Does a place become a place th rough its land, rivers, animals, vegetat ion, and indigenous populat ions or th rough its discovery by white explorers and its opening up by the railway? Her response to these quest ions seems straightforward: Henday (1754): Thompson (1787): Fidler (1792): Henry (1810): their wander ing bivouacs. The flats of Dried Meat Lake "studded with groves of ash-leaved maples many of which are a foot in diameter" (Macoun, 1879); "the fertility of the Battle River district" (Deville, 1883); "partly w o o d e d and with scattered trees and coppice" (Tyrrell, 1887). (20) 2 1 In her crypto-friction that explores her trip to the Arctic; van Herk identifies being "free of words" as her greatest desire (1991, 2): 'this hereness, this nowness, and nothing else. I am suspended in an Arctic, not near Arctic or high Arctic but extreme Arctic, beyond all writing ... I am simply here, reduced to being ... I am at last beyond language, at last literately invisible" (3). 160 The narrator cites those w h o have written about the Canadian northwest before her: the first white, male explorers w h o surveyed, charted, and m a p p e d the new land in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century . 2 2 She also alludes to the crucial role played in this process by powerful institutions such as the Hudson Bay Company, for which both Thompson and Fidler worked , and the Geological Survey of Canada, to which Tyrrell and Macoun were appoin ted. These references accompl ish two th ings. By cit ing official history, the narrator sets up what she seeks to undermine; at the same t ime she shows that the concept of the north or northwest, the Canadian frontier, is a construct ion that has shifted with every new exploration undertaken, every new area that was surveyed. The narrator thus quest ions any unitary definit ion of place and creates a space for herself to engage with dominant history in order to reinscribe a different narrative. Her own justif ication of place is based on personal memory . The 22 Anthony Henday (1750-62) was part of a mission to encourage distant tribes of aboriginals to trade; he travelled extensively with the Cree in 1754-55, keeping a journal of his journey up the Saskatchewan River and along the Battle River valley. David Thompson (1770-1857) provided the first maps with a comprehensive view of the western territories. Peter Fidler (1769-1822), although usually less recognized than Thompson, also played an important role in mapping western Canada. Alexander Henry (1739-1824) was one of the first English fur traders in the northwest; he was taken prisoner for a year by some Native people in 1763; he wrote what is now considered a classic of Canadian travel literature, Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories (1809). John Macoun (1831-1920) was on the first of five government surveys of western Canada in 1872; he promoted the agricultural capabilities of the western interior; he was a foremost field naturalist who was appointed to the Geological Survey of Canada in 1882. Edouard-Gaston Deville (1849-1924) was a surveyor for the French navy before he came to Canada in 1875 and became surveyor general of Canada ten years later; he is known for his experimentation with photography. He was also a founding member of the Royal Society. Jospeh Burr Tyrrell (1858-1957) consolidated information of earlier explorers and filled in gaps and blank spots on existent maps in his explorations of the northwest; he worked for the Geological Survey of Canada (1881-1898); he also discovered the dinosaur beds of southern Alberta. Later he worked as a miner and a mining consultant and edited historical publications such as the diaries of Samuel Hearne and David Thompson (The Canadian Encyclopedia 1988). 161 sources and citations cannot replace the process of individual construct ion: " [d ] ream yourself a place: Edberg (20)." I see another excellent example of this strategy of dialogical ly engaging with previous history in the narrator's at tempt to chronicle the history of Ellesmere. A compar ison of the entry for "Ellesmere Island" in The Canadian Encyclopedia with the narrator's commentary in Places Far From Ellesmere is instructive: The island was sighted by Will iam Baffin in 1616, but was not explored until the 19th century. John Ross discovered parts of the coastl ine in 1818 and the island was named for the earl of Ellesmere dur ing the Ingelfield expedit ion of 1852. Sir George Nares carried out extensive observat ions in 1875. (The Canadian Encyclopedia 1988, 687) Ellesmere ... Hard to conf igure as an island at first, s ighted by Will iam Baffin (how: f rom the shore/with a te lescope/f rom his ship?) in 1616. but not explored until the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century island: the nineteenth century novel. But John Ross discovered parts of the coastl ine in 1818 (too much symmetry) , and in 1852 the island was named, dur ing the Inglefield expedit ion, for the Earl of Ellesmere. Why? Had he given them money? What d id they read on those ice-bound shores that suggested the island should be named for him? And was their reading correct? Is it an Ellesmere, or someth ing else, some other name that other beings spoke? There must be another name, somewhere, if one only had the eyes to read it. Sir George Nares led an expedit ion of the Royal Navy (extensive exploration) in 1875 and 1876. (97, my emphasis) The narrator not only chal lenges the prerogative of white men in the explorat ions of the north but she also quest ions the way that their expedit ions have become history, that is, written history, deemed official and authoritative, as exemplif ied by the entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia. The narrator creates a double-162 voiced discourse by reaccentuating phrases and sentences f rom the encyc loped ia -wh ich I have under l ined-and quest ioning what they d o not account for (asking for reasons and practical considerat ions) and suggest ing parallels important to her (for example between the nineteenth-century island and the nineteenth-century novel). This form of d ia logism shows that Ellesmere Island is no "undiscovered place" (113), that history has documented its explorat ion. What the narrator points out, however, is that the expedit ions of these men excluded w o m e n : " [ t ]hese names, every m a p p e d configurat ion male/l ineated" (88). The narrator intends to intervene, to undermine this familiar d iscourse of exploration with its mascul ine biases, in order to be able "to read th rough, past this male historiographical f iction" (84). As the narrator explores Ellesmere Island f rom a woman's point of view, she erases the "other beings" who actually d iscovered the island, w h o gave it their own name (97): "[ f ]orty-two hundred years ago hunting bands roamed beside the inlets and f jords of Hazen Plateau. They had a name for Ellesmere, you are sure of that" (98). Only a few brief references (20, 97, 98) speak of the presence of First Nations peoples in the north and their encounters with white explorers, which are al luded to by the references to Anthony Henday and Alexander Henry. As she tries to recover women's voices, the narrator si lences those w h o m she herself can "other" and displace. Her own discourse of resistance thus becomes compl ic i t with the oppressive mascul ine discourse she seeks to disrupt. Only this erasure and compl ic i ty allow her to think of Ellesmere 163 as a "tabula rasa" (77), a place where she can be alone with Anna Karenin. 2 3 This approach is even more surprising consider ing van Herk's fascinating examination of her journey to Grise Fiord on Ellesmere Island with her Inuit guide Pijamini in her crypto-fr ict ion "In Visible Ink" (1991, 1-11). By creating a double-voiced discourse, the narrator reads the pal impsest of the north for the woman's story that has been inaccessible and unacceptable until now, concealed by a mascul ine histor iography and geography. In turn, she super imposes this story of w o m a n on the official historical and geographical construct ions we have grown accustomed to. What she does not accompl ish is to move outside of this opposi t ion in order to see other layers of this pal impsest. In "Stealing Inside After Dark," van Herk reflects on the role of pal impsests: "[the book] encloses: pages, words , ideas; it can, for a per iod of t ime, enclose the reader, a l though only when it is itself opened. That paradox speaks to the presence of book(s) in life, to the writ ing (palimpsestic) of books, their reading (pal impsestic), and their textual suggest iveness (palimpsestic) as audience, as substitute and subterfuge, as illusion and artifact" (1991, 139). Only our own pal impsest ic reading of this geograf ict ione can reinscribe what van Herk leaves 2 3 Ken Coates has commented that one of the patterns of southern control of the north is the government's treatment of the north as a tabula rasa for government action (1993/94, 25). The relocation of Inuit families and communities, and the declaration of the Yukon and North Western Territories as bilingual etc. are well-known examples. See also Louis-Edmond Hamelin on the precedence of Native Peoples and their colonization: "[t]hose who were already on the land were denied any title to that land, and this permitted the European settlers to consider the land as vacant, appropriate it and then consolidate the land grab by means of new cartography and place naming, the only official version" (1988, 15). See Grace (1991, 251-54) on representations of First Nations peoples of the north in literature. 164 unconsidered. A similar strategy, I would argue, can be detected in the cover illustration by Scott Barham. The grey and white map of British Co lumbia and Alberta, which shows the area of Edberg, Edmonton, and Calgary, serves as the g round on which a coloured insert is p laced. This insert looks like a col lage of a map of the Arct ic Archipelago, a picture of Ellesmere Island in the shape of a woman's body, and a gr id of Calgary which is super imposed on the northwest coast of Greenland, separated f rom Ellesmere Island by the Kennedy Channel . In this col lage, the woman ly shape of Ellesmere Island is super imposed on all the existing maps and becomes the centre of the cover page and van Herk's geograf ict ione, erasing geographical dist inctions and differences in the process. What then is the original text that has been obscured and overwritten by mascul ine readings? Is it Ellesmere as w o m a n , Ellesmere as the mother of w o m e n , 2 4 and north as feminine? While the dominant narratives of the north are gendered mascul ine because of mascul ine tradit ions of explorat ion, mapmak ing and histor iography, the land of the north is at the same t ime conf igured as feminine, exotic, the "other." The frontier of the north is thus "equated with W o m a n , but denied to women" (Grace for thcoming, 20): "[ t ]error of w o m e n = terror of the north. Lost in one frozen waste or another, lost to w o m e n or the wiles of Ellesmere" (123). Van Herk's geograf ict ione suggests that 2 4 See Buss's comment on the island's name: "Elles/Mere. 'Ellesmere,' the play on the foreign language's 'elles,' a female they,' and 'Mere,' the mother contained in the island's name, is a suitably playful title for the special kind of feminist play that Aritha van Herk constructs" (1993, 199-200). 165 only this reclamation of the north as feminine enables the narrator to un/read and thus free Anna f rom Tolstoy's plot. But is not her inscript ion of Ellesmere as w o m a n in danger of being compl ic i t with and co-opted by a d iscourse that has always written the island in terms of familiar t ropes such as the virgin land to be conquered? To reclaim Ellesmere f rom official history and reinscribe it as feminine, the narrator frequently relies on anthropomorph ic descr ipt ions of the island: "a northern body" (131), "thinly naked" (90), "fat with the flesh of heated snow" (96), a body with head, ears, and palm (124, 142). This body is explicitly gendered : "female desert island with secret reasons and desires" (130), "the landscape of a w o m a n " (131), "no one's mistress" (139), " islanded w o m a n " (142). Again, I sense a tension between the narrator's personif ication and sex-typing of the essential Ellesmere and her desire to reconstruct the narrative of Tolstoy's Anna. Does her strategy, I would ask with Murphy and other ecofeminists, oppose the patriarchal ideology of dominat ion or does it inadvertently reinforce elements of that ideology and thereby limit its own effectiveness in subvert ing the system it opposes (Murphy 1988, 155)? While it may be worthwhi le to treasure the land and w o m e n in a culture in which both are exploi ted, anthropomorph ic and gendered descr ipt ions of Ellesmere as w o m a n cannot be used without evoking the patriarchal f ramework in which these descr ipt ions have suppor ted the oppress ion of w o m e n and nature. To think of the island as a woman's body maintains the male/female dual ism that hierarchically divides. Places Far From 166 Ellesmere shows few traces of a dialogic chal lenge to these d ichotomies or of a struggle to deconstruct the old parad igm that rests on "humanity's false egot ism fed by anthropocentr ism" (Murphy 1988, 162). In spite of the narrator's reverent revaluation of northern space as feminine, she only inverts tradit ional gender valuation and ultimately reinscribes the patriarchal sex-typing she tries to undermine. To claim a natural rather than a constructed alliance between w o m a n and the land, I believe, only binds her more t ightly to the narrative of dominat ion in which Anna Karenin, for instance, f inds herself. In her reinscription of Ellesmere as w o m a n , the narrator seems to rewrite both land and w o m a n with agency. The narrator frees the w o m e n , " [r ]eader and Anna and Ellesmere" (139), who are "watched, j u d g e d , condemned" (126), so that they can read Ellesmere themselves (139). But the narrator depends on Ellesmere to make this possible because " [o jn ly the north can teach what reading means" (132) . 2 5 But in spite of this interdependency, the narrator does not see herself as part of the land. She remains an observer, albeit a meticulous one; only occasional ly does she wish to become part of the land, "to become Ellesmere" (121), by submerg ing herself in the rivers (100, 121). In her descr ipt ions of the envi ronment-harebel ls , poppies, muskoxen, g lac ie rs - the 2 5 Van Herk has commented on her own experience of travelling to Ellesmere Island: "the time I spent at Lake Hazen in the northern part of Ellesmere Island taught me unreading, the act of dismantling a text past all its previous readings and writings ... enabling me to untie all the neatly laced up expectations of words and their printing, their arrangement on the page, the pages bound together into a directive narrative, that then refused to be static, but turned and began to read back, to read me, to unread my very reading and my personal geography" (1991, 3-4). 167 narrator shows a fascination with objects, but she does not pay much attention to how elements of the environment interact or what role she plays in this interaction. Rather than becoming part of the landscape, she takes control of it in order to un/read Anna. Ultimately, Ellesmere ls land-" the islanded w o m a n " - a n d Anna remain passive (Walchli 1993, 17): "Ellesmere, this high sun-shadowed plateau left hold ing Lake Hazen in its pa lm, this islanded w o m a n wait ing to be read a justice or a future" (142-43). This final shift into the passive-"wai t ing to be read"--removes the agency, f reedom, and self-sufficiency the narrator earlier read for both Ellesmere and Anna. Another look at the cover shows that the picture of Ellesmere in the shape of a w o m a n also shows a passive body, the body of someone w h o is sleeping or dead. With her hands at her sides, her knees slightly pulled up, her large breast exposed, and her hair f loating toward the North Pole, this w o m a n is not about to take act ion. And Anna Karenin, of course, is killed in the end with the narrator knowing all a long that she is "dead before she begins, the end already read. You know where she is go ing , have pre/read that destination" (83). Unable to read their own futures, are both Ellesmere and Anna left helpless at the end, still dependent on the discursive practices of a patriarchal system? The ending remains ambivalent (Buss 1993, 200). The final s igh "Oh Anna" (143) can be an expression of pity and sorrow over the inescapabil i ty of the dominant d i scourse -o f the Canadian north, of Tolstoy, of the literary tradit ion. But it may also declare the solidarity of the 168 speaker with Anna, w o m e n , the reader, and a feminine north. Van Herk's geograf ict ione employs dialogic strategies to map its own text. The narrator engages dialogically with many of the earlier readings and histories of Ellesmere Island, the north, and nature. When it comes t ime to un/read Anna, however, the space in which that is possible becomes one very much control led by the narrator. Her trip to Ellesmere Island and her reinscription of the island as w o m a n is monolog ic in that it subordinates every other context and history to this perspective. The strategic quality of this gesture, like the narrator's strategic relocation to the north, does not perform the kind of parad igm shift that leads to actual practice for change. Her anthropomorph ic and gendered reinscription of the north risks being undercut and co-opted by an essential ism that easily plays into patriarchy's oppress ion of w o m e n and nature. The processes of un/reading in Marlatt's Ana Historic and van Herk's Places Far From Ellesmere always signify more than a one-direct ional reversal of act ion; they never s imply express negat ion or deconstruct ion. Instead, they need to be understood as double movements in which every un/reading becomes a new reading, every untell ing is a new tell ing, every reading also means being read, every deconstruct ion implies a reconstruct ion, and every act of undocument ing implies another act of document ing . In both texts d ia logism funct ions as the central strategy to perform these double movements . In this chapter I have focused my attention on the dialogic interrelations of chronotopes and women's life stories, the dialogic play with genre convent ions, and the 169 dialogic incorporat ion of quotat ions f rom other texts. Each of the subjects, or still f rames, to use Marlatt's metaphor, is placed into a new context so that it is no longer static and self-sufficient but takes on new meaning and begins to shi f t . 2 6 As chronotopes, stories, genre convent ions, and quotat ions begin to sound differently in their new contexts, they are defamil iarized, rehistoricized, and re-energized. In both Ana Historic and Places Far From Ellesmere, these dialogic relations attempt to break d o w n the familiar rules of format ion, the dual isms and hierarchies, on which patriarchal d iscourses of history, f ict ion, literature, and geography have rested. Through dia logism, these binaries are not merely reversed; instead, their structure is undermined and the hegemony they suppor t is unsettled in order to explore the spaces between, the alternative sites and concepts . As Jones has argued in her discussion of Ana Historic, "[t]his economy of un-thinking at the expense of the given is neither outside history (a-historic) nor assimilated to it, but ana-historic: it redefines an intertextual space in which the wri t ings that map out 'woman's place' are forced to 'finance their own subversion'" (1993, 160). Because un/reading is ultimately a reconstructive practice, Places Far From Ellesmere can be driven by van Herk's desire "to invent a women's wor ld" (1991, 132) and Ana Historic can be seen as Marlatt's at tempt "to d o a woman's version of history" (Marlatt 1989, 98). These processes of reinscribing women 's 2 6 In addition to mere reversal, the OED notes a second meaning of the prefix un- in which "the sense passes into that of releasing or setting free from confinement" (1989, Vol. XVIII, 850). 170 histories, of literally putt ing their bodies on the map (in the case of van Herk), d o not necessari ly lead to a narrative authority for w o m e n , or stability and unity of their subject posit ions. Annie's subjectivity at the end of Marlatt's novel, for example, is still in process. Al though she engages in a relationship with Zoe, their coming together points into the future of other contexts, other struggles. As I indicated earlier (155-57), I see a potential danger in the possible naturalization of lesbianism at the end of Ana Historic. I believe, however, that a strong argument can be made to suppor t even such a gesture of strategic essential ism and mono log ism because it serves to resist normalization by the dominant discourse. Such mono log ism can funct ion as a construct ion that ultimately seeks to deconstruct itself. What Fuss has so convincingly argued in the context of the essentialism debate may be a helpful reminder here: "the radicality or conservat ism of essentialism [monolog ism] depends , to a significant degree, on who is utilizing it, how it is employed, and where its effects are concentrated" (1989, 20). These quest ions of who , how, and where also have to be asked when we chal lenge van Herk's and Marlatt's texts, as I think we should, for not reflecting on their own exclusionary processes-espec ia l ly in terms of race and c lass - in their construct ion of new histor ies. 2 7 My reading of van Herk's strategy of reinscribing Ellesmere Island and the north as essentially feminine has been more sceptical. The narrator's dialogic See C. Annette Grise (1993) and Emberley (1993, 155-56). 171 engagement with chronotopes and quoted documents increasingly becomes a means of control in her at tempt to revision the north and Anna Karenin. A l though the narrator initially seems to resist any unitary definit ion of place, the essential ism that informs her authoritative construct ion of Ellesmere Island undermines and counteracts the dialogic strategies she employs. While van Herk's un/reading stalls.at the end of Places Far From Ellesmere, Marlatt's un/reading moves beyond the last page of Ana Historic as it projects a t ransformed social wor ld for which we need a transformative political practice. 172 Chapter Five Critiquing the Choice That Is Not One: Jeannette Armstrong's Slash and Thomas King's Green Grass, Running Water The counter-discourses developed in Jeannette Armstrong's Slash (1985) and Thomas King's Green Grass, Running Water (1993) chal lenge the internal colonization suffered by Native peoples in Canada and signal a contestatory politics of representation in content as well as in narrative structures. 1 Both Slash and Green Grass, Running Water respond to the choice Native peoples have been faced with in literary representations and their social contexts in Canada: assimilation or extermination. The novels reject this simplistic binary antagonism that ultimately leaves Natives no choice because both opt ions are forms of (self-)annihilation. Until recently, assimilation was the official government pol icy towards Native peoples, but even today this assimilat ionism is a powerful, implicit agenda directed towards the social, economic, and political integration of Natives into the dominant society. The history of 11 use "Native" here as a general term that refers to status and non-status Indians, Metis, Dene, and Inuit. See Kateri Damm (1993, 12) and King (1987, 5) for more detailed discussions of the complex questions of Native identity. 173 assimilation begins with early colonization and includes the British North Amer ica Act (1867), the Indian Act (1876), its amendment in 1951, the struggle over the federal White Paper in 1969, and finally the official pol icy of multiculturalism (1971), which has funct ioned "to decentre the historically and culturally specific claims of Aboriginal peoples ... submerg ing them in a vast, abstract, undifferentiated, multicultural mosaic" (Kulchyski 1995, 63). These policies have separated Natives f rom white society and have often alienated them f rom their own communi t ies (Dickinson and Wotherspoon 1992, 406). What is on the political agenda today are the quest ions of whether and how self-determinat ion and land claims can be negot iated in a Canadian nation-state. Slash and Green Grass, Running Water insist on discourses of culturally specific, rather than universal, r ights that expose the totalizing power of the choice that is not one and voice an alternative third posit ion, which is realized in the novels' character portrayals and plots but also in their narrative structures. This alternative has been descr ibed as a return to tradit ional approaches, or s imply the "Indian way" (Currie 1990, 150), or as "liberation through self-determinat ion" (Home 1995, 263). While Slash, for example, suppor ts the right to individual posit ions at the end, he does not endorse the pluralism of a liberal mult icultural ism, as Margery Fee has pointed out (1990, 175); instead, he emphasizes the need to recognize difference in opinion and aims for solidarity: " [e]ach posit ion is important and each has the right to try for it. We should all back each other up" (235). Moreover, the novel suggests that the reductive 174 "choice" between white assimilation and Native tradit ion also allows for a posit ion of dis-identif ication, in which otherness does not have to imply subordinat ion but can become "anotherness" (Godard 1990b, 217). A similiar binary has been perpetuated in representat ions of Natives in white institutions and media. Stereotypes of the Noble Savage, the Mystic Shaman, or "the chi ldren of nature" have idealized and romanticized Native peoples, while images of the drunken, lazy savage have demonized them as a potential threat or a lost cause. 2 In these fixed categories, Natives are rarely depicted as individuals. Both Armst rong and King rewrite these representat ions of Native peoples, exposing them as interested construct ions and rejecting what Marilyn Dumont has called "colonial images" that portray monol i thic images of '"nativeness 1" (1993, 48, 49). The novels show a range and multiplicity of Native experiences, in rural, tradit ional, and reserve environments as well as in urban sett ings. Part of Slash's struggle is to reject images of himself and his people as either "too Indian or not Indian enough" (Dumont 1993, 47) and to f ind enough conf idence to demand to be seen as different, but not inferior, even in the face of discr iminat ion (86). Similarly, the characters in Green Grass, Running Water chal lenge the crit icisms of white culture that they are no longer "real Indians" (141, 187), at the same t ime explor ing how to "become what [each of them] had always been. An Indian" (262). The need for new self-representations that leave 2 For more detailed analyses of images of Natives, see, for instance, Fee (1984), Terry Goldie (1989), Daniel Francis (1992), and Damm (1993). 175 behind the signs of internal colonial ism is one of the driving forces of these two novels. The desire for new representat ions is closely connected with Armstrong's and King's at tempts to defy another false choice, that is, the opposi t ion of Western literary tradit ions and Native oral storytell ing. Both texts make extensive use of direct speech, incorporat ing speech patterns of the vernacular th rough their choice of words , speech rhythms, and sentence structures. Often direct speech is used to create a sense of oral narration as stories are retold within the novels. Slash and Green Grass, Running Water perform a critical recuperat ion of these stories and the methods of storytell ing which white Western culture has often devalued as naive and simplistic. The novels refuse to posit speech and writ ing as absolute opposi tes and examine instead their complex interrelations. The result is hybrid novels that explore the notion of "orality in literacy" rather than orality and/or literacy (Calinescu 1993; Dickinson 1994, 321). Through storytel l ing, Slash and Green Grass, Running Water "give voice to Indigenous memory systems long si lenced by the history of imperial ism, and transform the usually solitary reading experience into a more cooperat ive and responsive act of l istening" (Dickinson 1994, 320). Armstrong's novel may be seen as more "polemical" than King's, to bor row King's own terminology, because it chronicles the imposi t ion of non-Native expectat ions on Native peoples and the methods of resistance employed by Native people to maintain their communi t ies (1990a, 13). King's 176 "associational" novel, on the other hand, focuses on a Native communi ty and the daily activities and ordinariness of its members rather than on the confl ict between two cultures (1990a, 1.4).3 The historical c i rcumstances for the writ ing of Slash help to explain this difference. Involved in the 'Okanagan Indian Curr iculum Project that began in 1979, Armst rong was trying to develop material for the school system: " [w]e wanted a tool to use in educat ion, to give not just the historical documentat ion of that t ime but, beyond that, the feeling of what happened just prior to the Amer ican Indian Movement, and what happened dur ing that mil i tancy per iod" (1991, 14). The need to document the prob lems of assimilation for both Native and non-Native readers drives Armstrong's Slash. As a result, Slash was publ ished in 1985 with Theytus Books. Both Theytus Books in Penticton and Pemmican Publications in Winnipeg were founded in 1980 in response to the problems Native writers were experiencing in the Canadian publ ishing industry. 4 Compared to Slash, King's Green Grass, Running Water seems less didact ic and more playful, albeit no less serious. Maybe in order to reach a wider (non-Native) audience, King publ ished his novel with the non-Native publ ishing house HarperColl ins, a decision King should not necessari ly be criticized for (Home 1995, 259-60). 3 Polemical and associational are two of the four terms King suggests to describe Native literature in his attempt to avoid the term "post-colonial"; the other two are tribal and interfusional. Tribal refers to literature that exists primarily within a tribe or community and that is usually presented in a Native language; interfusional describes Native literature that blends oral and written literature (1990a, 12-13). 4 For more information on the marginalization of Natives in the Canadian publishing industry and alternative, self-controlled publishing ventures by Natives, see Greg Young-lng (1993). 177 Armst rong uses T o m m y Kelasket, later n icknamed Slash, as the homodieget ic narrator who also funct ions as pr imary focalizer in the novel. Slash descr ibes his own experiences; he tells his own story of what it means to be Native without being despised or si lenced by whites. As Fee emphasizes, "[t]his may not be a subversive tactic in the classic realist text or in the popular novel, but it is within the literary discourse of Canada" (1990, 172). To foreground the voice of the Native narrator and focalizer is to refuse to allow the dominant d iscourse to reabsorb or normalize the voice of Native resistance and difference. The use of an homodieget ic narrator does not suggest, however, that Slash establishes a unified or au tonomous subjectivity. The novel carefully inscribes Slash's identity as a process of struggle rather than as a ready-made product , as a communi ty -based rather than as a self-sufficient project. The novel t races Slash's development f rom the sixth grade to early adu l thood, f rom an undisturbed life on the reserve th rough his involvement in Native activism in Canada and the United States in the 1960s and 70s to his return to life on the reserve with his young family. But the focus on Slash's perspective does not result in a monolog ic narrative. On the contrary, Armst rong internally dialogizes Slash's perspective to show his development by revealing and staging the kale idoscope of voices and stories that have made him who he is. The hybrid form of Slash incorporates elements of European historical f ict ion, the "Native confessional m o d e developed in the Indian Movement," the oral anecdote, and self-reflexive narrative strategies (Godard 1990b, 214). The 178 genres of the Bildungsroman, the romance quest, and the picaresque novel have also been discussed in relation to the novel (Davey 1993, 57). By employ ing multiple narrative convent ions, the novel succeeds in resisting Western literary discourses that have tended to f rame the Native in terms of binary stereotypes; moreover, it rejects the notion of an essential aspect of Native writ ing and thereby displaces the fetishization of Native tradit ion (Godard 1990b, 220). The novel manages to situate itself s imultaneously in a posit ion of resistance and complici ty. The double-voiced generic d iscourse that emerges f rom this posit ion is echoed in Slash's speech throughout the novel. The seemingly unmediated representation of Slash's direct speech often disguises the double-voiced quality of his own discourse. Somet imes f ragments of the discourses of those with w h o m he coll ides are incorporated into his own speech. Mostly, Slash distances himself f rom the discourses that try to shape his life and intrude into his language th rough stylization or the use of quotat ion marks. But these strategies of distancing differ only in degree, and the lines between marked quotat ions, stylization (which recognizes the word as belonging to someone else's discourse), and imitation (which directly appropr iates such discourse and merges with it) are easily blurred (Bakhtin 1984a, 198-90). In his rendering of the events at Wounded Knee, for example, Slash clearly marks the discourse of white authorit ies as quest ionable and suspic ious: 179 A couple of senators arrived to "talk" and they went in with that same attitude. However, they came out saying that the "hostages" didn't want to leave.... That sure put a cr imp in the act ions being contemplated by National Guard forces. The "hostages" were necessary to lay some charges against their "captors" to justify the massive military-like presence which was escalating rapidly towards a confrontat ion. What g o o d were "hostages" if they wanted to stay and suppor t the Indians? (116) What is understood by "talk" or w h o qualifies as a "hostage" obviously depends on the posit ion of the speaker, and Slash dissociates himself th rough the use of quotat ion marks f rom the posit ion of the authorit ies. Toward the end of the novel, Slash discusses with a fr iend the recognit ion of Native rights in the const i tut ion: 'Why do you think there was a morator ium called on uranium explorations? Why d o you think Berger recommended a ten year stop to any further development until land claims was settled? It's what they are do ing right now. Settling it. They will buy out the land and the billions of dollars wor th of resources on it for as little as they can. Then after that they will "give" you rights in some areas of it within provincial regulat ions for conservation... . They'll cont inue to "negotiate" on rights until that is done. Then they'll give us whatever they choose because our greatest weapon will be in their hands. ' (241) The opening quest ions are phrased in the language of bureaucrats, but then Slash marks his own posit ion by again using quotat ion marks to emphasize the hypocr isy of the word "give" as employed by the government because the rights that Natives claim are theirs already and d o not need to be given to them. The second use of the verb "give" is no longer marked, however, and it becomes more difficult here to hear the voice of anyone else but Slash. Such blurring of different voices signals the compl ic i ty of Slash's d iscourse with the hegemonic 180 discourses he opposes . In addit ion to these strategies of double-voic ing, Armst rong dialogizes Slash's perspective through the direct or reported speech of numerous others. Slash remembers and recounts events in his story not so much for their own sake but rather to allow characters to talk and interact. In his narrative he restages the political debate; he is always listening to other points of view, other voices around h im, without ever f inding a t idy solution to this multiplicity of voices (Petrone 1990, 141). Instead of a synthesis at the end, Slash emphasizes throughout how different voices have mutually inf luenced each other, in particular how they have contr ibuted to the format ion of Slash's character. A l though Slash is involved with various political g roups and movements , he comes to realize that his feelings of worthlessness and powerlessness are the result of his missing connect ions with his Native (Okanagan) communi ty , its tradit ions, and his family. Armst rong has commented on the strong desire for communi ty that drives the narrative, even when Slash is not himself aware of it: "in the writ ing process I couldn't isolate the character and keep the character in isolation f rom the development of the events in the communi ty , and the whole of the people... . Everything is a part of someth ing else. Everything is a part of a cont inuum of other th ings: a whole" (1991, 16) . 5 Once Slash realizes that as a 5 In an interview with Janice Williamson, Armstrong comments on the notion of relatedness and community with reference to the lack of gendered pronouns in Okanagan: "[i]f I don't know the name, I would say the person who has been involved in connection with this. I cant say'he,' or 'she.' A person is always connected or related to something, and we must always refer to that connection or that relationship" (1993a, 13-14). 181 Native he is " important as one person but more important as a part of everything else" (203), his life takes on a new meaning. He can no longer justify being selfish or indifferent about what happens, for example, to his health, because his illness or death wou ld be an irreplaceable loss to his communi ty . One particular form of direct speech Slash repeatedly employs is the reproduct ion or retelling of "mini-stories," for e x a m p l e o f his Uncle Joe and his grandfather Pra-cwa, which greatly contr ibutes to the dialogization of the narrative and the construct ion of a communi ty (Emberley 1993, 137). The shift to the m o d e of storytell ing destabi l izes-a l though it may not be able to e s c a p e - a simplistic generic categorizat ion because it provides a textual space to consider an alternative inscript ion of the history of Native political argument (Emberley 1993, 132). Emberley argues that Jacques Derrida's heterogeneous concept of writ ing helps us understand the alternative posit ion Armstrong's novel inscribes through storytell ing (1993, 144-47). In Of Grammatology, Derr ida deconstructs what he sees as the principal opposi t ion of the Western metaphysical tradit ion: voice (phone), which is considered natural and immediate, and wri t ing, which is perceived as derivative and representative (1976, 1 1 , 14). He at tempts to show how speech and writ ing share the same features when it comes to signif ication; the intelligibility of any sign depends on the differential network of signifiers so that no m o d e of language, spoken or written, can claim an unmediated 182 embod iment of mean ing . 6 Orality and literacy are then no longer categorical opposi tes but f ind themselves in differential relation. The d ichotomy between speech and writ ing has been the basis for universalist evolutionary theories, such as Walter Ong's in Orality and Literacy (1982), which posit a linear progression f rom a primitive oral to a superior literate consciousness. These determinist ic models have often informed the paternalistic att i tudes of Western critics towards the literary accompl ishments of Native peoples. Because Native wri t ings d o not fit the convent ions of Western literary tradit ions, they have been regarded as obscure or unsophist icated. However, recent critics of the orality/literacy divide have argued that orality and literacy should be understood as concrete social practices in specif ic contexts and not in developmental or hierarchical relation (Calinescu 1993, 177; Finnegan 1988, 160-61). A l though Bakhtin has identified the incorporat ion of multiple speech genres as a way of creating heteroglossia in the novel, his dist inction among genres proves problemat ic in a discussion of Slash. Bakhtin acknowledges the heterogeneity of both oral and written speech genres, as well as their socio-historical specificity, but he also dist inguishes between pr imary and secondary genres, explaining that pr imary genres are simple while secondary, (complex) speech genres "arise in more complex and comparat ively highly developed and 6 See Derrida's explanation: "[n]ow from the moment one considers the totality of determined signs, spoken, and a fortiori written, as unmotivated institutions, one must exclude any relationship of natural subordination, any natural hierarchy among signifiers or orders of signifiers" (1976, 44). 183 organized cultural communicat ion (primarily written) that is artistic, scientific, sociopoli t ical, and so on" (1986, 62). While secondary genres are not exclusively literary genres, his classification of the oral story as a less complex or developed genre betrays his own ideological bias in a Western literary tradit ion. His narrow Eurocentr ic perspective extends to his characterization of the storyteller. For Bakhtin, the storyteller "is not a literary person"; he/she belongs in most cases to "the lower social strata, to the c o m m o n people" who bring with them oral speech (1984a, 192). While the distinction itself may be val id, the implicat ion of a hierarchical relationship is d isconcert ing. To base a reading of novels such as Slash or Green Grass, Running Water on those assumpt ions would be harmful indeed. In reading Native literature, readers and literary critics need to to recognize different sets of cultural assumpt ions concerning the role of story, which Lee Maracle has so eloquent ly summar ized: " [w]ords are not objects to be wasted. They represent the accumulated knowledge, cultural values, the vision of an entire people or peoples. We believe the proof of a thing or idea is in the do ing . Doing requires some form of social interaction and thus, story is the most persuasive and sensible way to present the accumulated thoughts and values of a people" (1992a, 87). Storytell ing foregrounds the not ion of addressivity which accord ing to Bakhtin is a constitutive feature of all utterances (1986, 95, 99). Because a story has to be told to someone, without w h o m it would not exist, the role of the listener is of great importance. In the oral performative context of the story, co-184 operat ion between storyteller and listener is critical. As Ron and Suzanne Scollon have suggested in their s tudy of Northern Athabaskan oral tradit ions, the oral tradit ion, as represented by narrative performance, relies on "mutual respect between storyteller and listener in a one-to-one situation, the mutual negotiat ion of posit ion that never assumes that one side should be al lowed to make its own sense of the situation 'stick'" (1984, 179). Responsive and respectful reading and listening is required, then, of the reader of Slash, who is not only situated as the listener to Slash's narrative but within that narrative as the listener to other stories as well . The novel, moreover, draws attention to its own staging of the narrative as oral performance, albeit in written f ict ion, th rough the self-reflexive prologue and epi logue. Armst rong creates a circular movement that matches Slash's return to himself, his process of heal ing: "I look at that child and f ind him a stranger and yet he is nearer to me, as I am now, than when I became a young man full of a destructive compuls ion to make change happen" (13). The prologue begins with a focus on the act of narrat ing: " [a]s I begin to write this story, I think back" (13). Introductory phrases such as "I must examine" and "I must understand" foreground the reflective and exploratory quality of the narrative as well as the need for and urgency of its tel l ing. In this brief introductory sect ion, Slash alludes to the important connect ion between himself as an individual and his people, a recognit ion of mutual dependence that is really the ou tcome of the story he is about to tell. The epi logue returns to the present t ime of narrat ion: 185 "Tonight, I sit here up at the Flint Rock.... I dec ide to tell my story for my son and those like him because I must" (253). Slash reveals here that he can no longer think of himself as merely an individual; being a part of the rest of his people, he feels a responsibi l i ty especially for the next generat ion, that of his son Marlon. Just before he learns of his wife Maeg's death, Slash tells his infant son : "[i]f I keep to the Indian path and protect your rights the way Pra-cwa explained, you will be the generat ion to help them white men change because you won't be filled with hate.... You are the part of me that extends in a line up toward the future" (250). The novel's final shift into the poetic m o d e with a poem to nature in the epi logue once again chal lenges the generic codes of the Western historical narrative. Native history is not measured here by white invader-settler not ions of progress but by the Natives' ability to return to health and to f rame and conceptual ize their own understanding. The f raming of the oral story also reminds the reader that the novel is indeed a distancing med ium that is not the same as the face-to-face interaction of oral storytell ing (Scollon and Scol lon 1984, 184). The novel thus avoids an uncritical and essentialist simplif ication of storytell ing and emphasizes instead the notion of orality in literacy. The frequent back and forth movement between opposi t ional d iscourses, categories, and voices undermines and ultimately begins to blur the lines of division between them. Through its documentat ion of Native resistance and its narrative structures, the novel recognizes social conflict and political process 186 within Native cultures and between Native and non-Native societies as crucial. Thus, as the third opt ion, self-definition together with political analysis and activism can become "the foundat ion for pro-act ion rather than re-action" (Currie 1990, 150). Not unlike Slash, but in an even more pronounced way, King's Green Grass, Running Water achieves the interesting "blending of oral literature and written literature" which is characteristic of what King has called "interfusional" writ ing (1990a, 13). He incorporates elements of the oral tradit ion and invader-settler narratives in a creative hybr id, "an intricate col lage of mult iple Vignettes'" (Home 1995, 260), and makes storytell ing itself a topic of his stories. The narrator becomes a storyteller and the reader becomes a listener as the emphasis shifts to voices, rhythms, and the interaction between storyteller and audience in Green Grass, Running Water. This sense of communi ty is crucial for the joint sense-making that King's puns, wordplays, and allusions require. The narratives of Green Grass, Running Water shift frequently between three main d imensions: the storyteller and Coyote, the four Indians, and the main characters (Alberta, Babo, Latisha, Norma, Charlie, Lionel, Eli, Port land). The multiple narratives, which are often connected through simultaneous events, locations, or characters' relations, decentre any authoritative perspective in the novel. The f ragmented narrative structure gives authority to the voices of all people involved in the novel, refusing a monolog ic voice, a strategy that Kim Blaeser has singled out as a characteristic of contemporary Abor iginal literature 187 (in Young- lng 1993, 184). The novel becomes more than a col lage of many separate pieces, however, only if the reader considers all stories, all perspectives in relation to each other. The task at hand is not to f ind out which story is accurate but to explore how they differ f rom and relate to each other. In the words of the storyteller, "[ t ]here are no truths, Coyote," I says. "Only stories" (391). By highl ight ing the gaps between narrative sect ions, King exposes the interstices of his narratives as sites where meaning can be negot iated. However, the novel does not so much sustain neat separat ions between stories and perspectives as attempt to keep those boundar ies f rom solidifying. For example, the trickster f igures of Coyote and the four Indians show up in the stories of other characters as well . King has model led the four Indians after four familiar pairs of white settlers and their Native companions in Western literature and movies; interestingly, he names the four Indians after the familiar white characters, thereby undermining expectat ions about identities and naming. The four are the Lone Ranger of western movies with his compan ion Tonto; Hawkeye, first known as Natty B u m p p o in Fenimore Cooper 's "Leatherstocking Tales," and his compan ion Ch ingachgook; Robinson Crusoe and his helper Friday f rom Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe; and Ishmael of Herman Melville's Moby Dick with his fr iend Queequeg. It hardly comes as a surprise that the Indians themselves d o not know of the tradit ions behind these characters and their compan ions : "Have a nice day, the soldiers say. Say hello to Tonto for us. A n d all those soldiers wave. Who's Tonto? says Ishmael. Beats me, says the 188 Lone Ranger. Keep waving" (418). The Western images of the suppression of Natives, as embod ied by the white settler f igures, are not familiar to the four Indians because they are not appropr iate: the four Indians d o not oppress whites. The naming thus chal lenges the validity and pervasiveness of these images. The four Indians are locked up in Dr. Hovaugh's hospital , f rom which they have escaped to "fix the wor ld," "helping out" (416, 418, 313, 427)--as they have done repeatedly in the p a s t - a n d to which they return of their own accord once they have accompl ished their task (427-28). Unlike their namesakes, whose goal it was to tame the wi lderness, to move the frontier of white sett lement westward, and to f ind strength in adversity, the four Indians attempt to redress the prob lems of such an invader-settler society and its impact on Native peoples. So they use the cars of Alberta, Babo/Dr. Hovaugh, and Char l ie - the blue Nissan, the red Pinto, and the white Karmann-Ghia~to sabotage the Grand Baleen Dam (414-15); they change the ou tcome of yet another John Wayne western that they are watching in Bill Bursum's store so that "none of the Indians fell," instead "soldiers began falling over" (321); and they reunite Lionel with his family and communi ty by lending him George's leather jacket. These Indians show qualit ies of the trickster as they appropr iate the identities of the four settlers to escape f rom Fort Marion (417-19) and change names and gender identities, a l though only Babo Jones seems to know that they are w o m e n (53). While tr icksters are often quite literally known for their tr ickery and crude behaviour, these four 189 Indians funct ion as creators, culture heroes, and teachers (Gill and Sullivan 1992, 308). They frequently play a role in the process of c rea t ion- they try to tell the right story, to d o it right (14). These tr ickster-transformers funct ion as culture heroes w h o assist the Creator with the wor ld and the storyteller with the word (M.L. Ricketts in Bright 1993, 2 1 ; Hirschfelder and Molin 1991, 58). But the trickster comes in different shapes in Green Grass, Running Water. In addit ion to the four Indians, Coyote, one of the most c o m m o n trickster f igures in Plains and West Coast cultures, plays a crucial role in the novel. A l though s/he participates in the creation stories, Coyote also has a more destructive side. S/he is responsible for the earthquake and the ensuing f lood that destroys the d a m and kills Eli (415). S/he is brave and cowardly, conservative and open-minded, wise and stupid, mischievous and sincere (Bright 1993, xi). S/he cannot help tamper ing with the wor ld . Coyote, like the four Indians, seems to be able to change gender identities. He seems responsible, however, for impregnat ing both Mary (269-72) and Alberta: '" [b]ut I was helpful, too, ' says Coyote. 'That w o m a n w h o wanted a baby. Now, that was helpful.' 'Helpful! 1 said Robinson Crusoe. 'You remember the last t ime you did that?'.... 'We haven't straightened out that mess yet,' said Hawkeye" (416). But in spite of, or maybe because of, the contradict ions s/he represents and the confusion s/he causes, s/he is a paradoxical f igure important for his/her role in change, cri t icism, and self-reflection. King has explained his use of Coyote in Green Grass, Running Water. " [w]hat I needed in this particular novel was a sacred c lown. Someone w h o 190 could point out the fallacies in situations and arguments and w h o made sure that nothing stayed done" (1994, 6 ) . 7 A l though the four Indians and Coyote are helpers of the creator in his project of fixing the wor ld , some things always get "messed up" along the way (416, 427). So while the novel may c o m e to an end, the reader has learned that the trickster f igures will eventually return and retell the story to fix it, yet again, and again. When the readers encounter the storyteller, Coyote and the Four Indians, they learn immediately that this is only one of many t imes that the stories of the creation of the wor ld have been to ld. Significantly, the novel begins with Native creation stories told by the storyteller and Coyote as well as the four Indians; 8 the mono log ism of Christianity is not only d isplaced but mocked in the initial play on d o g and g o d / G o d as a backward d o g or a lesser coyote. The Lone Ranger is chastised when he begins with fairy-tales and the story of Genesis: "That's the wrong story,' said Ishmael. 'That story comes later.' 'But it's my turn, ' 7 King's reference to the "sacred clown" reminds me of Bakhtin's discussions of folkloric forms in the Middle Ages which tended toward satire and parody and which often took cyclical forms. In these forms Bakhtin identifies the figures of the rogue, the clown and the fool as central to the later development of the European novel. One of their features and privileges is "the right to be 'other' in this world, the right not to make common cause with any single one of the existing categories that life makes available; none of these categories quite suits them, they see the underside and the falseness of every situation" (1981, 159). In the struggle against conventions and fixed categories, these figures have "the right not to understand, the right to confuse, to tease, to hyperbolize life; the right to parody others while talking, the right to not be taken literally ... the right to live a life in ... the chronotope of theatrical space, the right to act life as a comedy" (163). 8 Native American creation stories can vary significantly according to a people's culture, geography, history etc. For the Cherokee, for example, the world began with water with the animals living above the rainbow (Hirschfelder and Molin 1991, 58). Changing Woman and Thought Woman are central to Navajo stories (Gill and Sullivan 1992, 56; Flick 1996, 4);, First Woman is a figure in Earth Diver creation stories and Old Woman is a helper to a culture hero (Flick 1996, 10). 191 said the Lone Ranger. 'But you have to get it right,' said Hawkeye. 'And,' said Robinson Crusoe, 'you can't tell it all by yourself" (14). The intersections of the cyclical nature of these retell ings and repetit ions with the developing narratives show that linearity is not an inherent trait of the lives of the characters, but a fiction created in the process of reading. Their life stories are part of a larger story reenacted by the storyteller and the trickster f igures. One of the events that the four Indians re-enact repeatedly is the incarceration of Natives at Fort Marion in 1874. Just as Alberta retells the story over and over again in her history classes (18-21), the Indians re-enact it and escape every t ime by assuming other identities such as those of the four settlers. As H o m e has pointed out: "[t]his f requent retelling is also a way of ensuring that this history of oppress ion not be forgotten" (1995, 268). Given the repetitive and recursive qualit ies of these stories, there can be no closure, no final word in this novel. King has spoken of Green Grass, Running Water as "a very flat book. It comes up to a particular level and tries to maintain itself at that level all the way through. It's not the cl imaxes of the novel that are important, it's what the characters do . They don't have to d o big th ings- i t ' s the little movements that t ickle me" (1994, 5). The novel. focuses on the Native communi ty in B lossom, Alberta, the character's daily activities, their struggles and joys, and presents them through contrapuntal , quick g l impses. King's character portrayals reject the binaries of the white " imaginary Indian," displace the familiar stereotypes of Natives as unemployed, rural folk with alcohol and drug prob lems; Native 192 characters in Green Grass, Running Water are neither demonized nor idealized. Alberta Frank teaches history at the university in Calgary f rom a Native perspective; she is involved with two men, Charlie and Lionel, but despi te her desire to have a chi ld, she would prefer to be independent of both. Latisha runs the Dead Dog Cafe in Blossom and raises her chi ldren by herself; she is recovering f rom an abusive relationship with her former spouse George Morningstar, w h o exemplif ies white appropr iat ion later in the novel. Norma is Eli's sister and Lionel's aunt and highly values Native culture and communi ty ; she is critical of her family members who have denied their Native heritage. These Native w o m e n are presented as agents of their own lives; they are strong w o m e n w h o nevertheless have their share of problems. When it comes to the male characters, King's characterizations are less positive. Port land, in order to become a B-movie star in Hol lywood, denies his roots and transforms himself into the " imaginary Indian" that white society expects him to be. Eli is the Native gone white, "[ t ]he Indian w h o couldn't g o home" (286). Once he has left for Toronto, where he becomes a professor of English at the University of Toronto and marries Karen, a white w o m a n , Eli no longer returns to the reserve. Charlie was employed as a token Native lawyer by Duplessis International Associates, the company that bui lds the Grand Baleen Dam and needs to convince, or force, Eli to leave his cabin so they can open the sluice gates: " [ t ]hey hired him because he was a Blackfoot and Eli was Blackfoot and the combinat ion played well in the newspapers" (116). And Lionel, 193 after work ing for the Department of Indian Affairs, gets stuck with a job at Bursum's store, giving up on his potential and dreams. But these men, w h o m H o m e has descr ibed as "mimic men" (1995, 268), change: Eli retires to his mother 's cabin after her death, fiercely f ighting the construct ion of the d a m for ten years; Portland becomes the victorious chief in the "fixed" movie at Bursum's store; Charlie loses his job but reunites with his father; and Lionel leaves his j ob at Bursum's, returns to the Sun Dance and defends his Native values against the intruder George. So even the more problemat ic male characters defy s imple stereotypes, which allows King to show that the idea of the Native is always a const ruct ion- i t was in the past and it is in the present. "As t imes change," King insists, "those construct ions change" (1994, 3). As he creates characters who determine their own self- images and make their own decisions, King is able to show a broad range of characters rather than a reductive and false binary. The narrative provides the reader with brief g l impses into the lives of these Native characters, but the relationships of their stories to each other and to their Native culture suggest that their individuality is possible only through their sense of communi ty . All of the characters experience the tensions between their desire for independence and communi ty . However, a self-determined identity and a sense of belonging to a communi ty seem to depend on each other. Only when the characters return, literally or metaphorical ly, to their Native communi ty d o they experience peace of mind and a sense of wholeness. Yet, with the strength that belonging provides comes the responsibi l i ty and obl igat ion 194 to mend and keep up the communi ty (King 1990b, 67). But how? Maria Campbel l believes that "[ t ]he together remember ing of the bits and pieces can, and will, realize our communi ty and rebuild our nation" (1995, 89): "[Realizing communi ty for my people is Meena kah tip aim sooyak. To own ourselves again. In other words , self-government" (86). The event of the Sun Dance provides a g o o d example of communi ty responsibi l i ty and renewal in Green Grass, Running Water. The re-emergence of Sun Dances in Native communi t ies signals such an act of self-determination after they were banned in both the U.S. and Canada when government regulations and Christian missions were establ ished on reservations in the nineteenth century (Hirschfelder and Molin 1991, 284; Gill and Sullivan 1992, 291). Alberta actually remembers an incident in her teens when her family wanted to attend a dance in Browning; they were harrassed at the Amer ican border and their outfits were conf iscated (256-57). The novel does not have to descr ibe the sacred events of the Sun Dance themselves for the Dance to become a focus of the narrative as the characters prepare for their part icipation. Latisha and Norma cont inue a long tradit ion of their foremothers by attending the' Dance but Alberta, Eli, and Lionel mark a return and a new beginning by joining the communi ty festivities. The role of the reader in the performance of the text is crucial not only for intratextual relations but also for the many intertextual references in Green Grass, Running Water. King subverts expectat ions of a white invader-settler culture by reinscribing or parodying many of its central icons: Christianity (especially the 195 Bible), not ions of progress, literary canons, history, and stereotypes of Natives. But in addi t ion to his satirizing of these "ideological pillars," which exposes them to be "fraudulent and destructive" (Home 1995, 259), King puts Native tradit ions and self-determination in their place. The naming of characters relies heavily on intertextual references, 9 so d o allusions to nove ls . 1 0 Many of these references funct ion as jokes or games; part of the fun, I believe, is the quest ion whether the reader is able to pick up on these intertextual references. But not everything that is funny on the surface should be taken lightly. King obviously takes humour quite seriously; the reader, too, may sooner or later catch on to the subversive quality of King's jokes and puns, the double edge of his humour. By gett ing readers to laugh at themselves, by blurring familiar divisions and ca tego r ies -whether between reality and fiction in his character construct ions, or between history and g o s s i p - K i n g enjoys "putting the reader on the skids" (1994, 5). It is no wonder then that his humour is unsett l ing, no wonder that he uses tr ickster f igures w h o will constantly keep the wor ld moving, w h o won't tolerate 9 1 am thinking here of the afore-mentioned names of the four Indians, but also of the following possible intertextual references: Joe Hovaugh plays on the name Jehovah; George Morningstar refers to George Armstrong Custer's nickname "Son of the Morningstar"; Buffalo Bill Bursum recalls Holm O. Bursum who proposed the Bursum Bill of 1921, which aimed to take large portions of their lands away from Pueblos; Clifford Sifton refers to the Superintendent of Indian Affairs with the same name in Laurier's government who promoted settlement of the West by displacing Native populations; Eli Stands Alone refers to Elijah Harper who blocked the Meech Lake Constitutional Accord in 1990; and Grand Baleen Dam evokes the James Bay hydroelectric project (Flick 1996, 2, 4, 6, 9). 1 0 Some of the allusions are to Timothy Findley's Not Wanted on the Voyage, Howard O'Hagan's 7ay John, Emily Carr's Klee Wyck, and Hugh MacLennan's Barometer Rising, as well as to historical figures such as Ann Hubert, Pauline Johnson, John Richardson, Susanna Moodie, and Archie Belaney. 196 complacent stasis. This sort of cross-referencing and interrelating is demand ing for the reader. Reading Green Grass, Running Water is not an easy task; to make sense of the novel, readers need to connect stories, perspectives, intra-and intertextual references; they also need to become listeners and make the novel into a story or an oratory, so that they will notice the puns and the shifts of voices. It is not important that the readers understand all the jokes or connect ions King makes, but that they begin to negotiate meanings in the many in-between spaces of the narrative. Whether the audience consists of Native or non-Native readers, 1 1 the novel teaches them to listen, to connect, and to negotiate rather than to speak. Both Green Grass, Running Water and Slash strive for d iscourses of crit ique, not negat ion. As Godard has pointed out, their transformative practices c o m e out of the analysis and crit ique of binary d iscourses on Natives (1990b, 221). These novels create spaces for a crit ique of the choice that is not one; they open up sites where counter-hegemonic posit ions can be constructed (Emberley 1993, 136). In the process of such inscriptions, self-determination allows Natives to redefine the knowledge that invader-settler cultures have imposed, knowledge that has si lenced, annihi lated, or marginal ized Natives in settler histories of discovery; in these novels, knowledge is reclaimed as 1 1 King has commented on writing for both Native readers to remind them of continuing values of their cultures and to show the active present and viable future iri}addition to a usable past, and for non-Natives, allowing them to associate with the Native world without feeling encouraged to feel a part of it (1990, 14). 197 interpretation through storytell ing (Emberley 1993, 150). The novels' textual polit ics suppor t the notion of orality in literacy th rough their incorporat ion of oral features, e m b e d d e d narratives, and dialogic interpellations of stories within written texts. By interrelating multiple voices and listening to stories, the reader re-enacts the characters' own experiences of performatively consti tut ing their identities. Their narrative strategies unfold an epistemological process as a way of knowing through telling and reading. The "Native pedagogy" that Armstrong's and King's novels display teaches readers that they cannot look to these texts and their incorporated stories as "evidence" of the past (Fee and Flick 1995, 11). As Julie Cruikshank points out, oral tradit ion should be understood as "a w indow on ways the past is culturally const i tuted and d iscussed" (1990, 14). It is important not only that we read these stories but how we read them. In her introdution to Sojourner's Truth, Lee Maracle explains how Native stories differ f rom the European tradit ion: Most of our stories don't have or thodox "conclusions"; that is left to the listeners, who we trust will d raw useful lessons f rom the s t o r y -not necessari ly the lessons we wish them to draw, but all conclusions are considered val id. The listeners are drawn into the d i lemma and are expected at some point in their lives to actively work themselves out of it. (1990, 11-12) In Green Grass, Running Water, Eli similarly introduces his words to Lionel: '"Can't just tell you that straight out. Wouldn' t make any sense. Wouldn' t be much of a story'" (361). As readers/l isteners, we are not provided with solut ions in these novels; instead, it is our responsibi l i ty to engage with the stories and 198 novels and to make sense of them. If we engage with the "di lemma," Maracle suggests, we can become tricksters, "the a rch i tec ts ] of great social t ransformation" (1990, 13). A l though Maracle may thus be grant ing the reader permission to engage more playfully with texts, to abandon tradit ional categories and hierarchies, Susie O'Brien reminds us of the contradictory inscript ion of the white tr ickster (1995, 82). While the not ion of the trickster can be l iberating, Maracle's categorical definit ion of the other as white and European simultaneously limits "the f reedom of the white Trickster to t ranscend difference and den[ ies] the reader's f reedom to assert a multivalent identity" (O'Brien 1995, 83). As a white reader, I feel simultaneously accomodated and alienated in my readings of Slash and Green Grass, Running Water. This tension reinforces my belief that dialogic relations and storytell ing d o not only signify play in these novels; readers need to take seriously the contradict ions and confl icts the texts reveal. The performative element in Armstrong's and King's novels keeps categories and posit ions, including the reader's, f rom solidifying--it keeps confl icts alive. By participating in these performances, we can affirm possibil it ies of intervention. 199 Chapter Six Is Difficulty Impolite?: The Performative in Margaret Sweatman's Fox In his explorat ion of nation as narration, Homi K. Bhabha quest ions the homogenei ty and authority of a nationalist pedagogy in which people funct ion as a priori historical objects (1994, 145). The performative, Bhabha suggests, is a counter-hegemonic strategy that constructs people as subjects in the present; it does not just negate the accumulat ive history of the pedagogica l but th rough repetit ion it destabil izes and subverts the claims of the pedagogica l to t ranscendent authority. "The liminality of the people," Bhabha explains, that is, "their double- inscr ipt ion as pedagogica l objects and performative s u b j e c t s -demands a 'time' of narrative that is d isavowed in the discourse of historicism" (151). Margaret Sweatman's Fox (1991) creates that temporal i ty of the in-between and shows how the performative can operate through a narrative re-staging of the Winnipeg General Strike. The novel presents a col lage of mult iple voices, leaving the reader with the often difficult task of relating them to each other. Many readers, Sweatman suspects, will f ind such difficulty impolite, because "[i]t is a rejection of the discursive pact with the reader which insists on a prescr ibed message" (1993, 163). Discarding the criterion of poli teness, 200 Sweatman uses the performative in Fox, both in a literal and metaphor ic sense, to chal lenge the authority of the prescr ibed historical message and to show readers that the present is full of possibil it ies. In the first critical analysis of the role of w o m e n in the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, Mary Horodyski wonders : "[f]or all that has been written on women's actions dur ing the Winnipeg general sympathet ic strike of 1919, it could be conc luded easily that females were not there at all, that they passed the six weeks hol idaying at Lake Winnipeg. The histor iography of the strike has been male-centred, and like all of history which refuses to include w o m e n and renders them invisible, it has been severely biased and incomplete" (1986, 28) . 1 Sweatman acknowledges Horodyski 's article in the novel's b ib l iography as one of the sources she consul ted on the Winnipeg Strike. Fox is a rewrit ing of the events surrounding the Winnipeg General Strike, or better, a radical revising of the events as histor iography has told us about them (Ellis 1991, 7 1 ; Fischlin 1995, 57). Two decades earlier, Ann Henry's play Lulu Street, first per formed in 1967, had already focused on the Winnipeg Strike and the experiences of two working-class w o m e n , Elly and Mrs. One, whose father and husband are involved in the strike. Mrs. One's hopes that " [every th ing will g o back to normal" once the strike is over (1975, 110) are shattered when her husband is killed 1 For subsequent studies of women's roles in the Winnipeg strike, see Linda Kealey (1987) and (1989) as well as Pam Tranfield (1989). 201 dur ing the riots of "Bloody Saturday" and Elly's father leaves to escape arrest. But the play says very little about the Strike itself and the w o m e n remain in the kitchen of their rooming house. 2 Sweatman's Fox reinscribes a wider range of w o m e n into the narratives of the Strike: w o m e n who went on strike, w o m e n w h o marched and were jai led, w o m e n w h o organized the food kitchen at the Oxford Hotel, w o m e n who were only marginal ly inconvenienced by the strike and regarded demonstrat ions as entertaining spectacles, w o m e n w h o substi tuted for workers, and w o m e n w h o tried to feed families when food suppl ies were quickly d iminishing. In this chapter I consider how the central female characters in Sweatman's novel develop a sense of communi ty-be longing and how the text foregrounds the performative through its narrative structure to write opposi t ional and transformative polit ics. The Winnipeg General Strike is probably the single most studied event in Canadian labour history (B.D. Palmer 1983, 173). 3 The principle of collective 2 Douglas Durkin's 1923 novel The Magpie, republished in 1974, is also set around the time of the Winnipeg Strike. The protagonist Craig Forrester, nicknamed Magpie, has just returned from the war and is full of hope for a new age in which all the promises of reform made during the war will come true. But his expectations are frustrated. He finds himself opposing Lasker Blount, the strike-breaking expert brought in to deal with the Winnipeg workers, as well as his upper-class wife Marion Nason whose superficiality and greed become unbearable to him. In the end, Forrester returns to the countryside where he grew up and is reunited with his childhood sweetheart Martha Lane. 3 On 1 May, after three months of negotiations with the Winnipeg Builders' Exchange, all the unions grouped together under the Building Trades Council went on strike; they were joined by the Metal Trades Council the following day. The Winnipeg Trades and Labour Council polled affiliated unions on a general sympathetic strike, after it had been informed of the employers' refusal to bargain. The General strike commenced on 15 May at 11 a.m.; within hours almost 30,000 workers, many of whom were unorganized, had left their jobs. A General Strike Committee bargained with the employers and co-ordinated the provision of essential services. Opposition to the strike was organized by the Winnipeg Citizens' Committee of 1,000, which brushed aside the strikers' demands and declared the strike to be a revolutionary conspiracy. After the arrest of ten strike leaders on 16 202 bargaining was the central issue dur ing the strike, comb ined with the demand for a living wage and a general improvement of work ing condit ions. Labour and socialist polit ics have been examined through the strike and the format ion of the One Big Union, and state policies have been analysed through the RCMP act ion in the days of unrest. Traditionally, historians have sought to contextualize and explain the labour confrontat ion through political and economic analysis, d isregarding, for example, the role of language and discourse in the reconstruct ion of strike issues (Reimer 1993). Either the strike has been seen as part of Western radicalism (Bercuson 1990) or, in more recent revisionist readings that develop a "labor revolt thesis," the strike has been treated as part of a nation-wide ideological chal lenge that was connected to international changes (G. Kealey 1984). Fox is an intricate col lage of roughly one hundred sect ions that vary in length f rom just a few lines to up to six pages; some of these sections have titles (which somet imes funct ion as ironic commentary) ; others are separated by dividing marks; some are dated, others are not. The text incorporates narrative sect ions, quotat ions f rom the mainstream and labour presses, 4 advert isements and 17 June and the events of "Bloody Saturday" on 21 June, when the Royal North-West Mounted Police charged into a crowd of strikers, killing one man and injuring many others, the Strike Committee announced the termination of the strike on 25 June for the following day. For more detailed discussions see, for instance, Kenneth McNaught (1959), Norman Penner (1975), David Jay Bercuson (1990), and J.M. Bumsted (1994). 4 The Western Labour News was the official newspaper of the Trades and Labor Council edited by William Ivens. The Central Strike Committee published a Special Strike Edition from 18 May to 23 June which employed a language of "working class entitlement" growing out ot the war that had recently ended (Reimer 1993,220). The Winnipeg Citizen was the daily paper put out by the Citizens' 203 (27, 132), letters (9, 44, 176), a telegram (184), song lyrics (166), entries f rom the Canon's diary (38, 50, 58, 108, 148) and extracts f rom Rev. John Maclean's diary (114, 118, 155, 173), inscriptions of signs and banners (96, 165), quotat ions f rom publ ic speeches (by F.J. Dixon and Will iam Ivens, 30, 32, 104, 143) as well as unidentif ied quotat ions f rom Karl Marx (151 , 170-72) and immediate commentators such as J.S. Woodswor th (197). The col lage of documents and discourses emphasizes that the revisionary process is not linear or cont inuous and will not Sustain the division of private and publ ic spheres. The novel becomes a forum, an argument, in which different contr ibut ions are placed side by side to be negotiated (Sweatman 1995a). By introducing several speech genres, the novel recreates multiple contexts that the reader is asked to consider. As these genres recover old contexts, they also suggest the possibil i ty of new ones (Bakhtin 1986, 87-88). One particularly interesting strategy Sweatman employs to reaccentuate incorporated genres is their translations f rom prose into poetry, which displaces and hybridizes generic convent ions. The quotat ions f rom Marx serve as a g o o d example of this process of dialogizing th rough generic translation (170-72). In Fox, Sweatman incorporates historical data that studies have compi led about the strike. The novel fol lows the chronology of events between Committee and distributed free on the streets. The Winnipeg Free Press and the Winnipeg Tribune, which was at times sympathetic to labour but ultimately opposed to the general strike, are the mainstream newspapers quoted in the novel; these dailies frequently carried full page advertisements paid for by the Citizens' Committee (Penner 1975, 116). 204 22 December 1918 and 21 June 1919, also known as "Bloody Saturday." 5 Sweatman combines publ ic events, which have const i tuted the nationalist pedagogy, with private ones, which perform disrupt ions of its homogeneous narrative. The reader recognizes the fol lowing central events: the crucial assembly in the Walker Theater on 22 December 1918, the first strike announcements on 1 May, the General Strike vote on 14 May, the establ ishment of the Citizens' Commit tee of 1000 on 16 May, the forty-minute legislation on 6 June, the arrests of 16 and 17 June, and "Bloody Saturday" on 21 June. Historical personages, for example six of the strike leaders arrested on 16 and 17 June (George Armst rong, R.B. Russell, A.A. Heaps, R.E. Bray, Will iam Ivens, John Queen), interact with fictional ones such as MacDougal and the messenger boy, Stevie. In the process the line that supposed ly separates fact f rom fiction is blurred. Frequently, the novel splits the chronology of events by counterpoint ing activities that occur at the same t ime or by focusing on one event that is perceived f rom the perspectives of different characters. 6 For example, while 5 1 have only noticed one possible inconsistency in the novel's chronology. Both "Stevie on the bridge" (122) and the much later "Parade" (162-66) seem to refer to the parade of June 4 when pro-strike soldiers marched south from Victoria Park, crossed the Maryland Bridge, over the Assiniboine and through Crescentwood-the wealthy residential district of South Winnipeg--and re-crossed north over Osborne Street Bridge to return to the city centre. At the same time F.G. Thompson had organized a counter-parade of loyalist,anti-strikers (Bercuson 1990, 146-48; Bumsted 1994, 46). Mary sees the anti-strikers organized by Drinkwater in the city and compares them to the pro-labour soldiers whom she sees marching through her own part of town when she returns to her father's house. 6 Sweatman draws attention to another counterpoint by ending several sections with characters' reflections on the future: Drinkwater "looks into the stark early spring night and he sees the future" (78); for MacDougal, "this morning, the Future is amber, it is the future of First Things" (46); 205 Eleanor is entertaining fr iends at a t oboggan party (1-5), "The Unlawful Assembly" takes place at the Walker Theatre (6-8), a mass meet ing co-sponsored by the Winnipeg Trades and Labour Counci l and the Socialist Party of Canada . 7 Many prominent speakers express their views on the controversial policies of the present Union government (for example, the orders in counci l passed under the War Measures Act, the military intervention in Russia, and the incarceration of political prisoners) and call on the workers to "unite and overthrow the capitalist system" (8). Similarly, while Eleanor and her fr iend Grace are talking about Eleanor's brother Tony, w h o died in the war (30-32), a meeting is being held at the Labour Church, the church for workers organized in Winnipeg by W. Ivens (32). Later, while Eleanor is concerned about making a confession to MacDougal , he is at the Mission teaching immigrants (67-71). And while Mary's wedd ing to Drinkwater is underway on 17 June (182), the strike leaders are arrested (184-89), which significantly weakens the strike efforts. The opposi t ion that is set up th rough this narrative counterpoint is one of private versus public, middle versus work ing class, w o m e n versus men, and anti-strike "MacDougal sees the night's lush wing descend. He sees the future" (80); "Mary breathes deeply ... [her] hands stroking, caressing, wakening, the future. And she sees, that it is good" (81); the Canon believes, "[w]e shall see a better world. It is coming. I have faith" (108); "And Eleanor sees the future. And it is missing" (84). 7 An unlawful assembly was defined by section 87 of the Criminal Code of 1919 as '"an assembly of three or more persons who ... assemble in such a manner or so conduct themselves when assembled as to cause persons in the neighbourhood of such assembly to fear, on reasonable grounds, that the persons so assembled will disturb the peace tumultuously, or will... provoke other persons to disturb the peace tumultuously'" (qtd. in Bumsted 1994, 124). The use of force was legitimate to break up such an assembly . 206 versus pro-strike posit ions. I see two ways of reading these mult iple counterpoints. On one hand, they expose the banality of the lives of middle-class w o m e n , such as Eleanor's and Mary's, who in the face of social unrest cont inue to focus their attention on entertaining fr iends and ensuring their own wel l -being. O n the other hand, the strategy emphasizes that the mundane activities or concerns of these w o m e n are nevertheless political acts. While working-class w o m e n were redefining the political in terms of family and communi ty rather than th rough institutions (L. Kealey 1989, 136), the novel reminds us that middle-class w o m e n were compl ic i t with the polit ics of the strike through their non-involvement: The context that each voice br ings to the novel and the interrelations between each voice or section and the narrative as a whole characterize Fox as a dialogic narrative. Through this strategy, its d iscourses represent the multiplicity of voices which have often been reduced to a binary opposi t ion between middle and work ing classes in critical studies of the Strike. Sweatman explains that her reading of Bakhtin's "Discourse in the Novel" informed Fox: I chose to write a polyphonic, overtly dialogic novel because that seems to me to be the most appropr iate way to write about a small-scale civil war, the General Strike in Winnipeg in 1919, where intellectuals were jailed for 'sedi t ion ' -which is not only the use of inf lammatory language, but is the use of such language in an environment, a cultural, and economic, and therefore, political context which will hear, receive, enact that language. The Marxist language (in combinat ion with the Social Gospel , Methodist and millennial language) was dynamite just after the first war. That is d ia logism. (1993, 159) 207 Sweatman tries to make the heterogeneity of voices that part icipated in the strike visible. She exposes the dominant d iscourses of white, Anglo-Saxon, middle-class men and indicates potential sites of resistance for workers, w o m e n , and immigrants. Discourse plays a crucial role as communi t ies enact exclusion and inclusion; it becomes highly charged in a society that at tempts to censor publ ic speech and literature. Several words , which operate as the language of exclusion, are identified in the novel, for instance, "alien" (15, 116, 178, 187), "red" (21, 24, 38, 115, 187), "Bolshevik" (5, 15, 72, 124, 178), "socialist" and "revolution" (12, 177), and "sedit ion" (23, 34). As Benstock, the "Dominion Censor" w h o accuses MacDougal of selling sedit ious literature, points out to h im: " ' [ t ]hings must be in harmony, in pleasing agreement with the Dominion'" (24). With the suppor t of censorship laws, charges of sedit ious conspiracy or libel are used to muzzle publ ic cri t icism. In the later trials of the strike leaders, in particular in the case of Robert B. Russell, sedit ion was defined by Judge Metcalfe as intending "to excite discontent or dissatisfaction; to excite ill-will between different classes or the King's subjects; to create publ ic disturbances" (qtd. in Bumsted 1994, 67). Free discussion was acceptable as long as it d id not take place "under circumstances likely to incite tumult' (qtd. in Bumsted 1994, 118). Sweatman emphasizes that d iscourses are social struggles, that books are not just words on a page, as MacDougal sardonical ly tries to convince Benstock (23); in the novel the discourses of inclusion and exclusion always operate within a socio-historical context. 208 For the most part, no overt narrator seems to orchestrate or control the voices and incorporated documents in the novel. The f ragmented, paratactic narrative at tempts to remain free of hierarchies, a l though Sweatman acknowledges that these can never be avoided completely (1995a), that she cannot, for example, escape the role of writer as imperialist (1995c). At t imes, the narrator moves into the foreground, for example, th rough the foreshadowing of MacDougal 's arrest (46) and Mary's marr iage to Drinkwater (179-80), and the evaluations that inform his/her observat ions (especially as the ironic critic of Mary but also as the bemused observer of Eleanor). In these cases, the narrator funct ions as focalizer but focalization often shifts to other characters, especially to Mary and Eleanor. In these sections, the narrative quickly, and often unexpectedly, moves back and forth between psychonarrat ion, free indirect discourse, and interior mono logue . 8 To capture the uniqueness of individual characters, Sweatman often uses the vernacular and oral storytell ing when she shifts to the latter two techniques of rendering consciousness. Two of the main characters in the novel are the middle-class w o m e n Eleanor and her cousin Mary w h o live in Crescentwood, a wealthy, residential area in the south of Winnipeg. Eleanor is the first character to be introduced in the novel: 8 In Transparent Minds (1978), Cohn introduces psychonarration, free indirect discourse (narrated monologue), and interior monologue (quoted monologue) as the three basic techniques for rendering consciousness in fiction. For brief definitions of these terms, see also Prince (1987,34-35, 44-45, 78). 209 Eleanor is tall, taller than most men, and her face is long, her thin nose long as a lake-edging highway, her long face and her eyes like a lmonds, almost, a very strange long w o m a n . She likes her own eyes, actually. She says to hell with those fat and innocent faces, my bones, my d a m n cheekbones anyway, will be fine on my face when it's old.. . . She looks like a big bi rd, a hawk, a prairie falcon... . Her hands are too big, her f ingers splayed, she fl ings her hands about when she speaks. Her feet are long ... she's too awkward, she has long since outgrown herself. (1) Eleanor not only fails to meet the expectat ions of feminine beauty exemplif ied by Mary's "perfect narrow eyes blue and clear" (2) and the "young faces round as biscuits" (3), but her unusual appearance correlates with different interests as well . She would rather stay in "her dark room where she lives and listens" (2) instead of entertaining her fr iends at a t o b o g g a n party; she joins the men in the library where they retreat to smoke and enjoy "a bit of manly company" (4); she reads the papers, such as the Winnipeg Tribune, and wou ld rather learn more about "the Alien and the Bolsheviki threat" than g o out to listen to a band play in town (5). In contrast, Mary is the "perfect" w o m a n ; she is twenty-one years o ld , petite and pretty, reads Henry James, suffers f rom a "nervous disorder" (116, 63), and looks for a man who will take care of her. She is engaged to be marr ied to Drinkwater, the up-and-coming business man who emulates and seeks advice f rom Mary's father, Sir Rodney. Mary's hopes for the future are bright: "forever after life will b e a calm ocean crossed in the luxuryliner of joint fortunes and Drinkwater will carry a walkingst ick and he will place one hand in the pocket of his evening coat, just so" (73). A l though Mary is appreciated for 210 her faultless appearance, the narrator frequently exposes her innocence, ignorance, and simplicity: "Mary ... feeling every inch a slender young th ing, is performing a funct ion quite new to her. She is thinking" (61). As a w o m a n whose "lips are Nearly Rose," whose "cheeks are Tender Peach," whose "skin is Linen and Cream," and whose "eyes are Royal Blue" (26), Mary defines herse l f -as the narrator facetiously and ironically sugges ts - th rough the language and values of fashion and beauty ads. Mary is interested in contemporary social issues such as the struggles of the workers only in so far as they affect her life-style. Her main goal is to ensure her status in the class environment in which she has been raised. Through her marr iage to Drinkwater, Mary will remain safely within the boundar ies of their communi ty , which Sir Rodney has taken care of by buying a house across the street f rom his own place. Yet, her safe and comfortable life-style does not provide her with the excitement she desires; so Mary has to take matters into her own hands to create a sense of danger and temptat ion. The novel exposes her occasional t ransgressions of rules and boundar ies, which consist of sneaking out of the house without her father's permission to attend a parade with Drinkwater (162-66), premarital sex (179), and most interestingly her "B & E" (123-25). From the sketchy narrative it becomes clear that Mary frequently walks the d o g as an excuse to "visit" houses that have been deserted by their ne ighbours for summer vacat ions: her father "doesn't realize she's go ing out so late, again, tonight" (124). Anticipating her excursion, Mary "knows exactly 211 which house she'll hit tonight. The Squib-Avonhersts ' on Harvard" (124). Walking th rough the house, inspecting the owner's interior decorat ions, she is humming the Hebrew Benedict ion, which "reminds her of a christening" (124). Is Mary sanct ioning her own actions, providing her own blessing here? This scene can be read, I believe, as an example of her arrogance as well as her thought lessness. Eventually she sits down in a chair. In these brief moments of her "break and enter," Mary has suspended all social rules and laws of property. But these transgression d o not ultimately upset her place in the wor ld of the middle class; as long as she is not caught, they are only temporary t ransgressions that actually conf irm her social status because she is in control of their ou tcome and does not have to fear any repercussions. Eleanor looks and behaves di f ferent ly-therefore, she does not truly belong. She struggles to understand the situation she f inds herself in: " [w]hat is this transformation?" (13). She tries to appreciate the wor ld around her by reading articles in the papers, but she has to recognize her own limitations and • r her limited worldview: " [h]as she ever met a poor person;" "[h]er brother is dead . She hadn't had the wits to blame anybody, and it's her fault, she is so stupid!" (13). Eleanor tries to break free f rom her middle-class environment by moving out of her father's house and beginning to read: "MacDougal isn't even sarcastic with her, he doesn't seem to expect her to know anything, why should he expect anything, when he knows she runs on a short leash in this g o d d a m suffocating city" (68). MacDougal , the socialist fr iend of Eleanor's father, is her guide and 212 love interest, and seems to guarantee her entrance into working-class circles. She no longer feels a part of her father's wor ld ; " [s]he has sl ipped out of his vocabulary" (90): But whereas tapestr ies, a desk with pigeon-holes for papers thin with the necessit ies of a big business, paintings and vases above and upon a grand piano, whereas all these things once gave Eleanor a name, the secure feet-on-the-ground knowledge of herself as Eleanor, daughter of, sister of, niece of, cousin of, member o f - b u t owner of nothing, not really, it all be longs to Father. (68) Compel led by the Social Gospel , which sought to apply Christian principles to a variety of social prob lems engendered by industrial ization, 9 Eleanor tries to get involved in the workers' activities, goes to meet ings with MacDougal , and joins the food kitchen (167-69). She tries to dissociate herself f rom the communi ty she was b o m into and seeks other communi t ies in which she can define herself, which she can join by her own decis ion, seeking "revolutionary enthusiasm" (14). But she f inds it difficult to leave her familiar wor ld behind, the clothes, the luxury, the lavish furniture, the food , the manners. She is still an observer and remains passive when she should be helping 9 As McNaught explains, the Social Gospel emphasized love and proclaimed the principle of co-operation as opposed to that of competition. It also focused on the brotherhood of man and was more interested in the welfare of individuals in this world than in the salvation of immortal souls (1959, 48-49). Many of the leaders of the Social Gospel were former Methodist ministers active in the labour movement (Bumsted 1994,119). J.S. Woodsworth, for example, took over the All People's Mission in Winnipeg in 1907 (Bercuson 1990, 5); he was influenced by Rev. Salem Bland, whose The New Christianity (1920) Sweatman also lists as a source book for Fox. 213 MacDougal . Unlike Mary, Eleanor does not seek temporary t ransgressions within her own communi ty but a permanent reorientation that chal lenges the foundat ions of her life. At the end of the novel, Eleanor still lives in two wor lds at once; she may have become resistant to, but is still compl ic i t wi th, the middle class. When she goes to MacDougal 's bookstore still unaware of his arrest, we learn f rom a police officer who funct ions as focalizer that he "has been instructed to leave her alone.... She must be rich to get special attention like that. She sure looks rich" (190). In addit ion to her treatment by others, she reflects on her own part icipation in Mary's wedd ing : "MacDougal I love you and today I am being driven to Westminster Church in a baby-blue Packard. It's a conspiracy, MacDougal , but I am just a spy.... and she sees in the mirror that she is her own double agent" (185). As a result, Eleanor lives in the space in-between, in "double-t ime," to bor row Bhabha's term (1994, 145); she no longer belongs to her father's wor ld but she does not belong to the wor ld of MacDougal either. In fact, at a Labour Church meet ing she realizes that she "is happy. She doesn't belong here; she's perfectly at home, orphaned at last. Anything can happen. Now! my life is r ich. No one looks at her, or if they do , something is different. She's part of something here, they expect her to take part. Damn right, she says, d a m n right I 1 0 Consider these two parallel examples: "[a]nd only later... as she folds herself into her reading-chair, does it occur to Eleanor that she might have helped MacDougal with the boys at the Mission pool.... She might have joined MacDougal in his care of the children" (161); "Eleanor stands beside him [MacDougal].... MacDougal with the dead boy in his arms. Eleanor standing beside them, her empty arms waving, waving, waving" (197-98). 214 will" (94). 1 1 Uncomfortable with her " impossible self" (117), feeling "stricken and embarrassed and disconnected f rom herself at every juncture" (39), Eleanor is not yet able to define herself in any new terms. Her immediate goal is to lose herself, to leave herself behind (154), which gives her comfort : " [s]he opens the w indow and stands there for a long t ime, breathing, her breathing mark ing the t ime, number ing the voices, her father, and her brother, her relations falling f rom her, the voices depart ing f rom her, leaving her alone at the w indow looking out" (91). Eleanor's personal t ransformation suggests that social change can become more than a visceral experience for the w o m e n of the middle class. Her chal lenge to communi ty and class boundar ies funct ions as a crucial strategy of the novel's performative discourse that disturbs, displaces, and disrupts the homogenei ty of the pedagogica l (Bhabha 1994, 230). Language plays a crucial role in Eleanor's at tempt to become her own w o m a n . She realizes that her own perspective and her own discourse are val id: She has recently discovered (and maybe this discovery has given her f reedom) that she can indeed listen in a f ragmentary way.... And another th ing: it doesn't matter anymore that her patterns of translation differ f rom MacDougal 's or her father's. The men speak their publ ic language, and it is a marvel, their absolute sentences, and Eleanor, living under and between, always outside, has a place she can furnish accord ing to her own des ign. She has dec ided this is g o o d . (120) I read Eleanor's "patterns of translation" and their valorization as a meta-1 1 For similar sentiments, see the following examples: "[s]he has begun her reading .... she's at the number zero, she's not at home, and it's perfect, here" (91); "[s]he doesnt know them [other people], she loves not knowing" (95); "[s]he doesnt know how to cheer but she feels the tight moans of excitement in her throat" (95). 215 commentary on the alternative tell ings of history in the novel. Just as she is able to see how her perspective and. language differ f rom those of men, Fox encourages the reader to engage seriously with its f ragmentary, revisionist reading of the Winnipeg Strike as an alternative to the mascul ine histor iography that has projected an accumulat ive publ ic history. Through its restaging of events, Fox s imultaneously evokes and erases the boundar ies that have suppor ted the pedagogica l . When the novel provides g l impses into the lives of working-class w o m e n , the focus is no longer on love interests, m o o d changes, and luxuries but on material necessities such as food , rent, and a min imum wage. The reader learns about the effects of the Strike on these w o m e n and about their cop ing strategies. In anticipation of diminishing food suppl ies, w o m e n fill up wagons to stock up on food : sugar, turnips, and carrots (92-93). Moreover, on 24 May, w o m e n begin to set up a food kitchen that is initiated and maintained primarily by Helen Armst rong and the Women's Labor League. The example of the food kitchen shows how many w o m e n were on strike at the t ime but it also stresses the sense of solidarity among w o m e n . The kitchen was a service provided by w o m e n mainly for the suppor t of other w o m e n . 1 2 It provides Eleanor with an opportuni ty to become part of the women's communi ty by gett ing involved with their work (167-69). However, food is not the only problem faced by work ing-1 2 The kitchen could serve between 1,200 and 1,500 meals a day. Men could also come to the food kitchen but were expected to pay or make a small donation, recognizing thereby that women workers were paid less (Horodyski 1986, 30; Bumsted 1994, 37; L. Kealey 1989, 137-38). 216 class characters in the novel. The w o m e n on strike also f ind it difficult to pay rent without an income. The Relief Commit tee helped to fund cash donat ions and special appeals were made to help the w o m e n in need because society feared that work ing w o m e n may turn to prostitution for economic suppor t (Tranfield 1989, 34). The novel picks up on these unspoken concerns and makes them explicit in its descr ipt ion of Aileen, w h o works as a sales clerk at Eaton's and turns to prostitut ion so she can pay her rent and afford the clothes she is expected to wear at work (35-37). The novel also depicts working-class w o m e n who organize for militant purposes. The w o m e n attack two delivery t ruck drivers whose scab work undermines the struggles of the workers on strike (141-43). Again, the narrative emphasizes the sense of cpmmuni ty among w o m e n : " [o ]ne of the ideas is they stick together because they're all alike, the w o m e n , but what happens is, they're together because of their differences. It makes them quiet" (141). Moreover, a l though this section foregrounds their violent acts, it also shows how the w o m e n are perceived in the press (Horodyski 1986, 34). The statement of a detective, which was printed in the Winnipeg Tribune on 21 June, is quoted at the end of the sect ion, attesting to the dangerous and defiant nature of the striking w o m e n (143). Throughout the novel, tension bui lds between the descr ipt ions of working-class w o m e n and the sections that focus on Eleanor and Mary. Once the reader begins to relate these voices dialogically, the stories of the working-class w o m e n openly chal lenge the complacency of the middle class 217 and the stereotypes of women's roles in society. In spite of the labour turmoi l of 1919 and earlier years, gender roles were f irmly inscribed in Canadian society. Indeed, as L. Kealey points out, class and gender expectat ions were intertwined: "respectable middle class or upper class w o m e n wou ld not participate in such unseemly behaviour" (1989, 141). Moreover, w o m e n deserved special protect ion dur ing the strike. The Strike Commit tee tr ied very hard to prevent violence and reminded the strikers repeatedly to adhere to "fair play" in the struggle (Bumsted 1994, 33-34). The methods of the authorit ies were labelled ungent lemanly and secretive, and the strikers were instructed that their own behaviour should be that of "decent men" w h o "treat w o m e n by the rules of decent society, even in the midst of a bitter struggle" (Reimer 1993, 230). W o m e n w h o s tepped outside accepted gender roles wou ld lose their protect ion as w o m e n . 1 3 Fox, however, does not discipl ine these w o m e n for their t ransgressions; it highlights and re-evaluates their mil i tancy dur ing the strike in order to emphasize the solidarity among w o m e n . The novel presents their act ions as a fo rm of mutual suppor t rather than as a display of meaningless aggression. Issues of ethnicity and race further compl icated how gender and class were connected in establ ishing communi t ies and rules of conduct dur ing the 1 3 Judge Metcalfe made the position of judicial authorities very clear in the post-Strike trials: "[i]n these days when women are taking up special obligations and assuming equal privileges with men, it may be well for me to state now that women are just as liable to ill treatment in a riot as men and can claim no special protection and are entitled to no sympathy; and if they stand and resist officers of the law they are liable to be cut down" (qtd. in L. Kealey 1989, 141). 218 Strike. As Horodyski has noted, whenever possible the w o m e n involved in riot act ions were referred to as foreigners (1986, 34). That w o m e n were involved in militant action was bad enough, but by designat ing them as immigrants the prob lem could at least be contained. Similarly, the behaviour of immigrant men was often descr ibed as cowardly and furtive and was contrasted with the manly and forceful characteristics of the British men; through these compar isons, they were implicit ly depicted as feminine (Avery 1976, 219). The role of "foreigners" or "aliens," as they were variably referred to, was paramount dur ing the Winnipeg Str ike. 1 4 In his review, Scott Ellis has noted the absence of foreigners in Sweatman's novel (1991, 73). While I agree that immigrants are not given a voice in the novel, except for the young messenger boy Stevie, the novel is nevertheless infused with ethnic tensions and immigrat ion issues. Winnipeg was already geographical ly segregated in terms of class and race at the beginning of the Strike: the working-class consisted mainly of "new immigrants" (mostly Slavic and Jewish) w h o resided in the north part of town, while the primarily British middle and upper classes lived in the south and west end. Ant i- immigrat ion sentiments were st rong in the late 1910s (as the conscr ipt ion crisis, calls for disenfranchisement, and the orders-in-counci l of 1918 suggest) , and immigrants were increasingly singled out by the business 1 4 With increasing immigration in the first decade of this century, immigrants from Eastern Europe became the so-called "new immigrants" or "aliens," many of whom came from regions that were part of Germany or the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which made them "enemy aliens" when the war began (Bumsted 1994, 10, 76); 219 communi ty , especially by the Citizens' Commit tee, as the instigators of political and industrial unrest. As Benstock explains to MacDougal : '"we intend to focus that blame away f rom the Government, we choose to lay the blame elsewhere, the foreign element will d o nicely'" (24). The strikers, however, asserted that it was class not race that really mattered in their f ight. Indeed, the Western Labour News charged the capitalists as the "real aliens" w h o served only themselves and not the communi ty (Reimer 1993, 232; Avery 1976, 217). The returned soldiers further compl icated this situation because most of them were hostile to immigrants. As the headlines in Fox show, newspapers such as the Winnipeg Tribune used the opposi t ion of soldier versus "alien" in their rhetoric (116, 126), and anti- labour loyalist veterans used it on their strike banners (165). That the category of the "enemy alien" was a convenient and flexible construct is shown in Sweatman's section on the forty-minute legislation of 6 June, which amended sect ion 41 of the Immigrat ion Act to al low for the deportat ion of British subjects under the condi t ions of undesirabil i ty (170-72). Canadian citizens were defined '"either by reason of birth in Canada, or by reason of naturalization in Canada'" (qtd. in Bumsted 1994, 48). This descr ipt ion appl ied to almost all British immigrants because few t roubled to become naturalized in Canada. In other words , all of these interconnected references to class, ethnicity, and gender in Fox chal lenge the definition of "Canadian" as dependent upon the construct ion of an "other" that must be exc luded; this exclusion is not only directed at strikers, and somet imes at unruly w o m e n , but 220 was also predicated on the f igure of the "alien." Stevie Macovitch, the young messenger boy, is the only immigrant character given a voice in Fox. He seems to appear everywhere, benefit ing f rom the services he can render for people dur ing the Strike. MacDougal takes particular interest in him after he learns that Stevie's mother is sick and cannot c o m e to work (48-49). In the novel, it is Stevie w h o is killed in the riots of "Bloody Saturday": " [h]e sees MacDougal waving to h im, he goes to him... . Stevie, in the middle of the road, eager to receive a message f rom his fr iend this so-serious MacDougal . The bullet, the hot shell, in the boy's face, it shoots off the face, he falls" (197). By making the dying "alien" a young boy, the novel highlights the vulnerabil ity of the immigrants dur ing the Strike. While the "other" is literally killed at the end of the novel, the boy's innocence exposes the senselessness and injustice of this construct ion of the "other" and of the violence directed against h im. The sense of futility at the end of Fox seems to foreshadow the "profound dissolut ion within the working-class experience" that fo l lowed the Strike in Winnipeg (B.D. Palmer 1983, 177). Sweatman's interest in the interconnections between quest ions of gender, ethnicity, and class in her rewriting of the Strike have not saved her, however, f rom crit icism concerning the absence or silence of working-class and immigrant characters in the novel (Sweatman 1995a). What readers learn about the working-class w o m e n , they perceive f rom the outside looking in, but the novel does not provide a working-class character w h o funct ions as a focalizer to the 221 same extent that Eleanor and Mary do . As Sweatman has explained, reciprocity of the gaze is important to achieve respectful representation (1995b). Worr ied that her own posit ioning wou ld lead to sentimentalizing or patronizing treatment of working-class characters, she dec ided to evoke their presence through ell ipses and gaps, th rough the dialogic relations actualized in the novels' col lage (1995a). The difficult quest ion of representation is approached f rom a slightly different angle in the final "List of Illustrations" (199-200). This list comes as a surprise to the reader because there are no photos in Fox, and not all of the photos descr ibed in this final section are even connected with the Winnipeg Strike. As referential art, photos are often considered to testify to the "real" existence of what they show. By narrating the photographic images, Sweatman, however, chal lenges the notion of their referentiality and stasis. Because narration depends on a speaker and progresses in t ime, the photos turned narratives are exposed as subjective, dynamic construct ions. Any objecti fying gaze that the observer may direct at the photos is chal lenged by the narrative. Sweatman's strategy resembles the techniques she employs throughout the novel to resituate and rewrite the events of the Strike. Defying the objecti fying gaze of the mascul ine histor iography that wrote w o m e n out of the Strike, Fox returns the gaze by inscribing a multiplicity of voices to tell their stories. These voices are not s imply added to the nationalist pedagogy though ; they constantly have to be renegotiated in dialogic relations. As a result, Fox 222 performs interventions, not containment. The polyvalency of voices and their relations is reminiscent of the "fox" in the novel's title. Only one character, Drinkwater, actually sees the fox (53); however, both Drinkwater and Mary show fox-like appearances and behaviour: Drinkwater has a "fox-blond" b o d y (40) and Mary "stops like a fox, g leaming and red" (2). The associat ion of the fox with a sexually attractive w o m a n appl ies to both Mary and Aileen (36). The fox is cunning and sly (Sir Rodney is referred to as an "old fox" ), out for his/her own best interest, unlikely to get caught. That the novel seems to privilege the telling of stories f rom an advantaged view could itself be read as "foxy," as Daniel Fischlin has suggested, because that perspective is "given to d issembl ing and self-deception, and therefore a useful marker of the novel's exposit ion of the 'advantaged' as an inverted ethical signifier" (1995, 62). The title may thus be a commentary on the subversive gesture of the novel itself. Through occasional (foxy) sight ings and repeated performances, the novel can dislocate the homogeneous narrative of the pedagogical . Sweatman dissolves the seamless histor iographic narrative of the Winnipeg Strike in Fox, giving up the panopt icon of an omniscient narrator (Fischlin 1995, 59). She incorporates voices of shifting contexts, publ ic and private voices, family and communi ty voices, creating a col lage of distinct sect ions. Only by placing the numerous sections in dialogic relation with each other, by performing the text so to speak, can the reader make sense of the multiplicity of voices. Sweatman has commented on the problemat ics of the 223 performative, explaining that to keep the reader interested, the novel needs to balance old structures against fresh transgressions (1993, 161). These transgressions are not formalist projects but rewrite the ending of the historical record. The novel interrupts the pre-given, monumenta l narrative of the pedagogica l by chal lenging its causality and mono log ism. In an open-ended, at t imes even careless way (Sweatman 1995b), the performative intervenes in the gaps, in the reaccentuations of incorporated genres, and speaks f rom in-between t imes and places. Its difficulty will seem impolite only to those w h o prefer to homogenize experiences, not to those w h o desire to articulate resistance and a politics of t ransformat ion. 224 Chapter Seven Writing into the Page ahead1 There is neither a first nor a last word and there are no limits to the dialogic context (it extends into the boundless past and the boundless future). Mikhail Bakhtin (1986, 170) The novels I have discussed in the preceding chapters suggest that culture is not necessari ly an homogeneous construct ion. They recognize, in Bennett's words , "that there is a collection of cultures within the idea of English Canada, not so much a mosaic as a kale idoscope, an arrangement of f ragments whose interrelationships, while ever changing, nevertheless s e r v e - b y virtue of their container, we might s a y - n o t only to influence what we see when we look th rough the glass, but also to affect the placement of the other elements in the array" (1993/94, 196-97). The dialogic relations between voices in these texts neither inscribe Utopian negations of the dominant discourse nor d o they seek a simple resolution by privileging one discourse of resistance. Difference is their point of departure and their cont inuing impetus for communicat ion and struggle. 1 The title echoes Marlatt's last lines in Ana Historic: ... the luxury of being has woken you, the reach of your desire, reading us into the page ahead, (n.p.) 225 The heterogeneity that contemporary novels make visible is not a happy ra inbow coalit ion. By rejecting the notion of d ia logism as a normative liberal plural ism, the nove ls -and their r e a d e r s - d o not have to presume equality between voices; instead, they can acknowledge that inequality is historically and socially constructed (San Juan 1992, 140). I disagree with the neo-conservative argument that the less we say about inequalit ies and injustice, the less frequently they will occur and the less likely they are to provoke a backlash f rom the majority. On the contrary, I believe that we need to learn as much as we can about forms of oppress ion in the past and the present, f rom racism and sexism, to homophob ia , forced relocations, and genoc ide . 2 Contemporary novels can contr ibute to this process of educat ion if we understand literature as a discourse that interrogates our ways of knowing (Turner 1995, 15). Lecker's quest ion serves as a useful reminder here: " [h ]ow often d o we step back and talk about ... how Canadian literature is part of the wor ld in which we live?" (1995, 21). If we begin to see literature and social context as inextricably connected, then we can look to literature not only for the construct ions of communi t ies it inscribes but also for the specif ic devices and strategies it uses to express and revise them. The cultural-narratological approach I have proposed seeks to examine, mediate, and crit ique cultural representations, both aesthetically and politically (Thornton 1994, 90). 2 For critiques of the neo-conservative argument, see, for example, John Brenkman (1993, 89), Alan Cairns (1995, 25, 30), Henry and Tator (1994, 12-13), and Veronica Strong-Boag (1994, 6). 226 My exclusive focus on Canadian literature undoubtedly raises the quest ion of nationalism. If Davey (1993) is right in his assessment that we already live in a post-nationalist state, then the focus on Canadian literature becomes outdated and irrelevant. But I disagree with Davey's argument ; instead I believe that many contemporary novels, including the ones d iscussed here, at tempt to re-imagine Canadian communi t ies in a construct ive way (Grace 1995, 12, 16). What we f ind, when we leave a nineteenth-century European not ion of nation behind, is that these novels chal lenge a homogeneous and universalist understanding of Canada by exposing dominant construct ions and interpellating si lenced voices, opposi t ional or alternative posit ions. If, as Mukherjee suggests, we reject the idea that Canadian literature needs to fol low "a" Canadian tradit ion, def ined in Eurocentric terms, we can develop "a new nationalism, a nationalism whose grounding premise will be Canada's heterogeneity" (1995b, 441), a nationalism that can be "an effective, mult i faceted strategy for decolonizat ion" (Kelly q td . in Fee 1995, 689). The analysis of resistance literature contr ibutes to the chal lenge to the familiar, dominant discourse, which continually "intensifies itself, maintaining in effect a closure" (Itwaru 1994, 2). The direction of a literary crit icism that explores Canadian culture, including Canadian literature, as sites of struggle rather than as homogeneous entities will give a new impetus to the Canadian cultural history Allan Smith has descr ibed (1991,. 10-11). In this dissertation, I have at tempted to f ind a way of reading the selected novels critically, without s imply sanctifying or sacralizing their d iscourses of 227 resistance and thereby closing them off f rom crit ique (Schueller 1994, 10; C h o w 1993, 54). It wou ld be too simplist ic to suggest that polyphonic novels s imply inscribe everything that d isadvantaged voices are looking for. It is necessary to show the complexi ty of these particular novels, and of counter-hegemonic d iscourses in general , by exposing how discourses are always internally mult i-layered and often ambivalent. In my discussions of Kogawa's humanist posit ion, van Herk's essentializing of the feminine north, and Marlatt's strategic mono log ism, I have been suspicious of the moment when strategic posit ions solidify into posit ions of permanent complic i ty, when they ultimately affirm the hegemony they seem to de-privi lege. I believe that critical readings are necessary because I am concerned that an indiscriminate and a priori valorization of resistance discourses and polyphonic narratives wou ld otherwise skew the picture: "[i]f we treat only some of the routes to au tonomy as legitimate, if we make marginali ty and resistance our only measures of authenticity, then we limit the quest ions we can ask and predetermine the answers we will receive" (Bennett 1993/94, 196). We need a self-conscious crit icism that can help us understand contemporary inequalit ies in order to combat them, a crit icism that explores the ideological signif ication of narrative structures in contextual studies. The extent to which I consider cultural contexts in my readings differs f rom chapter to chapter and even within chapters. I believe it wou ld be counter-product ive to prescribe what constitutes the "right" amount of contextualization. 228 Rey Chow has warned us of the danger of supply ing contexts for literary texts too readily: The hasty supply of original "contexts" and "specificities" easily becomes compl ic i tous with the dominant d iscourse, which achieves hegemony precisely by its capacity to convert, recode, make transparent, and thus represent even those experiences that resist it with a s tubborn opacity. (1993, 38 ) 3 I have been aware of the problemat ics of my colonizing the selected novels and their d iscourses of resistance by using Bakhtinian and narratological theories for my critical f ramework. In the process of wri t ing, I have at tempted to look over my own shoulder, so to speak, to detect such gestures of colonization and containment, but I cannot completely free myself of a certain degree of complic i ty. Moreover, regardless of my sympathy for resistance discourses, I realize that my attempt to explore these counter-hegemonic voices is always different f rom their own struggle, no matter how much I may feel tempted to gloss over that dist inction. The narratives of resistance which I have discussed often resisted the writ ing of my analyses. This experience was particularly frustrating with Sky Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe, Thomas King's Green Grass, Running Water and Margaret Sweatman's Fox. The tradit ional linear format of a dissertation seems at t imes to contravene the strategies employed in these novels. Whenever I was trying to focus on a particular voice, strategy, or element in these narratives, I 3 For a similar argument, see Cheung who reminds critics "not to drown Asian American texts in contexts, lest we perpetrate what Henry Louis Gates, Jr., calls the 'anthropological fallacy1" (1993, 14). 229 felt that the novels were sl ipping away because I could not capture the simultaneous interrelations between these elements and all the other pieces of the narrative. Paradoxically, this problem suppor ts my claim that these narratives are consti tuted by dialogic relationships that "exist among all e lements of novelistic structure; that is, they are juxtaposed contrapuntal ly" (Bakhtin 1984a, 40). As I began writ ing this dissertation, I was still in the process of decid ing which novels to include in my discussion. At this point, I wou ld like to ment ion at least some of the texts I considered as alternative choices for each chapter. The chapter on Joy Kogawa and Sky Lee could have been expanded, for instance, by a discussion of Wayson Choy's The Jade Peony (1995). This novel consists of three parts, each narrated and focalized by another child of a Chinese family that has immigrated to Canada and settled in Vancouver's Chinatown dur ing the 1930s. Its multiple perspectives are determined largely by the age and gender of each child and provide interesting refractions of each others' narratives. Hiromi Goto's Chorus of Mushrooms (1994) explores the dialogic relations and struggles between three generat ions of Japanese Canadian w o m e n and wou ld be interesting in compar ison with Kogawa's Obasan. My discussion of Obasan could also have been fol lowed by a reading of its sequel Itsuka (1992), in which Naomi becomes involved in the Japanese Canadian redress movement and which ends on Settlement Day, 22 September 1983. For a more complete look at Kogawa's wri t ings, I wou ld have liked to counterpoint these two novels with 230 her latest one, The Rain Ascends (1995b), in which the narrator Millicent learns that her father abused young boys dur ing the years he worked as a minister. I suspect that the narrative structures of these novels, which show less internal dialogizat ion of the narrators' perspectives and little or no use of incorporated genres, further suppor t Kogawa's humanist belief in the value of truth and posit ivism and her interest in "spiritual quest ions," especially about the existence of evil (Kogawa 1995a, 27), At an early stage, I considered concentrat ing on rewrit ings of northern narratives in Chapter Four, in which case I wou ld have liked to read van Herk's Places Far From Ellesmere wi th, or against, Mordecai Richler's Solomon Gursky Was Here (1989) and Elizabeth Hay's The Only Snow in Havana (1992). Hay's text could have been connected with van Herk's geograf ict ione by focusing on their interrelation of multiple chronotopes, th rough which the narrators search for a displaced home, and their chal lenges to tradit ional generic boundar ies of the novel. Hay's narrator explores alternative narratives to the mascul ine histories of the north, literally and metaphorical ly quest ioning its monol i thic whiteness and meditat ing upon the connect ion between snow and fur. My reading of Richler's novel wou ld have focused on its rewriting of Canadian history f rom a Jewish Canadian perspective and its chal lenge to the fact/fiction opposi t ion th rough its montage of documentary and fictional elements. Until the chapter began burst ing at the seams, the discussion of van Herk's Places Far From Ellesmere and Marlatt's Ana Historic also included Brian Fawcett's Gender Wars (1994). 231 Fawcett's multiple narratives and commentar ies, as well as his intr iguing typographical choices, invite a critical reading that explores whether these strategies really create dialogic relationships. I considered several novels to broaden my analysis of the performative in Slash and Green Grass, Running Water. King's Medicine River (1989) raises interesting quest ions about the relations between its eighteen individual chapters which may be read as a short-story cycle rather than a novel. The stories of Ruby Slipperjack's Silent Words (1992) and Lee Maracle's Sun Dogs (1992b) are presented by homodieget ic narrators whose perspectives are internally dialogized, for example, th rough storytell ing. Beatrice Culleton's In Search of April Raintree (1983) presents a fascinating counterpoint of the two voices of Cheryl and Apri l , w h o respond in opposi te ways to the choice between assimilation and obl ivion. Novels with multiple perspectives have been of particular interest to me dur ing this project. For example, it is worth querying whether multiple voices necessari ly guarantee dialogic interaction. Margaret Atwood's Life Before Man (1979), focalized by Elizabeth, Nate and Lesje, and Carole Corbeil 's Voice Over (1992), which uses three local izers, Odette and her daughters Janine and Claudine, invite this kind of examinat ion. While Atwood's novel also shows internal dialogization of the three individual perspectives, which emphasizes their interconnectedness, the interrelating of the multiple perspectives in Voice Over seems more superficial. However, the novel creates increasing tension between 232 the isolation of the three different perspectives and the strong family bonds between mother and daughters it endorses. At the same t ime, Corbeil 's novel traces Claudine's search for a voice of her own to replace the voice-over of the patriarchal and mono-l ingual and mono-cultural enviroments in which she lives. Two writers in particular, w h o m I regret to have left unconsidered in this dissertat ion, seem interested in mult iple perspectives and col lage effects to actualize dialogic relations in thei r novels: Carol Shields and Michael Ondaat je. Shields, I would argue, moves towards a more complex and interrelated form of multiple perspectives in her later f ict ion. While she s imply opposes two perspectives in Happenstance (1980/82), she interrelates four perspectives in Swann (1987) which she eventually br ings together and restages in the film script of "The Swann Sympos ium." The Stone Diaries (1993) is not only about the life of the main character, Daisy Goodwi l l , but also about her explorat ion of how to tell the story of her own life. She frequently switches f rom homodieget ic to heterodiegetic narration, cast ing herself variously as subject and object of her own story and including perspectives of other family members and fr iends. Through the complex interrelations between these multiple perspect ives, the novel, and Daisy, at tempt to mirror the web of personal relations that have const i tuted her life. In Coming Through Slaughter (1976) and In the Skin of a Lion (1987), Ondaat je resorts to an even wider range of devices in order to create dialogic tension between voices. The multiplicity of voices in Coming Through Slaughter 233 is appropriately reminiscent of jazz music, because the novel tells and retells Buddy Bolden's life history, creating contradict ions between divergent perspectives. Through a multiplicity of counterpointed voices, In the Skin of a Lion similarly chal lenges how we read history and f ict ion. The novel seems to suggest th rough its narrative techniques that especially those on the m a r g i n s -such as immigrants, workers, and w o m e n - h a v e the power to chal lenge and change the perspective of the hegemonic centre. The transgression of generic boundar ies in Ondaatje's f i c t ion-are we deal ing with novels, b iographies, or history?~emphasizes the role of the reader as the texts undermine their status as fixed products and rely on the reader to engage in the process of construct ing meanings. The f ramework of d ia logism and cultural narratology could also be used for a diachronic examinat ion of Canadian fiction to explore whether it is accurate to say that "the more contemporary the text, the greater the degree of d ia logism" (Grace 1987, 123) or whether Bakhtin's theories, based on the concept of otherness, are generally well-suited for the study of Canadian literature. Cavell's work on James De Mille's The Dodge Club (1987) and Robin Howells's reading of Frances Brooke's The History of Emily Montague (1993) can serve as useful start ing-points. A broadened corpus should then also include monolog ic texts that at tempt to suppress the dialogic principle and thus the potential for d iscourses of resistance. Because all texts are marked by relations of power, hegemony, and resistance, we need to quest ion "the format ion of normal ized, 234 universalized, subjectivity by exposing the raced, sexed, and gendered construct ions of all subjects" (Schueller 1994, 11). In other words , to exclude monolog ic texts f rom thetheor iza t ion of d ia logism posit ions these texts as if they were unif ied, thereby enshrining the myth of a Canadian uniculture. 4 But why restrict the discussion of d ia logism to novels? Bakhtin has been criticized repeatedly for his "peculiar pronovelist ic generic chauvinism" (Parks 1991, 56), and I myself believe that d ia logism may be a product ive critical tool in reading other genres, such as poetry and d r a m a . 5 While some specif ic aspects of the cultural-narratological f ramework wou ld be irrelevant, I think the central idea of contextualized readings that recognize forms as ideological ly charged could be helpful. For Bakhtin, both poetry and d rama are monolog ic fo rms that lack the qualities of "novelness": The language of the novel is structured in uninterrupted dialogic interaction with the languages that surround it.... But poetry, striving for maximal purity, works in its own language, as if that language were unitary, the only language, as if there were no heteroglossia outside it. (1981, 399) The poet, accord ing to Bakhtin, aspires to speak in a language free f rom dialogization over which s/he has full control . This is not to deny that poets and readers are aware of the heteroglot wor ld around them, but that heteroglossia is 4 Obviously, the framework of dialogism and cultural narratology could also be used in readings of other national literatures. I am particularly interested in contemporary German novels to examine whether they expose and challenge Germany's discourses of internal colonialism toward the former East Germany and toward immigrant populations. 5 Similar suggestions have been made by Grace (1987), Harvie and Knowles (1994), Helene Keyssar (1991), Jennifer Wise (1989), and David H. Richter (1990). 235 suspended "by convent ion" (Bakhtin 1981, 285). Even the discourse of doubts must be presented in a language that will not be doubted in poetry (286). But the incorporat ion of heteroglossia, the internal d ia logism of one perspective, the messiness of daily life, and the cont ingencies of history, as they have been incorporated into some contemporary Canadian poetry, suggest that an explorat ion of dialogic relations may be fruitful in texts such as Margaret Atwood's The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970), Daphne Marlatt's Steveston (1974), and Marlene Nourbese Philip's She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks (1989). Similarly, Bakhtin argues that " [p]ure d rama [classical fo rms of drama] strives toward a unitary language, one that is individualized merely through dramat ic personae who, speak it. Dramatic dialogue is determined by a coll ision between individuals w h o exist within the limits of a single wor ld and a single unitary language " (1981, 405). He recognizes, however, that contemporary realistic social d rama may indeed be heteroglot (405). While Bakhtin believes that d rama is inherent ly-al ien to genuine polyphony" because it is "almost always constructed out of represented, objectif ied discourses" (1984a, 34, 188), he emphasizes repeatedly that a mono logue is not necessari ly monologic . Bakhtin's views on d rama were obviously based on specif ic k inds of d rama. It could be argued of course, as Harvie and Knowles have done, that contemporary Canadian d r a m a has become "novelized" so that quest ions previously relevant to novelistic d iscourse are now relevant to d rama as well 236 (1994, 157) . 6 Many contemporary Canadian plays focus on dialogic monologues, that is, plays in which one actor performs mult iple roles (these performances remain predominant ly monologic) , several actors play one character (a strategy that is potentially dialogic but often neutralized), or mono logues "in which a single character engages in a dialogical account ing for a 'life' that is in some sense represented autobiographical ly" (141). Features of novelization are visible, for instance, in Gui l lermo Verdecchia's Fronteras Americanas (American Borders) (1993), Monique Mojica's Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots (1991), Sharon Pollock's Getting It Straight (1992) and Blood Relations (1981), and Wendy UN's The Occupation of Heather Rose (1987). The single consciousness of the character is shown as a mosaic of many confl ict ing voices that may show a development or resolution of his/her life. The disrupt ion of authoritarian d iscourses-pat r iarchal , ethnocentr ic etc.~is enacted through structural means, a blending of performance styles, exaggerat ion, inversion, and often transformations. Dialogism may also provide a particularly useful focus for studies of cross-generic texts such as Marlatt's Salvage (1991b), which combines poetry, f ict ion, and autobiography in five large sections. In each section Marlatt rereads and rewrites some of her earlier wri t ings in light of her own feminist reading of 6 Bakhtin describes the features of novelization of other genres as follows: "[t]hey become more free and flexible, their language renews itself by incorporating extraliterary heteroglossia and the 'novelistic' layers of literary language, they become dialogized, permeated with laughter, irony, humor, elements of self-parody and finally—this is the most important thing-the novel inserts into these other genres an indeterminacy, a certain semantic openendedness, a living contact with unfinished, still-evolving contemporary reality (the openended present)" (1981, 7). 237 / the late 1980s, as she explains in the Foreword. She salvages not only what she considers her own "failed" poems but also the dominant d iscourses of gender, class, and sexual orientation by subvert ing their monolog ic claims and reshaping them to inscribe her own posit ions of difference. Another example is Linda Griffiths's and Maria Campbel l 's The Book of Jessica: A Theatrical Transformation (1989), which endlessly repeats, as Joanne Tompk ins points out, the rehearsal p ro ce d u re that characterized the initial product ion of the play Jessica at 25th Street House in Saskatoon as well as the transformations of the text and the relationship between the two w o m e n (1995, 149). The hybrid form of the text is the result of its three separate sect ions: "Spiritual Things" is Griffiths's retrospective narrative of events that led to the play and the book, f raming numerous extracts f rom dialogues between the two w o m e n ; "The Red Cloth" presents the transcript of conversat ions between Griffiths and Campbel l in 1988, carefully edited with capt ions and ell ipses nevertheless; and Jessica is the script of the actual play. In the presentation of the three sections, chronology is d isplaced and with it the not ion of .linear causality that could explain why or how th ings happened the way they d id . Only if readers are will ing to renegotiate and rehearse the relations among the different systems of signif ication presented in the text can they arrive at prel iminary scripts of their own, al though they will always ask for yet another post-script. A focus on dialogic relations in The Book of Jessica also allows the reader to explore Griffiths's own narrative authority and the extent to which her assertion of control suppor ts the hierarchies of d iscourse 238 and race which the project and the book presumably seek to undermine. In the f ramework p roposed in this dissertat ion, I have combined the concept of d ia logism and cultural narratology to read for ideological signif ication in narrative structures. This form of culturally oriented literary crit icism rests on the belief that work ing for social justice and commi tment to critical theory, even variants informed by poststructural ism, are not necessari ly at o d d s with each other (Gunew 1993, 1). An analysis of dialogic relations in novels, I have argued, can expose the sites for interventions that novels seek out, the gaps in what used to appear like seamless construct ions of Canada, its culture and literature. In these sites, the texts inscribe si lenced voices, al low their characters to claim identif ication with their environment, expose false choices, and rewrite monolog ic history through an emphasis on f ragmentat ion, the montage of documents , the chal lenge to generic boundaries, the reconsiderat ion of the role of communi t ies, and the foregrounding of the performative. By explor ing these subversive strategies, critics can affirm the possibil it ies of intervention which contr ibute to alternative construct ions. Have I answered Bal's haunting quest ion "what's the point?" in this dissertation? I believe I have, but the very thought makes me uneasy. I am reminded of Gwendolyn MaeEwen's poem "The Discovery," which ends with the fol lowing lines: "I ,mean the moment when it seems most plain / is the moment when you must begin again" (1989, 163). Maybe it is t ime to return to the quest ions that have led to and shaped this project. Maybe it is t ime to take 239 seriously what Wilson Harris has called "complex rehearsal" in the context of counter-discourse, a process in which I continually need to "consume" my own biases at the same t ime as I am trying to expose the dominant d iscourse (1985, 127). I need to re-cite and re-site this project, so that my own discourse remains dynamic and the endlessly deferred product becomes secondary. 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UBC Theses and Dissertations
Dialogism, cultural narratolgy, and contemporary Canadian novels in English Helms, Gabriele
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