UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Martha Ostenso's novels : a study of three dominant themes Jones, Alexander Henry 1970

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Notice for Google Chrome users:
If you are having trouble viewing or searching the PDF with Google Chrome, please download it here instead.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-UBC_1971_A8 J65.pdf [ 4.63MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0102000.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0102000-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0102000-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0102000-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0102000-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0102000-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0102000-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0102000-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0102000.ris

Full Text

MARTHA OSTENSO'S NOVELS A Study of Three Dominant Themes by ALEXANDER HENRY JONES B.Ed., Un i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1964 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in the Department of English We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA December, 197 0 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y . I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f F.ngl i.ah The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l umbia V a n c o u v e r 8, Canada D a t e Decembers 197 0 ABSTRACT This thesis i s an examination of a group of central themes which run through Martha Ostenso's novels; i t focuses upon three major problems in human r e l a t i o n s h i p , observed within the context of her f i c t i o n a l f a m i l i e s . Ostenso's characters are usually seen as victims of t y r a n n i c a l forces that exert destructive pressure upon normal family l i f e . The examples of domestic dissension in the novels are generally f a m i l i a r , c o n s i s t i n g as they do of problems a r i s i n g from in c o m p a t i b i l i t y , narrow dogmatism, and r e s e n t f u l i s o l a -t i o n , caused by a suppressed fear of r e t r i b u t i o n , in one form or another. Even though the greater part of her work involves a g r i c u l t u r a l communities of North America, there i s a d i s t i n c t u n i v e r s a l i t y about her novels that recommends her as a s u i t a b l e subject for serious research. In the Introduction, I have outlined the thematic concerns of t h i s study. In doing so, I have suggested that e f f e c t i v e evaluation of an a r t i s t , such as Martha Ostenso, can occur only following an examination of the t o t a l output of work. Ostenso's canon contains material for numerous s p e c i a l i z e d studies; however, i t was decided to concentrate upon t r a c i n g three character-i s t i c elements, which owe t h e i r o r i g i n to her f i r s t novel, Wild Geese. This novel i s used as a base in order to i l l u s t r a t e Ostenso's apparent determina-t i o n to e x p l o i t c e r t a i n of i t s more successful aspects. Chapter Two is a discussion of the problems a r i s i n g between members of her f i c t i o n a l f a m i l i e s . The pattern of abrasive r e l a t i o n s h i p s between parents and children i s followed from her f i r s t novel to her l a s t . There i s d i s c e r n i b l e evidence that Ostenso's treatment of t h i s subject reveals a growing sense of psychological i n s i g h t . S i m i l a r l y , other kinds of family s t r i f e receive an increasingly s e n s i t i v e handling, i n d i c a t i v e of her apparent desire to c a p i t a l i z e upon an expanding awareness of human tensions. Chapter Three, i n continuing the discussion of Ostenso's central themes, traces the del i n e a t i o n of the authority f i g u r e , from the elemental, c a r i c a t u r e - l i k e Caleb Gare to the wholly credible figure of Luke Darr. It is concluded that Ostenso's ultimate goal i s the regeneration of such in d i v i d u a l s who place themselves outside the pale of human sympathy. Chapter Four examines the s p i r i t u a l desolation and s e l f - t o r t u r e seen as one of the more common condi-tions of the human predicament in Ostenso's novels. This aspect of her work reveals the least evidence of development. On occasion i t becomes awkwardly i n c r e d i b l e . The study concludes with an examination of Ostenso's impact upon l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m in North America. I t i s clear that she i s overshadowed by many of the contemporary p r a c t i t i o n e r s of "realism" in America; however, i n terms of Canadian f i c t i o n she has made a contribution that w i l l rank always as a major landmark on our journey to a mature l i t e r a t u r e . i i i CONTENTS Page I. INTRODUCTION 1 I I . PATTERNS OF COMPATIBILITY 11 II I . THE PURITAN'S PROGRESS 30 IV. THE PLOT PHANTASM 53 V. ' CONCLUSION 77 BIBLIOGRAPHY 88 Chapter One Introduction This study, of the novels of Martha Ostenso, i s an attempt to explore three s a l i e n t features, c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of her a r t . I t becomes apparent that her concern is with human r e l a t i o n s h i p s , when viewed within the context of the family. The intention i s to show that a pre-occupation with the subject begins with her f i r s t novel and dominates her subsequent work. In that f i r s t novel, Wild Geese,^ she examines several sources of family tension, including i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y , r e l i g i o u s tyranny, and i s o l a t i o n r e s u l t i n g from a numbing sense of dread. As a r e s u l t of a discussion of these d i s t i n c t i v e features of her novels, i t i s hoped that a better understanding of Martha Ostenso's aesthetic w i l l be possible. Appreciation of most forms of art i s dependent upon a recognition of pattern, and the knowledge that pattern is i d i o s y n c r a t i c i s a further aid to comprehension. It i s through the manipulation of c h a r a c t e r i s t i c e f f e c t s that the a r t i s t achieves a personal statement of balance and harmony. So i t must be assumed that a conscious determination to assert his i n d i v i d u a l i t y develops from an i n t e l l e c t u a l recognition of what Susanne Langer means when she says that "thinking begins with seeing; not ne c e s s a r i l y through the eye, but with 2 some basic formulations of sense percept ion .1" What the a r t i s t feels w i l l be conveyed i n h i s work in varying degrees of i n t e n s i t y , emphasizing the fact that Martha Ostenso, Wild Geese, (New York, 1925). 2 Susanne Langer, Philosophy in a New Key, (New York, 1942),224. certain s t y l i s t i c features result from the conscious employment of character-i s t i c patterns. Thus, i t could be said that the ar t i s t is showing dependence upon a formula, when he makes use of a certain cluster of characteristics to clothe his inspiration in a concrete reality. An a r t i s t is often quite dependent upon receiving a continuing assessment of- the effect he is creating. Art does not flourish in a vacuum, and i t is reasonable to assume that the sensitive artist exercises an awareness of his own distinctive style, remaining conscious of the necessity to perpetuate its fundamental features, while at the same time experimenting within i t . This requires an intuitive recognition, by the a r t i s t , of the infinitude of possibil-i t i e s residing in the deployment of familiar factors within a novel framework. In the visual arts this is often quite apparent, especially in the work of highly competent artists where there is an effective repetition of aspects which are idiosyncratically distinctive. It is as though the formula establish-ed by the a r t i s t , confident in the truth of his own vision., is a currency supported by more than adequate reserves of wealth. It serves to generate a relationship mutually satisfactory for the ar t i s t and his audience, and permits a ready association of the artist's formula with patterns of human experience. The ar t i s t who remains sensitive to the plight of human existence tends to embody in his work an intuitive apprehension of formal relationships. He recognizes that human existence is organized in patterns and tries to involve his audience in an active participation in the conception of the design. In this study of Martha Ostenso's fifteen novels, i t is hoped to demonstrate that the author is keenly aware of certain patterns of human behaviour and realizes, that the significance of a piece of work lies in its formal organization. She would agree with Herbert Read that a "work of art . . . is a logical structure corresponding to the pattern of sentience." In considering a work of art i n terms of form and pattern, i t i s c e r t a i n l y not inappropriate to take note of Aaron Berkman's remarks concerning the d i f f i c u l t i e s experienced in d i s t i n g u i s h i n g coherent factors when confronted by a highly complex work of a r t . It i s hard, he says, "to i s o l a t e any one element . . . from the other elements, for they are a l l interlocked into a unity".^ In s p i t e of that d i f f i c u l t y , he explains that, "as one may select one theme in a Bach fugue and delight in i t s study", i t is possible to se l e c t a single element at a time and "unravel i t from the i n t r i c a c i e s " of an involved composition. What must be understood from his analogy is that, in discussing the work of an a r t i s t such as Martha Ostenso, i t i s well to remember that embodied in the work one is l i k e l y to discover a number of contrapuntal devices or themes to which the a r t i s t returns p e r i o d i c a l l y . Because of the a r t i s t ' s pre-occupation with a p a r t i c u l a r c l u s t e r of themes, i t becomes necessary to take "one theme at a time . . . and delight in i t s study" before proceeding to a consideration of the next. The presence of a number of contrapuntal elements in her work makes i t imperative that the study be l i m i t e d , and for that reason c e r t a i n s e l e c t i o n c r i t e r i a are being employed for the sake of balance and harmony. Human behaviour c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , as discerned in Martha Ostenso's novels, could lead the i n v e s t i g a t i o n into a v a r i e t y of s p e c i a l i z e d areas. For example, her in t e r e s t i n adolescence provides ample material for an engrossing topic involving r e b e l l i o n , f r u s t r a t i o n , and sexual experience. The incidence of spinsters, too, merits a study of i t s own. S i g n i f i c a n t l y , Wild Geese has already attracted the attention of scholars Herbert Read, "Susanne Langer", The Tenth Muse: essays i n c r i t i c i s m , (New York, 1958), 247 ''Aaron Berkman, The Functional Line in Painting, (New York, 1957),74 researching the adolescent and the spinster in American f i c t i o n . In addition, ten of her novels are connected with farm l i f e , q u a l i f y i n g through that reason for s p e c i a l i z e d attention.^ These examples represent just a few of the possible themes and t e s t i f y to the necessity for placing l i m i t a t i o n s upon the scope of the study. Thus, i t has been decided to concentrate upon three elements of human r e l a t i o n s h i p , dominant in Martha Ostenso's f i r s t novel and which can be detected, as contrapuntal e n t i t i e s , throughout the rest of her work. Ostenso's devotion to aspects of her o r i g i n a l pattern indicates that she made a determined analysis of her f i r s t work in order to i s o l a t e , and develop, those features which bear her own i n d i v i d u a l stamp. It appears that she r e l i e d upon an i n s t i n c t i v e talent i n w r i t i n g her f i r s t novel, because she said i n an interview: I ' l l have to work hard a l l my l i f e now. I don't know how I wrote that novel. I ' l l have to learn how to write, so I can write another.8 As she proceeds "to learn how to w r i t e " i t becomes evident that she wishes "to Q record and interpret the processes of ordinary l i f e " . Undeniably, domestic problems are a f a m i l i a r part of those "processes of ordinary l i f e " , and a prime example of dissension can be seen i n the frequently abrasive r e l a t i o n s h i p between parent and c h i l d . Ostenso's observation of th i s problem receives 5w. Tasker Witham, The Adolescent i n the American Novel 1920-1960, (New York, 1964). 6 Dorothy Yost Deegan, The Stereotype of the Single Woman in American Novels, (New York, 1951). ^Roy W. Meyer, The Middle Western Farm Novel in the Twentieth Century, (Lincoln, Nebraska, 1965). g Morris Colman, "Martha Ostenso, Prize N o v e l i s t " , Maclean's Magazine, (January 1, 1925),56-58. ^Desmond Pacey, Creative W r i t i n g in Canada, (Toronto, 1964),203. corrobora t ive support i n the statement: Since farm parents thus become severe taskmasters as w e l l as guardians of behav i o r , there are more p o s s i b l e areas for family maladjustment on the farm than i n small town or c i t y . - ^ A convincing l e v e l of c r e d i b i l i t y can be found i n the var ious features of i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y i n W i l d Geese, e s p e c i a l l y i n the c o n f l i c t between Caleb and h i s daughter J u d i t h . The impulse of the l i f e - f o r c e , so powerful w i t h i n h e r , makes her "the only one of her f a t h e r ' s c h i l d r e n with s p i r i t and strength enough to f i g h t back against h i s c r u e l d o m i n a t i o n " . ^ C a r l a of The Waters Under the E a r t h x ^ shares with Judi th a common commitment to the l i f e - f o r c e . In t h i s r e s p e c t , they d i f f e r from t h e i r s i b l i n g s who, through negation of that f o r c e , expose themselves to c r i t i c i s m . T h e i r frequent mute acquiescence i s i n d i c a t i v e of a moral c a p i t u l a t i o n , as can be seen i n the case of C a r l a ' s youngest b r o t h e r , Tom, whose " i d e n t i t y seemed to have receded . . . from him, 13 l i k e a v a n i s h i n g point of l i g h t on a dark p l a i n " . The suppression of n a t u r a l human responses, i s part of the t o l l exacted by s o c i e t y when i n d i c a t i n g to i t s members how order may be achieved i n family r e l a t i o n s h i p s . The Welland c h i l d r e n , from Sophie who i s " o n l y h a l f present at any t ime, anywhere, and then only when some sensory impression 14 dis turbed h e r " , to C a r l a , who i s p e c u l i a r l y aware of the fact that she i s "remote from them", are a l l g u i l t y of denying themselves a heal thy o u t l e t for the rancour that f e s t e r s w i t h i n them. The three elements of the Ostenso 1 0 Witham, 97. n W i t h a i n , 91. 1 2 M a r t h a Ostenso, The Waters Under the E a r t h , (New York, 1930). 13 o p . c i t . , Ik. 1 4 o p . c i t . , 159. pattern come together at this point. In the focus upon family conflict are found the parallel concerns of religious prejudice and the psychological paraly-sis common to many Ostenso characters. A l l three elements contribute to a state of alienation developed as an important aspect in many novels, and achieving particular emphasis in her f i n a l n o v e l . I n this story the author, intent upon the eventual integration of the central character, examines different aspects of loneliness within a grown-up family. The efforts by the father "to assert his mastery lead to deterioration of the family until the suicide of Mark . . . 1 £ brings the others to their senses." Following the tragedy, Luke, the father, "comes to recognize that his sons have the right to live lives of their own".-^  A healthy communication is made possible, in a manner which contrasts with the smouldering anguish of Ellen in Wild Geese, Marcia in The Young May Moon, or of many of Matt Welland's children in The Waters Under the Earth. The problems resulting from conflict between parent and child are paralleled in Ostenso's work by those originating in marital discord. Like many observed characteristics of her art, the earliest examples of this source of tension can be found in Wild Geese. The central conflict involving Caleb's tyranny of Amelia tends to overshadow Mrs. Sandbo's sentiments when she says, "I vass a dog under him. Now I live good, not much money, but no d i r t from him, t'ank God." There is a suggestion of equivocation in the f u l l r e c i t a l of Mrs. Sandbo's feelings concerning her late husband, but there is no mistaking Ostenso's description of "the vixen's h e l l which Dora Brund offers daily to her Martha Ostenso, A Man Had T a l l Sons, (New York, 1958). 1 6Meyer, 226. l ^ l o c . c i t . 1 8Martha Ostenso, Wild Geese, (Toronto, 1961, reprinted 1967),17. A l l subsequent references w i l l be to this edition. kindly oxlike Joel." The brief v i s i t to the Brund cabin is more than adequate for the author's purposes. The situation in the Thorvaldson household is made quite apparent with even fewer words. After describing Thorvaldson's farm as "a fragment of neglect" in consequence of there being "nine g i r l s , and no boys," Ostenso gives a glimpse of the pregnant wife "struggling with the cattle in the 20 milk yard", being "pushed and jostled about by the unmanageable animals." t Her position is similar to Amelia's in that her husband f a i l s to accord her any respect as a human being. Thorvaldson, in talking about her, employs terminology 21 usually reserved for descriptions of farm beasts. Refusal to grant another person his basic rights is seminal to many of Ostenso's fic t i o n a l marital disasters. Sometimes i t is a central concern, as in The Dark Dawn, but at other times i t is a peripheral matter, such as the marriage of Nigel Prince in Milk Route. He "rarely uttered a word in the presence of his 22 wife" and succeeds in withdrawing himself completely to a fantasy l i f e . Abdica tion of responsibility can generally be discerned as the underlying cause of many marriage d i f f i c u l t i e s , whereas success is predicated upon a mutual preservation o self-respect. This fact emerges from the number of happy unions existing in the novels, or projected at their close. Lind and Mark, in Wild Geese, display an instinctive awareness of the basic requirement. It is quite apparent, too, that when Judith puts Sven to the test spiritually, and physically, she is •^Carlyle King, Introduction to Wild Geese, by Martha Ostenso, (Toronto, 1961, reprinted 1967), ix. 2 QWild Geese, 47. 2 1 o p . c i t . , 80. 2 2Martha Ostenso, Milk Route, (New York, 1948),219. 2 3Wild Geese, 74. 2 4 o p . c i t . , 86. assuring herself as to his fitness. The t r i a l is not a prolonged affair in Wild Geese, but in later novels, such as The Stone Field, The White Reef and Prologue to Love, i t receives greater emphasis. A denial of inalienable rights characterizes the gulf Ostenso's authority figures create in their human relationships. The total concept of the patriarchal tyrant commences with the rudimentary Caleb in Wild Geese, and proceeds to the far more complex Luke Darr in A Man Had T a l l Sons. In this, her last novel, she allows the tyrant to synthesize hitherto disparate aspects of l i f e into a unity of comprehensive tolerance. That opportunity is denied to others in Caleb's line of literary descent. There i s , i t is true, an abortive attempt to effect a regeneration for Caleb when "sanity came back to him, the cold clear sanity that had been gone from him during the years of his hatred. But by then i t is too late, and the threat to his avarice is about to become manifest. The f i r e guard, he tries to plough, is symbolic of the isolation he has always effected in his human relationships. It is also prophetic of the arrogance which insulates other authority figures from their fellows. As a central focus the authority figure becomes a point of reference, used to inform the rest of the novel. Operating as a perverted concept of what is normal, he makes excessive demands upon the good nature of other people, succeeding in achieving power far more effectively than i f he were to use brute force. Ostenso makes good use of her visual imagination to convey a sense of gloomy repression in her portraits of the tyrants, often relying upon contrast-ing patterns of light and shade. These patterns complement the v i t a l s piritual distinctions between her characters. In the atmosphere of the landscape they frequently become expressive of either inner tension or harmony. The opening pages of Wild Geese are revelatory in this regard. The fading daylight, accompanied by growing apprehension, at Caleb's approach, is balanced by a developing sense of Judith's wholesome qualities.2° A pre-occupation with cleaning lamps, by Amelia, and an habitual practice of turning down the wick, 27 by Caleb, reveals a symbolic struggle between the forces of light and dark. His behaviour is a manifestation of the way in which the Puritan mistakenly challenges light, narrowly distrustful of its broadening effects. Matt Welland's suspicion of education provides a further instance of the characteristic hostil-28 ity to light. By means of directing attention to darkness the tyrant is able to create that sense of guilt and isolation essential to his ends. An overpowering sense of guilt provides the basis of the third theme to be discussed. It is responsible for the incubus of dread afflicting so many of the characters and interfering with healthy rationalization of their difficul-ties. Despite exaggeration in some of the circumstances, there is a certain fidelity to l i f e experience which preserves a. sense of credibility concerning the behaviour of particular characters. It is a common experience to imagine ogres of retribution waiting for a false move. The ability to imagine the incu-bus necessitates a sensitivity to possibilities affecting one's own comfort and often that of others. Where there is a readily understood cause for the guilt feeling, sympathy is not hard to find. But where the cause is vague in origin then the reader's response to a character's sufferings is one of irritation. The device, as an element of her pattern, is first used by Ostenso in Wild Geese. Amelia's main concern hinges upon the fear of social chaos for her children, 29 should Caleb divulge what he knows. Used as a regular feature throughout her 26op.cit., 13. 2 7op.cit., 159-161. 2 8The Waters Under the Earth, 58. novels, the phantasy is at times a very contrived structure. This is the case in one story where a g i r l leaves home in the belief that her dying father is a murderer. She learns the truth only after enduring twelve years of self-effacement and fear.30 i n contrast, there is an amazing f i d e l i t y to l i f e shown in the sufferings of the victim of the "man-eating" farm wife who seduces him because of her husband's impotence.3^ Where she avoids placing too severe a strain upon credibility, Martha Ostenso is successful in her use of these three characteristic concerns of her art. The pattern she uses is that of l i f e i t s e l f and, although this study represents an attempt to isolate three distinct elements, their very inter-connectedness tends to obscure the original intent. Ostenso herself emphasizes this point when she describes the conversation between B i l l Clifford and Colin Trale. In recalling an earlier statement he makes, that one is "born to a pattern" which is inescapable, B i l l explains that by means of dissecting the pattern he can arrive at the formula: "You see how simple - " "That's bad thinking, B i l l , " Colin put in. "What's wrong with it? It cover the pattern doesn't i t ? " "Only a part of i t - and a very small part at that," Colin said, and looked at his watch. 3 2 In dealing with the work of any creative a r t i s t , certain conclusions may result from an examination of what seems to be a distinct feature. None of these conclusions, however, would have any v a l i d i t y unless viewed within the context of that artist's total production of work. °" ^Martha Ostenso, Love Passed this Way, (New York, 1942). •'•Martha Ostenso, The Mandrake Root, (New York, 1938). 2Milk Route, 180. Patterns of compatibility An example of what Martha Ostenso recognizes as a characteristic element in l i f e can be seen in her frequent f i c t i o n a l use of a strained family atmosphere resulting from f r i c t i o n between a parent and childi^ Possessiveness is a common factor in the majority of these conflicts in Ostenso's novels. It can be safely inferred that her analysis of the Gare family in Wild Geese gave her enormous confidence in the effectiveness of the device of creating a state of domestic tension. Caleb, the travesty of a father in her f i r s t novel, inspires her to include repressive parents in her subsequent stories. She makes an abortive attempt in The Dark Dawn with Agatha Dorrit, who never really emerges from the f l a t background and is hardly encountered in the novel. In The Young May Moon, however, Dorcas Gunther hobbles about as an obvious re-incarnation of Caleb. Matt Welland, in The Waters Under the Earth, continues the line, followed by Jarvis Dean in Prologue to Love, Magdali Vinge in 0 River, Remember], and Luke Darr in A Man Had T a l l Sons. There is a gradual development of the character from the point where the melodramatic Caleb, forever brushing the right hand side of his moustache with his lef t hand,2 and plotting some unsavoury act of retribution, gives way to the much more reasonable Luke Darr, whose "nose 3 twitched uneasily." Luke Darr, like Caleb, is aff l i c t e d by a sense of injustice, but he exhibits distinct p o s s i b i l i t i e s as a character capable of regeneration. He seeks to possess his children with love rather than hate. Caleb frustrates XWitham, 71. 2 Wild Geese, Examples of Caleb's habit may be found on pages 154, 160, 165, and elsewhere. 3 •' - ' A Man Had T a l l Sons, 40. the desires of his children through his fear that he w i l l lose their services on the farm.^ Ellen's dream of a relationship with Malcolm is successfully-shattered, but Caleb has to reckon with a far more tenacious opponent in Judith. This pattern of restriction, based upon credible economic reasons and a certain degree of prejudice, proves very attractive to Martha Ostenso, because she employs the motif in a number of her subsequent n o v e l s . T h e formula invariably calls for a Caleb-type parent who tyrannizes the family while his mate remains isolated, and helpless to protest: Then suddenly the old fear of him swept upon her like a torrent of icy water, beads of sweat broke out about her li p s , her hands shook.^ The tyrant, who appears to have complete control over his family, is invariably drawn as an extreme figure in terms of Ostenso's creative faculties. Like Caleb, each one occupies a very central position, and by dint of forcefulness and self-interest exerts more than a f a i r share of influence over other people. Where Caleb and Judith are concerned, the relationship has already deteriorated into selfish bullying, on the part of the father, which turns his daughter's face into a "naked image of hate." 7 The father, sitti n g at the centre of a dark web of intrigue, is motivated by a consuming avarice and hatred. His daughter, in responding to the inner stirrings of l i f e , sees that her only hope for satis-factory fulfillment lies in a definite break with her family, and with the community. She rejects the idea that she is "an animal to be driven and tied ^Witham, 96. ^Especially true of Magdali Vinge in 0 River, Remember! (New York, 1943). 6Wild Geese, 100. 7op.cit., 13. and tended for the value of her plodding strength." Judith has an instinctive knowledge of things belonging to a world other than the drudgery of Oeland. Her degree of self-realization is in remarkable contrast to the mental attitude of the twins, Ellen and Martin. Judith responds to the natural rhythms in a frankly pagan way,^ whereas her brother and sister exhibit pathetic, atrophied reactions to youth's urgings. Like some spirited mythological creature, Judith selects the^ f i t t e s t partner, physically and spiri t u a l l y when, "locked in furious embrace" with Sven, she "fought with insane abandon to any hurt he might i n f l i c t , or he would have mastered her at once."-^ The relationship between Judith and Sven develops into a passion that cannot be contained, and pregnancy results. It becomes apparent that they must leave Oeland, because Amelia is unable to intercede with Caleb on her daughter's behalf. The elopement, like most events in the story, is geared to the season of growth and projected for the close of harvest. The incident with the axe threatens to interfere with their plans, but the escape does occur. On the night of the harvest celebration, Judith leaves with her lover, "urging the horses on and looking back now and then to see that they were not being follow^ . ed." 1 1 The pattern created by Caleb's frustration of his children is picked up as a theme in other Ostenso novels. As in Wild Geese, one parent is an active force of obstruction, while the other has a passive, non-assertive 12 role. The inclusion of love as a factor becomes increasingly a matter for 8op.cit., 188. 9 Witham, 60. 1 0Wild Geese, 86. 1 1 o p . c i t . , 229. 1 n Good examples of this may be found in The Waters Under the Earth and 0 River, Remember] intellectual curiosity on the author's part, allowing her to display a develop-ing faculty for psychological insight. In Wild Geese there is an atmosphere of melodramatic incredibility where the relations between Judith and her father are concerned, but the mutual repugnance emerges as a distinct possibility. The attitudes revealed at the end seem f a i r l y plausible, too. Judith is intent only upon leaving a place where she has been victimized, while her father is enraged at losing a sturdy work animal. The absence of mutual love or respect makes the novelist's task so much simpler. A clean severance is possible because there is no affection in Judith to cause an aching desire to mollify her father. Extremely self-willed antagonists re-appear in Ostenso's work but undergo significant modifications. For example, Matt Welland of The Waters Under the  Earth is a notable development of the Caleb figure but has been subjected to a number of changes. He is an obstinately puritanical business failure, who maintains a relentless grip upon his family of seven adult children. Neither his children nor his wife openly defy his wishes, and he relies upon his constant presence in the home, functioning as a mirror of devout propriety. The characterization is credible enough, permitting a much more subtle psychological intercourse than Wild Geese allows. Judith's counterpart is Matt's daughter 13 Carlotta, "a true pagan". Committed to a programme of quiet self-involvement, she determines to ignore her father's narrowly prejudiced views concerning both the man he thinks would be suitable for. .her, and the man whose radical views he cannot t o l e r a t e . C a r l o t t a presents an interesting development in the Judith pattern because she relies most decidedly upon cool, rational intellectualization and succeeds in stepping adroitly out of her father's web of self-righteous restrictiveness. Her siblings are not so fortunate, or possibly 1 3The Waters Under the Earth, 166. op.cit., 317. they are more sensitive to the sentimental appeal of their father. The eldest daughter Sophie mourns for a lover, missing in the war, which ended twelve years previously. Her father had disapproved of him and succeeds in effectively discouraging any subsequent male admirers.^ She continues to play the role of a docile spinster u n t i l her accidental death. Another study of the spinster is provided by her sister, Jenny, an interesting example of a thwarted ar t i s t who prostitutes her talent by decorating china and, in so doing, undergoes a 16 personality change. This change is further complicated by a serious disa b i l i t y , incurred in a car accident, after the pangs of conscience cause her to regret her elopement with the man she loves. Confined, thereafter to a wheelchair, she becomes an acid echo of her father's moral narrowness and a reminder of Ellen's perverse sense of loyalty to Caleb, a factor which helps maintain the abrasive state of affairs in the earlier novel and this one, too. The mood of gloom in Wild Geese helps equip the portrait of Judith ^  with the requisite amount of smouldering injustice, and provides a suitably stark background for the contest between father and daughter. In The Waters  Under the Earth Ostenso reduces the tension, but in so doing allows the heroine to emerge in a somewhat equivocal light. Judith is treated harshly and her conduct is perfectly ju s t i f i e d , but Carlotta Welland i s , i f anything, a rather indulged young person who leaves a number of questions unanswered concerning her moral values. After a l l , she does lock Clint Proles in the cellar of his house. Even though she does not know that Ruth is going to burn the house, thinking Clint is in town, she allows her father to believe that Ruth is fu l l y responsible for the tragedy. Ruth and Carlotta were present when Sophie met her death: i ; 5op.cit., 53. •^Jenny represents an example of the "lost musician," a feature in a number of the novels. "I mean just what I say, You would stop at nothing," Ruth whispered, "I don't believe Sophie fell."17 These two instances are evidence of the development of an important part of the Ostenso design. Carlotta is recognizably Judith, but has an innate worldliness, which preserves her from those blunders of youth that obsess Judith; however, Judith, the earth goddess, makes a more immediate appeal in terms of moral wholesomeness. Caleb is under no delusion as to Judith's opinion of him. She is as honest in her hatred as she in in her love. Carlotta knows that, in spite of his narrow possessiveness, her father actually loves her, but she can neither return his love, nor embark upon a reasonable discussion of her own point of view. The tyranny of non-communication marks the relationship of Matt Welland and his daughter. It has an influence, too, upon the principal characters, Jarvis Dean and his daughter, in Prologue to Love. The heroine of this novel, Autumn Dean, is a blend of Judith Gare and Lind Archer. She has a great deal of Judith's independence and, by virtue of her education and travels, the sophistication of the teacher who came to of Oeland. Also, like several^Ostenso's heroines, Autumn Dean shows that depth of sentiment which allows demonstrations of sympathy for the tyrant. The author, herself, is not averse to saying that, when the "wind moved in his (Caleb's) scrag of hair . . . in the invisible touch was a gesture of i n f i n i t e 18 pity." It is not surprising to read that Jenny, in The Waters Under the  Earth, is drawn home by the vision of "her father's face, his gentle, lost eyes, I Q the tears f a l l i n g unrestrainedly down the withered ruddiness of his cheeks." Therefore, when father and daughter have a dispute in Prologue to Love, i t is 1 7The Waters Under the Earth, 282. to be expected that Autumn w i l l feel that: . . . her own frame of mind had been too desolate to make the task easy. 2 0 She was sorry for him, inexpressibly so. The conflict, depicted in Prologue to Love, is related to the problems found in the other two novels, in that the father is a thwarting influence upon the daughter. Caleb's motives are unabashedly selfish, while Matt Welland's are caused by prejudice which Carlotta has no d i f f i c u l t y in recognizing. To her father's narrowness she can "shut her eyes delicately" 2-'- or regard i t in a detached way "as though looking on at a curious drama in which she had no part." 2 2 Autumn Dean, because she is an only child, cannot withdraw in that way. She is obliged to acknowledge her own involvement in her father's reason for crumpling "back into his chair, his chin fallen forward on his breast, his gaunt frame heaving convulsively," 2 3 after she announces her intention of marrying Bruce Landor. The reasons behind Jarvis Dean's collapse, and his strangled "You - you can't marry him," are patently improbable but, never-theless, Autumn, after a f i t f u l night. . . . awoke to a thin, gray daylight, to find that her face was wet with tears. In the reality of her dream, she turned over on her pillow and gave herself up to despondent weeping.2^ The conflict in the story develops out of Autumn's desire to respect her father's wishes, but in attempting to suppress her love for Bruce Landon she offends 2 0Martha Ostenso, Prologue to Love, (New York, 1931), 187. 2 1The Waters Under the Earth, 105. 2 2 o p . c i t . , 299. 2 3 Prologue to Love, 96. 2 4 l o c . c i t . 2 5 o p . c i t . , 109. Jarvis Dean's concept of propriety. To her credit, she is capable of facing her father on these matters, explaining that he is "carrying on quite unnecessarily," 2** but nothing much is gained, owing to his a b i l i t y to seem "to have gone suddenly feeble, defeated." 2 7 The death of Autumn's mother twenty years earlier, is a circumstance related to Jarvis Dean's unwillingness to bless his daughter's marital ambition. The dead wife exerts a powerful influence upon events in the story, and is 28 responsible for much of the unhappiness and discord marking the main plot. Yet, in spite of her importance in the novel, she f a i l s to register the impression Agatha Darr makes in A Man Had T a l l Sons. Autumn's mother remains a shade of an improbably romantic sophisticate. There is a decided atmosphere of unreality in the picture of her given by Jarvis Dean, when he says that she "was a siren and an angel.'1 7 Her vague insubstantiality is sharply contrasted by Agatha Darr, who is an almost palpable presence in Ostenso's fi n a l novel. Here the author reveals an understanding of the intimate relationship often sensed between dead persons and objects, with which they have been familiar during l i f e . The furniture, which Mark is asked to remove from the room his mother had shared with Luke, her dahlia bed, and other aspects of the property which had been hers, a l l stare back at the boy with a poignant immediacy which the reader cannot escape. op.cit., 157. op.cit., 159. 'This factor is discussed in Chapter Four. 'prologue to Love, 100. Even now there was something of her present in.this room, as though the mirror, having borne her image through so many years, s t i l l held a part of her liv i n g s p i r i t and was loath to give i t up.3^ In expanding the focus on love to include the boy's love for his dead mother, Ostenso is exploiting a contrapuntal potential to a degree that she has not tried before. Mark's sensibilities are outraged by his father's decision to remarry within a year of his mother's death, and he feels a smouldering resent-ment against his father's efforts to erase a l l reminders of Agatha. There is a symbolic force to this novel that is a tribute to Ostenso's improvement in technique. Mark's bonfire of the bedroom furniture, 3^-redundant owing to its silent reproach, is balanced by the decision to immolate himself in the church his father wishes to replace. Further symbolic force resides in the fact i t is the same church in which Margot suffers her fatal accident. Paradoxically, however, i t is his suicide by means of f i r e which cleanses his father's heart and helps to reveal the broader rewards possible from a less narrow approach to l i f e . The symbolic fires in the story are further balanced by the opening and closing descriptions of the abodes of those recently dead. In the case of Mark, the removal of the_ old furniture from his mother's room serves to lay bare the wound of her passing, but his father's experience in the cabin is quite different: 3 0 A Man Had T a l l Sons, 2. op.cit., 5. He put out a hand and again . picked up the dahlia bulb he had cast aside. He pressed i t again and found i t firm and f u l l of l i f e straining for a new birth. He folded i t warmly for a moment in his palm and seemed to feel ^ the s t i r of l i f e deep within i t . Mark's death succeeds in expanding his awareness of God in a l l his manifesta-tions; i t helps him to break out of the confines >6f narrow orthodoxy. In his gentle grip of the bulb, he is making his peace with Agatha, as well as Mark, because he is acknowledging the integrity and broad charity of a philosophic outlook he has hitherto repudiated. Luke Dafr's awakening, at the end of the novel, recalls a similar occurrence towards the conclusion of Wild Geese. After realizing that his brutal beating of Amelia has not produced any worthwhile effect,, Caleb rushes out with the knowledge that Amelia "had broken him . . . in the c r i s i s . " His chance for regeneration comes too late. He has spent far too long harbour-ing a resentment against his wife because in the "earlier passion of the blood he had found himself externally frustrated." 3 4 Amelia had loved the father of her f i r s t child and Caleb realizes that in marrying him she has made use of an expedient. The knowledge that he has never "possessed" Amelia corrodes Caleb's values to the extent that he becomes a sadistic monster both in his own home and in the community at large. But i t is in his own household that his activities seem most reprehensible. Except for one or two instances of sharp business practice, his prime concern is to maintain a "balance of 3 5 contrariness" in his own family. In believing that he is "the betrayed and 32 op.cit., 367. 3 3Wild Geese, 233. op.cit., 20. op.cit., 172. cheated v i c t i m i n a t r i a n g l e , ' 0 0 Caleb feels p e r f e c t l y j u s t i f i e d in behaving with callous malevolence towards his wife and children: His s e n s i b i l i t i e s were c r y s t a l l i z e d in the b e l i e f that l i f e had done him an eternal wrong, which no deed of h i s own could 37 over-avenge.' The device of m a r i t a l discord, r e s u l t i n g from a sense of having been cheated, can be detected in several of the novels. It can be found sometimes as the central theme, and at other times as a subsidiary, but nonetheless v i t a l , consideration. In Wild Geese, Mrs. Sandbo's daughter, Dora Brund, s i t s i n slovenly contemplation of the four walls of the shack, "sighing over the romances of her past," with the patrons of the lunch counter where she once 38 worked. She allows her f e e l i n g , of having been cheated, to dominate her e n t i r e horizon. It is not s u r p r i s i n g to read in Ostenso's next novel "that William Dorr i t was cheated out of l i f e i t s e l f the day he married." 3^ The fate of Lucian D o r r i t i s to be, for a time, s i m i l a r to that of h i s father. He marries a very determined woman, Hattie Murker, who "seemed much more than four years older than L u c i a n " 4 ^ a n ( j n^e f e l t h e l p l e s s l y young, inexpressibly callow and unfit".41 Unlike Dora Brund, Lucian D o r r i t has "a r e a l l y quite unusual mind,"42 and is able, eventually, to e s t a b l i s h an equilibrium in h i s l i f e leading to the prospects of a more congenial r e l a t i o n s h i p with the young neighbour, Karen Strand. 3 6 o p . c i t . , 102. 3 7 l o c . c i t . 3 8 W i l d Geese, 106. 3 9Martha Ostenso, The Dark Dawn, (New York, 1926), 25. 4 0 o p . c i t . , 90. 4 1 o p . c i t . , 91. The discord, in Lucian Dorrit's married l i f e , is largely the result of a mis-match, and its origin can be seen even in the marriage of the Gares. Caleb's jealousy of Amelia's f i r s t lover and, his consuming self pity are not the only causes for the failure of that marriage. There are sound reasons to suppose the fact that "Amelia had been Roman Catholic before her marriage," must have contributed further cause for fri c t i o n in their relationship. Caleb is not averse to referring to Anton Klovacz as an " i n f i d e l " , 4 4 and in the matter of the problem of interring a Roman Catholic in a Protestant cemetery he t e l l s Mark "I'd be glad as the next one to do a l l I could, even for a heathen," but there i s , of course, "the sanctity o' the church and its grounds . . . to be considered."^ Ostenso's use of religious prejudice occurs again in Matt Welland's opposition to his son Paget's desire to marry "Dorie Mayhew -the daughter of Sam Mayhew, a Roman Catholic, a man who had been charged with smuggling liquor across the Canadian border."4** The root cause of incompatib-i l i t y in marriage i s , in most cases, the failure of one partner to make adequ-ate concessions to the dignity of the other. This would be particularly true of the marriage of Dora Brund. Her heart and soul lay with the cheap glit t e r of a waitress's l i f e , surrounded by "guys" who were "stuck" on her. 4 7 Her patient, oxlike husband, hardworking and inarticulate, cannot compensate in any respect for the glamour, out of which she feels she is being cheated. The Dora Brund figure appears again in other novels by Martha Ostenso. Elevated from the position of a minor figure she often becomes a v i t a l component 4 3Wild Geese, 35. 4 4 o p . c i t . , 160. ^o p . c i t . , 203. 4 6The Waters Under the Earth, 40. of the structure. In Wild Geese, the stage is f i l l e d with characters, and the domestic tragedy of Joel Brund receives scant attention. But later on the concept of the dissatisfaction which the city-oriented person can feel for a rural existence is brought well to the fore as a reason for a marriage becom-ing sour. The differences are always quite apparent. It is a matter of no surprise to read that Corinne Meader, a banker's daughter, is "small and exquisitely formed, with negligible trinkets of feet, and a scantily hatted l i t t l e head" 4 8 when she arrives at Roddy Willard's farm following her marriage. Similarly, Teresa Jaffey, also a banker's daughter whose "bosom rose into two 49 l i t t l e abrupt cones," is intended to present an anomalous appearance, emerg-ing from a stable with: . . . her hands in the pockets of her yellow linen dress while she pointed her high-heeled slippers out one after the other in a pretty half dancing step.-^O These two females are grossly unsuitable for l i f e on the farm, and they are replaced, after much tribulation, by ladies who have a l l the necessary qualifica-tions, or are willing to adapt themselves to the exigencies of agricultural environments. The clean-cut profile under the rather shabby hat, the country-colored throat and cheek . . . . Whoever she was, she had the same sturdy set to her shoulders, the same proud l i f t to her head, the same resolute walk.51 Down to earth g i r l s , such as Jo Porte and Silver Grenoble, who "had fed those pigs on buttermilk and bran mash and had grown to love their tight, blue-black 4 8Martha Ostenso, There's Always Another Year, (New York, 1933),72. 4 9Martha Ostenso, The Stone Field, (New York, 1937),43. 5 0 o p . c i t . , 196. bodies", are quite incapable of behaving like Teresa, who: . . . flashed erect and confronted him with s h r i l l , articulate venom. "Yes - I know why. You fool - you dumb farmer! You've never been anything else and you never w i l l be . . . . Stay here with your muck - that's where you belong.""*3 Her behaviour to her husband, Royce, is paralleled by the incident in which Corinne t e l l s Roddy: "You're evidently too much of a clod - born and bred - to have any ambition beyond grovelling in a corn-patch . . . . You want to make a slattern out of me. A l l right - I ' l l do my best to be one.'"54 The farm wife has to be of a vastly different calibre in order to succeed. In 0 River, Remember! Magdali Vinge is the dominant partner and there are echoes of Hattie Murker in her portrayal. Her ambition and hard work ensure the kind of comfort that Hattie desires. She is her husband's senior by two years, another parallel with Hattie Murker, who is four years older than Lucian, and also with Agatha Darr, who "had been older than he (Luke) by almost five years" and has a similar grasp on affa i r s . Magdali and Ivar never actually quarrel in the normally accepted meaning of the term. Most of Ivar's indignation is quite inarticulate, and to a l l intents and purposes ineffective. Her early land speculation f i l l s him with horror. He realizes that she and her brother, Roald are being quite heartless in tempting Charlie Endicott with ready cash for property which is bound to become a great deal more valuable. 5*' She maintains ^There's Always Another Year, 168. 5 3The Stone Field, 270. 5 4There's Always Another Year, 212. 5 5 A Man Had T a l l Sons, 12. 5 6Q River, Remember! 122. an a i r of blandness, impervious to Ivar's rare expressions of annoyance. This is even the case when, following her intervention i n t h e i r son's romance, she hears her husband's "voice blare out l i k e thunder.""^ M a r i t a l discord of a somewhat d i f f e r e n t kind i s observable i n M i l k  Route and The Waters Under the Earth. There i s a s i m i l a r i t y in se t t i n g ; both sto r i e s are set in small towns, and one i s conscious of there being a d i s t i n c t resemblance between Ruth Welland and Molly C l i f f o r d , both p h y s i c a l l y and emotionally. Ruth i s c e r t a i n l y not a beauty, with "eyes . . . prominent because CO of a thyroid condition" and "red, excessive l i p s , " and Molly i s " t h i n below the knees, and shaped l i k e a sausage a l l the way up from there."-^ The d i f f i c u l t i e s between Ruth and her husband, C l i n t Proles, are aggravated by the fact that "she just wants to get away from home . . . so she took the f i r s t guy who asked her" and within a comparatively short period she returns home, s h r i l l -ing: Do you know what i t i s for a man to come in drunk every night and outrage h i s wife - and bring children into the world that smell to heaven of alcohol?61 The s i t u a t i o n she describes i s far too s p e c i a l i z e d for her audience, the s a i n t l y Matt Welland, and h i s family. The immediate response i s to f e e l she requires "a cup of hot tea". Ruth's marriage i s a t r a g i c a f f a i r due to her father's opposition to most of her admirers and the f a i r l y w e ll r e a l i z e d motive she has 5 7 o p . c i t . , 324. 5 8 T h e Waters Under the Earth, 28. 5 9 M i l k Route, 41. 6 0 T h e Waters Under the Earth, 17. 61 o p . c i t . , 45. 62 op . c i t . , 46. for marrying C l i n t Proles,"a lout of a farmer" as Sophie described him. When Car l o t t a "looked i t up i n the d i c t i o n a r y . . . sure enough, that was exactly what C l i n t Proles was." Molly C l i f f o r d , presumably, has none of these problems. Her marriage to B i l l C l i f f o r d took place before the war and, apart from the fact that she "used to drink too much when he f i r s t married her, but he fixed that," t h e i r c h i l d l e s s union has not seemed unsuccessful. The war, however, makes a d r a s t i c d i f f e r e n c e . Returning from ac t i v e service, as a Navy f l i e r , C l i f f o r d finds adjustment to normal l i f e very d i f f i c u l t , and discovers he is completely out of sympathy with Molly's connubial expectations: "I wasn't asleep - nor the night a f t e r that, when you sat up for hours by yourself, hoping I'd be asleep before you came to bed. What do you think I'm made of, anyhow? If you've got another woman somewhere "65 Molly's f r u s t r a t i o n has i t s o r i g i n i n previous Ostenso novels. Hattie becomes furious with Lucian for a s i m i l a r reason "So that's i t l " She flung at him "I don't look r i g h t to you. I don't appeal to you any more . . . . A l l these years I've l i v e d with a man who married me so he could l i v e o f f me - I who might have married a man, took you - -you . . . . " 6 6 The sexual f r u s t r a t i o n , evident i n the r e a c t i o n of Hattie to Lucian's f r i g i d conduct, and l a t e r i n Molly's abuse of B i l l , can be seen also in Marcia Gunther's appeal to her husband Rolf: 6 3 o p . c i t . , 9. 6 4 M i l k Route, 39. 6 5 o p . c i t . , 112-113. 66 The Dark Dawn, 234. "A man's wife! I'm not made to be that kind of wife, R o l f ! I'm t i r e d of being a s a i n t . I want to be loved -to have a lover, R o l f . I want you to be my lover."67 Marcia i s unsuccessful in t h i s attempt to s t i r her husband into romantic a c t i v i t y . The incident i s so unnerving for him that he goes away and drowns himself, leaving Marcia to spend a number of years in lonely expiation before she decides to marry again. Marcia's c r i t i c i s m was d i r e c t e d towards the q u a l i t y of h i s lovemaking rather than the quantity, one would suppose, because well within the respectable l i m i t s of the gestation period she gives b i r t h to a son, whom she names a f t e r h i s father. That Lydie Clarence has a d i f f e r e n t problem to deal with cannot be denied. The morning a f t e r seducing E r i c Stene, during her husband's enforced absence,she t e l l s him: "I've known for some time that my marriage would never give me a c h i l d . . . . But during the past year i t has become an obsession with me - I have thought of nothing e l s e , E r i c . I know I can bear a c h i l d . . . , " 6 8 Lydie f e l t very confident that her planning was flawless, but did not count upon arousing an emotional storm in the breast of her v i c t i m . His subsequent behaviour leads to the discovery of the truth by Andrew, the husband, who promptly shoots himself in a torment of misery. Andrew learns the truth and finds the knowledge quite unbearable, but i n The Mad Carews Elsa suffers the miseries of suspecting that her husband i s a p r o f l i g a t e . This suspicion delays the consummation of t h e i r marriage for the greater part of the novel, causing mutual unhappiness: D /Martha Ostenso, The Young May Moon, (New York, 1929), 8. 6 8Martha Ostenso, The Mandrake Root, (New York, 1938),198-9. She went with him into the bedroom and took her things out of the bag while Bayliss gathered some articles of his own and carried them to the outer room. When she was alone again she f e l t once more that sense of piercing, incomprehensible reproach.°9 Elsa presents an interesting example of the total Ostenso formula at work. She is a credible figure, portrayed as a young woman who aspires to marriage with a scion of the most important family in the d i s t r i c t ; she has a lot in common with Jo Porte, in The Stone Field, in this respect. In terms of human behaviour her conduct is plausible enough, and the pattern seems to be familiar. The desire for a virtuous partner and the imbalance of pride, which can inter-pose i t s e l f , s t i f l i n g the natural expression of married love, has been seen before in Caleb and can be detected in Judith to a certain extent.^ It is a contrapuntal element, of Martha Ostenso's writing, which does not seem at a l l strange. Stubborn blindness and f o l l y are part of the common lot. Elsa's partial blindness, in her relations with Bayliss Carew, is part of a conventional pattern of behaviour. Ostenso is recording the operation of a system of sliding values, with which most readers are familiar. When observing characteristic human behaviour, one needs to remember that the point of view is significantly different for each actor in the scene, and certainly vastly different for the detached onlooker. Ostenso remains generally aware of that phenomenon, as far as this aspect of her writing is concerned. Human beings are wholly or partly blind in many respects and i t should not surprise a reader to discover this fact in novels dealing with family relationships. Elsa must be allowed a certain latitude in terms of the amount of blindness she can be permitted in the novel. This is because she is subject &9Martha Ostenso, The Mad Carews, (New York, 1927), 161. 7 0 W i l d Geese, 74. to the debilitating effects of the two other main themes selected for this study. While i t is true that she is not the victim of a tyrannical figure, she i s , nevertheless, exposed to a pervasive climate of Puritanism which transforms her into a victim of her own prejudice. On a modified scale, she becomes a tyrant to Bayliss. In withholding her connubial gifts she is imitat-ing the behaviour of the unforgiving authoritarian figures who slam the bedroom door on reprobate human nature. The ogre of jealous suspicion, haunting her, is an example of the incubus of dread which interferes drastically with her a b i l i t y to communicate rationally with her husband. The hiatus of non-communication and lack of understanding w i l l be seen as a significant factor in the portrayal of the majority of Ostenso's authority figures. Chapter Three The Puritan's Progress In the majority of Ostenso's portraits of the authority figures, or Puritans, the immediate impression is of motionless s t a b i l i t y . The authori-tarian is a fixed centre around which the action takes place. Ostenso makes a point of saying that "Caleb was the clock by which the family slept, woke, ate and moved"''" in order to emphasize the centrality of his role in the story. It is as though he were being established as an unfailing point of reference. Care is taken to treat authority figures similarly in other novels. Stress is laid upon an universal pre-occupation with time, particularly where i t affects the design of l i f e , of which the authoritarian is the centre. The concern with time, however, is entirely selfish and restrictive, reflecting merely a denial of l i f e , characteristic of the narrow doctrine by which the Puritan governs his own affai r s , and those of others. He prefers to take "a stationary form, as i f the v i t a l impulse were too weak to risk the adventure of motion." The " v i t a l impulse" is held in check until i t is stunted and confined in patterns of sombre negation. The "adventure of motion" is to be feared, because i t may reveal the existence of other points of view. Time, thought, and progress are denied by clamping controls, constricting the l i f e stream and acting as factors of impedi-ment when members of the Puritan's family try to escape "bravely into the end-less risks of thought." The nature of the Puritan's control is what occupies Ostenso in a number of her works. It becomes apparent that she allows a kind of creative iwild Geese, 56. ^ i l l Durant, "Creative Evolution", The Story of Philosophy, (New York, 1926),343. 3Durant, 346. evolution, in the Bergsonian sense, to occur in the portrayal of the authority figure, Her examination moves from Caleb in Wild Geese to Luke Darr in A Man Had Ta l l Sons, a process occupying more than 30 years, and resulting in an optimistic note of regeneration. The destruction of that concept of a severe, unyielding, central authority assumed to be the nature of God, is the literary goal to which Martha Ostenso strives. Her aim is to arrive at a point where the Puritan can comprehend that a: . . . persistently creative l i f e , of which every individual and every species is an experiment, is what we mean by God; God and Life are one.4 The constrictions imposed by an omnipotent, limited God, who makes arbitrary decisions concerning election and reprobation, and promotes a way of l i f e in which man prepares for the best but expects the worst, can lead only to atrophy and self-destruction. The central authoritarian, the unknowable tyrant, is a pattern relatively simple to follow, requiring basically the a b i l i t y to deny the i n d i v i s i b i l i t y of God and Life. By turning his back on l i f e , the petty tyrant rejects a l l evidence of development and flux. Matt Welland, of The Waters Under the Earth, in speaking to the minister in his usual opinionated, and unexamined, way, says: I can't think that other days differed so very much from our own . . . . In the sight of God, eternity is but a day. Our times are in his hands. . . . A l l Times are in his hands. Ev i l today is e v i l tomorrow, as i t was e v i l yesterday.5 The doctrine of stable values in the matter of time and e v i l as pronounced by this particular authoritarian, i;s Matt's way of identifying with the theory which: lo c . c i t . the Waters Under the Earth, 276. . . . had located the p r i n c i p l e of e v i l squarely in the heart of man, and at the same time had i n s i s t e d on his utter i n a b i l i t y to a l t e r h i s predestined e l e c t i o n or reprobation.** Nothing could change the i n e v i t a b l e f a c t s . Time, the i n f i n i t e s i m a l property in the grip of the awful tyrant i s useful only as a measure of man's e v i l . It i s the secret of God's control and the source of His power over mankind. The r e l a t i o n s h i p of man to God is not the main thesis of Ostenso's f i r s t novel, but i t undoubtedly occupies her mind as a substantial considera-t i o n in so far as the d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n of characters i s concerned. There are clear i n d i c a t i o n s , as to the extent of her concern, in the frequent references made by i n d i v i d u a l s in regard to such a r e l a t i o n s h i p . Quite t y p i c a l i s the comment made by Mark Jordan: If there's a God, I imagine that's where he s i t s and does his thinking. The s i l e n c e is awful. You f e e l immense things going on, i n v i s i b l y . 7 Mark's a t t i t u d e i s quite d i f f e r e n t from the Puritans' b e l i e f . In f a c t , he is so far removed from the r e s t r i c t i v e p r i n c i p l e s of t h e i r doctrine that the v i t a l concerns of Puritanism f a i l to r e g i s t e r . L i f e is an all-important fact for him and God, in so far as he may e x i s t , i s assumed to be i n t e g r a l with l i f e , part of the "immense things going on." In t h i s respect, Judith's naked communion with nature has echoes of Mark's thought: Rod W. Horton and Herbert W. Edwards, Backgrounds of American L i t e r a r y Thought, (New York, 1952), 46. But here was something forbiddenly b e a u t i f u l , secret as one's own body. And there was something beyond t h i s . She could f e e l i t in the freeness of the a i r , in the depth of the earth . . . . The marvellous confusion and complexity of a l l the world had singled her out . . . . 8 Judith senses the vast chain of r e l a t i o n s h i p s refuted by the Puritan. The pantheistic rhapsody, to which she w i l l i n g l y responds, i s the throbbing pulse of l i f e , the e x c i t i n g rhythm of the dance, whose existence the petty tyrant denies. Locked inside walls of prejudice, he finds nothing but e v i l i n the Q mere suggestion. Mankind i s held in suspension by "the awful mystery," but remains culpable for his conduct; The edge of the doctrine of innate depravity was made sharp on the whetstone of human r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . It was obvious that men had contrived to bring upon themselves a l l the anguish they suffered; i t was s t i l l more obvious that neither this awareness nor the anguish i t s e l f l i b e r a t e d them from the trammels of p e r v e r s i t y . A being who brought such a destiny upon himself could hardly expect to fin d within himself the power to master it.10 The "trammels of p e r v e r s i t y " act then as the c o n s t r i c t i n g force upon people w i l l i n g to accept the b e l i e f that they "had contrived to bring upon themselves a l l the anguish they suffered". It becomes the s a l i e n t point of Ostenso's f i r s t novel, but is used in a way suggestive of a parody of the Puritan p r i n c i p l e , rather than as a serious examination of a fundamental d o c t r i n a l d i s a b i l i t y . Ostenso becomes more concerned with the r e l i g i o u s tyrant in her l a t e r novels. In Wild Geese she i s affected by the contemporary desire to p i l l o r y " o p . c i t . , 53. 9 P e r r y M i l l e r , The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century, (Boston, 1961),10. 1 0 o p . c i t . , 25. "Puritanism" and i t i s not inconceivable that her career-long i n t e r e s t in the subject had i t s genesis in a popular campaign waged against c e r t a i n s u p e r f i c i a l manifestations of the stern tyranny. Luccock describes i t as "the r e v o l t from Puritanism", and he writes that i t : . . . provided a new d e v i l - the t h e o l o g i c a l d e v i l had expired - leaving a hiatus. In "Puritanism" a new d e v i l was discovered, a fixed point against which a l l one's rage could be discharged, a new root of a l l e v i l . H There i s a strong p o s s i b i l i t y that the very popularity of the trend was responsible for the exaggeration of the p o r t r a i t of Caleb. The "root of a l l e v i l " is c e r t a i n l y exploited in t h i s character, who i s presented in many ways as the epitome of malignity. But he corresponds to the concept of P u r i t a n i c a l repression, based upon the model of the Puritan God with whom Ostenso wishes to confuse Caleb Gare. Caleb i s desirous of complete power and control in h i s family and in the community, and l i k e the Puritan God, he gains his control over others through t h e i r sinfulness and g u i l t . It i s more correct to describe the treatment of the Puritan in t h i s novel as a parody, because Caleb i s not a c t u a l l y a r e l i g i o u s person. He uses the appearance of piety in order to further his own ends, and i t is the absurdity, but at the same time cr u e l t y , of his conduct which is the target of Ostenso's s a t i r e : Better l i v e here l i k e we are, poor but content, than to seek the world and a l l i t s vices for enlargement of our worldly wealth. That, Jude, i s for you to think of, c a r e f u l , and for you, E l l e n and Martin, and l i k e as not, for you, C h a r l i e . 'For i f they f a l l , the one w i l l l i f t up hi s fellow! but woe hear me woe to him that i s alone when he f a l l e t h : Do they 12 understand the lesson, Amelia? •'••'"Halford E. Luccock, Contemporary American L i t e r a t u r e and R e l i g i o n , (New York, 1934), 93-8. Caleb's h y p o c r i t i c a l manipulation of the sermon i s calculated to supplement his weapon of control over Amelia and, through her, h i s c h i l d r e n . He has succeeded, in maintaining some power over Amelia, by constantly reminding her that she has committed an o r i g i n a l s i n which resulted in the b i r t h of an i l l e g i t i m a t e c h i l d . The necessity for ensuring that the children remain on the farm, as cheap labour, becomes his passion, and through the goading influence of the constant reminder of her s i n , Caleb feels he can guarantee Amelia's complicity. The children are to be s a c r i f i c e d to his material ambitions, and one way to control them, besides intimidating t h e i r mother, is to i n h i b i t them through a fear of the outside world and a l l i t s v i c e s . The outside world i s to be denied. It represents motion and c r e a t i v -i t y , the giving of one's own thoughts and a b i l i t i e s to a creative f l u x i n which a determined selfhood i s possible. Time must remain s t a t i c , the pattern of days and seasons to be regulated by the demands of Caleb, and evolution is to be permanently arrested: E l l e n was l i k e a pea-pod that had ripened b r i t t l e , but could not burst open. Then he r e a l i z e d that he, too, was a closed pea-pod - they were a l l closed pea-pods, not daring to open.-*-3 Martin's moment of r e f l e c t i o n reveals something of the gross inhumanity of the system under which they are l i v i n g . A moment l a t e r Martin's "mind closed again", l i k e the pea-pod he has imagined, and his awareness i s swallowed up in the a r i d pattern of f r u i t l e s s n e s s in which h i s parents are confining him. Amelia sees quite c l e a r l y what she i s doing to her children in expiation of her sinfulness: She would see them dry and fade into f r u i t l e s s n e s s and grow old long before t h e i r time . . . and there would be no p i t y i n her for the destruction of t h e i r youth.14 The implacable Caleb's desires must be met. The fate of the children i s pre-destined owing to the nature of the compact she i s forced to make with Caleb, and the apparent i m p o s s i b i l i t y of changing the s i t u a t i o n . The c o n s t r i c t i n g power of Caleb and h i s knowledge of her g u i l t are s u f f i c i e n t to deny her children freedom and l i f e . The immediately apparent difference between Amelia and Caleb is one of an understanding of time. Amelia's notion of time is continuing. Her children's destiny is s t i l l in the future; her choice remains somewhat removed, and the intervening space can yet be f i l l e d with love, s u f f i c i e n t to cushion the e f f e c t s of t h e i r ultimate f a t e . Caleb, on the other hand, in thinking about h i s chil d r e n , uses the past tense. His children were" . . . twisted and gnarled and stunted as the growth on the bush land he owned, and barren as had been his acres.15 In h i s view, t h e i r destruction as l i f e impulses has been accomplished. The blank void of h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p with them can admit no love. He is merely a gaoler, omniscient and omnipotent, o f f e r i n g only labour as a r e l i e f from the tormenting desires to break free of the b r i t t l e pea-pods of t h e i r l i v e s . His r o l e is c e r t a i n l y a de n i a l of the popular concept of a pious and wholesome man and, i n considering t h i s , there arises a question to which a study of some of Ostenso's l a t e r novels may provide an answer. The question concerns Ostenso's own p o s i t i o n in terms of established r e l i g i o n . The Puritan re-appears a number of times in her work and, while i t may be true that the creation of l 4 o p . c i t . , 88. 1 5 o p . c i t . , 59. Caleb Gare is in response to a popular trend, the later portraits of the type reveal a depth of sympathetic handling denied to the parodic proto-type. He is in a l l ways too unequivocally negative in terms of religious ethics, while the descriptions of Amelia in the story admit of a warm flood of spiritual reassurance. Significant is the statement that "Amelia had been Roman Catholic before her marriage" which reveals what may be a v i t a l factor in any considera-tion of Martha Ostenso's works. Amelia's venial sin has placed her in the power of an unforgiving tyrant whom she identifies as a hypocrite, repeatedly, in the novel but i t i s , in actuality, her own sense of spiritual failure which permits the f u l l exploitation by Caleb. It is as though she has accepted the notion of guilt and understands the need to make some expiation. The suffer-ings of her children are identical with her own. In sacrificing them she is sacrificing herself, and in this way possibly reflects the feelings of the author concerning moral purgation and a need for the church i t s e l f to submit to a process of cleansing and re-building. Now in the power of a satanic master, the Gare family's plight is akin to that of the church, fallen upon e v i l days through loss of true leader-ship. The house is not their true home, as is shown by Martin's constant urge to build a New House, a replacement for the scene of humiliation and tyranny. A new and hopeful horizon presents i t s e l f to the family after Caleb, swallowed up by the earth, is symbolically cast into h e l l , accompanied by the licking tongues of f i r e . Fire is important in Wild Geese as a cleansing agent, removing Caleb and his baleful influence from Oeland and preparing the way for the erection of the New House amid the "profound silence, as i f somewhere a hand had been raised commanding r e v e r e n c e T h e f i r e has done a necessary work of p u r i f i c a t i o n and i t becomes a formulaic concern in Ostenso's other works. In Dark Dawn •I Q "Mons Torson had burned those willows out l a s t spring,' in an anguished attempt to purge h i s conscience, and in Stone F i e l d Phineas Baggott resorts to arson as a punishment for the s p o l i a t i n g lumber company. But the connection between f i r e and order goes ahead in a number of ways in the novels. Matt's daughter, Ruth, ignites her home as an act of vengeance against her husband, unaware that she is destroying both the scene of her unhappiness and the cause I waited t i l l I saw i t - l i k e a torch - l i k e an old straw stack - l i k e a furnace -l i k e h e l l ! 1 9 The pyre she has created, unwittingly, for her husband i s to become a source of h e l l for her when the f u l l circumstances are known by her a u t h o r i t a r i a n father. F i r e and damnation are complementary terms for the Puritan mind, and t h i s fact provides a source of wry amusement for Ostenso. I t is not unusual to encounter burned-out churches in her novels: She continued to gaze down the str e e t , down along the deep elm shadows to the end, where the charred r u i n of the F i r s t Methodist church stood.20 Again, in a l a t e r novel, as though an act of angry r e t r i b u t i o n needs to be recorded, Ostenso writes: There was no trace l e f t of the frame church that had stood here once, and had been struck by l i g h t n i n g and burned to the ground more than twenty years ago.21 op. c i t . , 238. 'The Dark Dawn, 75. (The Waters Under the Earth, 98. *op. c i t . , 13. 0 River, Remember!, 211. And Mark D a r r ' s method of des t roying h i m s e l f , when he decides to seek through death the peace which l i f e has denied him, i s by s e l f - i m m o l a t i o n . There are c e r t a i n i r o n i c aspects present in h i s d e c i s i o n to commit s u i c i d e i n the l o c a l church: . . . but at l a s t there came a rushing noise behind him and he knew the flames had mounted the s ta i rway. In another minute the b u i l d i n g would be a f laming torch l i g h t i n g the whole v i l l a g e . 2 2 This d e s t r u c t i v e f i r e balances the f i r e he made of h i s mother's mortal e f f e c t s at the beginning of the n o v e l , and i t bears a s trong symbolic r e l a t i o n s h i p to that i n c i d e n t . But the main a r t i s t i c value l i e s i n i t s p u r i f y i n g i n f l u e n c e upon h i s f a t h e r , leading to the regenerat ion of the Puri tan f i g u r e . The church f i r e represents not only the death of h i s son, whose philosophy of l i f e was a l i e n and myster ious , but the ashes of the church symbolize the consumption of h i s p r i d e , l e a v i n g him ready " t o r i s k the adventure of m o t i o n . " C a l e b ' s death is caused by f i r e . The threat to h i s beloved f l a x i s s u f f i c i e n t to lead him i n t o a v a i n contest with the forces of r e t r i b u t i o n . The f i r e has ambivalent values for the e n t i r e Gare f a m i l y , but i t s main e f f e c t is s i m i l a r to the thought which goes through the mind of Bess, f o l l o w i n g the news of the Minter f i r e , before she knows what has happened to Mark: What mattered i t that an o l d church had gone up i n flames? Somewhere she had read something about a strange b i r d that rose from i t s ashes stronger and more b e a u t i f u l than ever . It was a s i l l y s tory that bore no semblance of t r u t h , and yet i t had i t s meaning, i f she could but grasp and hold i t . 2 3 The "strange b i r d " , the phoenix, symbolic of regenerat ion and echoic of r e s u r r e c t i o n and r e - b i r t h represents hope for the Gares, too . The New House 2 2 A Man Had T a l l Sons, 333. 2 3 o p . c i t . , 337-8. i s t h e i r o p t i m i s t i c thrust into the future as Caleb's pattern of immobility disappears into the swamp with h i s mortal remains. Caleb's death breaks the s p e l l on the family and although E l l e n remains P u r i t a n i c a l l y severe, being both p h y s i c a l l y and s p i r i t u a l l y myopic, the others are freed of t h e i r penance and released " i n t o the endless r i s k s of thought." But there i s a suggestion that the simple p o r t r a i t of malignity has not been e n t i r e l y s a t i s f a c t o r y for Ostenso. Almost as though she has had a number of superstitious reservations about her own r o l e i n s a t i r i z i n g conven-t i o n a l Puritanism, she permits h e r s e l f to soften the outline occasionally. This i s apparent when "Caleb's head slipped down u n t i l h i s chin touched h i s chest" and the soft wind touched h i s hai r with "a gesture of i n f i n i t e p i t y . " The timid attempt to show sympathy for Caleb suggests that Ostenso i s hopeful of regeneration rather than destruction. The combination of age: You must not cross him or be cheeky to him, Jude. You know he's getting old . . . .25 and p e r i o d i c glimpses of the au t h o r i t a r i a n looking "most human and l i k a b l e 2 6 when he was l a t h e r i n g h i s face" or " h u s t l i n g the children j o v i a l l y into the wagon,"27 are recurrent aspects of Caleb, t y p i c a l of other Ostenso Puritans, and i n d i c a t i v e of her charitable desire to save them from damnation. Occasional acts of humanity, and apparent differences i n age are not nec e s s a r i l y q u a l i f i c a -tions for s a l v a t i o n , but they do admit shafts of sentiment that act as a r e l i e f in p o r t r a i t s of sombre s e v e r i t y . The age di f f e r e n c e between the tyrant and the others i n his immediate 2 4 W i l d Geese, 59. 25pp.cit., 38. 2 6 o p . c i t . , 35. 2 7 o p . c i t . , 226. c i r c l e always receives due mention by Ostenso. The two other main authority figures, Matt Welland i n The Waters Under the Earth and Luke Darr in A Man Had T a l l Sons, are both s i g n i f i c a n t l y older than the re s t of t h e i r f a m i l i e s . Matt's age i s always emphasized through Ostenso's d e s c r i p t i o n of him rather than through actual revelations of his age: . . . on h i s white, hollowed face there was not a glimmer of expression. Carla . . . thought that he was l i k e a dead c h i l d who had somehow aged a p p a l l i n g l y a f t e r he had died.28 Matt's appearance accentuates h i s p a t r i a r c h a l remoteness and the narrow s t u l t i f i c a t i o n of h i s r e l i g i o u s p o s i t i o n . His age provides him with an aura of protection behind which he i s paradoxically both weak and t y r a n n i c a l l y powerful, at one and the same time. The age of Luke Darr i s revealed in A Man Had T a l l Sons i n order to emphasize a d i s p a r i t y in age: In the rear seat of the gray Ford, Luke Darr, f i f t y - t w o , sat with h i s twenty-five-year-old bride . . . . 2 9 The paragraph continues with the information that he i s short, and there is a reminder that he had been both shorter and younger than h i s f i r s t wife. The other male tyrants, i n Ostenso's,novels, are also i n c l i n e d to be short, but whether t h e i r behaviour i s a r e s u l t of compensatory assertiveness is not made apparent. That they are ass e r t i v e there i s no doubt. Reference has already been made to Caleb's function as a "clock" in his family, and he shows that "by keeping supper w a i t i n g " 3 ^ he i s aware of the value of time and ceremony as a means of c o n t r o l l i n g others. Pre-occupation with routine i s shared by other ^°The Waters Under the Earth, 107. 2 9 A Man Had T a l l Sons, 10. 3 0 W i l d Geese, 12.. a u t h o r i t a r i a n s , p a r t i c u l a r l y Matt Welland, who f e l t that: . . . punctuality at meal time was an expression of respect for the family. It implied a considerateness for others which would leave i t s mark upon character. It was one of those good, old-fashioned, sound p r i n c i p l e s of s e l f - d i s c i p l i n e which people nowadays were f o r g e t t i n g , and with lamentable consequences. 3 Matt's concern for the inert form of an empty ceremony to which a l l must report on time i s not confined to mealtimes: Matt held uncompromisingly to the r u l e that the children should be at home, i f not in bed, by ten o'clock. There was no l o g i c a l excuse for t h e i r being out a f t e r that hour.32 Latecomers could expect a chastisement from the t i r e d , incredulous voice, and a reminder that "the clock doesn't l i e , my son, the clock doesn't l i e . " The f e e l i n g of g u i l t , the important factor in the Puritan's power over his family, requires constant c u l t i v a t i o n , and Matt succeeds by leaving "the c u l p r i t " f e e l -ing "desolate and f u t i l e , sensing something askew within himself." His victims are constrained by a combination of g u i l t and t h e i r own good nature, which allows them to accept h i s remonstrances without challenging him d i r e c t l y to h i s face: There was a timid l i g h t on h i s face that hurt something within her which had never been touched before. She could see a day when he would be out of touch with a l l r e a l i t y , when h i s strength would l i e in h i s appeal to t h e i r p i t y . In him was f i n a l i t y . And that f i n a l i t y of a l l l i f e was reaching out, inexorably, to gather them a l l i n . 3 3 Carla, the youngest daughter, enjoys an i n s u l a t i o n from the f u l l e f f e c t s of •The Waters Under the Earth, 38-9. op. c i t . , 64. op.c i t . , 243. Matt's petulant authoritarianism, but i s not unaware of the vortex which his c e n t r a l i t y represents. His denial of l i f e a f f e c t s h i s family i n a manner si m i l a r to that of a whirlpool upon objects within i t s influence. The closer they come to the centre, the more apparent i s the e f f e c t of the negating pattern. The centre i s a " f i n a l i t y " , a r e j e c t i o n of the vaster rhythms to which, l i k e Judith, Carla wishes to respond. She has her own fundamental sense of rhythm and m o b i l i t y which reaches far beyond the confining grasp of her father's possessive tyranny. Thus, she can sing:My soul to my God and my  body to the sea/And the dark blue waves a - r o l l i n g over me . . . 3 4 and avoid making an issue of her own philosophy. She prefers, rather, to skip around on the periphery of the family concerns, occupying h e r s e l f "with the adventure of motion". She senses her dif f e r e n c e in the way that Judith does and determines to turn her face b o l d l y outwards, away from the centre, tyrannized as i t is by time held in suspense over an abyss of o b l i v i o n . By turning away, Carla i s withdrawing from active p a r t i c i p a t i o n in Matt's regeneration. Her philosophy of l i f e i s , in a c t u a l i t y , the only one which could o f f e r hope to Matt. But i t i s a philosophy of self-determination which he would d i s t r u s t . Matt i s quite prepared to say that "Happiness i s the r e s u l t of wisdom" and the reader i s w i l l i n g to agree with him, but when he proceeds to t a l k about h i s father giving him: . . . what he considered adequate education to meet the demands of t h i s l i f e . Beyond that, he always contended, lay v i c i o u s prying into what was none of our business . . . then he loses the reader's sympathy, through h i s f a i l u r e to come to terms with the s i g n i f i c a n c e of what time i s . His expressionless gaze cannot understand • ^ o p . c i t . , 105. 3 5 0 p . c i t . , 58. anything of the pattern for which Carla is s t r i v i n g , and as a r e s u l t he i s t o t a l l y unaware of her eccentric motion; i t is completely beyond his apprehen-sio n . The "adequate education to meet the demands of . . . l i f e " confines him in a destructive myopia. The f l i t t i n g , fragmentary patterns made by the other children a f f e c t him only when they intrude d i r e c t l y upon h i s consciousness, admitting more l i g h t than he can comfortably stand. S p i r i t u a l and physical discomfort r e s u l t from any contact with a. genuine a r t i s t i c expression. In this regard Matt has something in common with other Puritan figures in the Ostenso novels. The creative process contravenes t h e i r sense of order and decorum, suggestive as i t is of i d o l a t r y and the making of graven images. Matt's treatment of Jenny's materials, a f t e r he has found her painting a nude study of Carla behind the woodshed, provides a clear enough example of the Puritan's c h a r a c t e r i s t i c response to the a r t i s t : Matt had come slowly around from behind the woodshed, his face white and l i f t e d against the p i t i l e s s sky, h i s hands clenched before him as though he were handcuffed. 3 6 The intensely dramatic behaviour, emphasizing h i s extreme d i s t a s t e for what he considers to be Jenny's e v i l f r i v o l i t y , culminates in a r i t u a l i s t i c burning of the painting materials: Then he had stood back, his face without a f l i c k e r of expression, and had watched the p i l e b u r n . 3 7 In destroying her painting materials, Matt has contributed to the e f f e c t i v e destruction of Jenny's i n d i v i d u a l v i t a l i t y . She "had never been the same a f t e r that," and her l a t e r espousal of painting on china i s a sorry substitute for what Matt has decided i s too s i n f u l to be allowed to continue. There are other painters in Ostenso novels, including Matt's brother F e l i x , Jason in 3 6 o p . c i t . , 42. 3 7 l o c . c i t . There's Always Another Year, and Ol i v e r Whittle in The Sunset Tree, but they are spared d i r e c t confrontation with P u r i t a n i c a l disapproval. There i s , however, a d i s t i n c t problem for the musically i n c l i n e d and there are at least four separate examples of P u r i t a n i c a l interference with them. Dorcas Gunther, in The Young May Moon, resents her daughter-in-law giving music lessons to the young c h i l d of a woman whom the town has decided " i s a case" and e f f e c t i v e l y discourages the c h i l d from coming again: In the distance, almost as far as Lundy's corner, a l i t t l e f igure was moving slowly down the st r e e t , the wind making a long pennant of a scarf that f l u t t e r e d from her neck. 4^ The disappearing figure has a symbolic value, i n that i t represents the l o s t musician motif that has a contrapuntal value in ce r t a i n Ostenso novels. Marcia, h e r s e l f , arouses the i r e of Dorcas Gunther who objects to the p r i n c i p l e of allow-ing secular music to be performed i n church. 4- 1 And i t is the playing by Mark Darr of "a p l a i n t i v e yet paganly wild a i r that Luke . . . always abominated" which causes h i s removal to the cabin, and is contributory to the chain of circumstances r e s u l t i n g in h i s t r a g i c death. The death, by burning, of Mark Darr r e c a l l s , too, the fate of the g i f t e d young v i o l i n i s t Freddie when h i s pa parents' home burns in Milk Route. Through the P u r i t a n i c a l machinations of Magdali Vinge in 0 River, Remember! the young teacher and musician, Kate Shaleen, is l o s t to the n o v e l . 4 4 The creative s p i r i t is to be denied i n 3 ^ E . K. Brown, "The Problem of a Canadian L i t e r a t u r e " , Masks of F i c t i o n , ed. A. J . M. Smith, (Toronto, 1961), 50. 39 The Young May Moon, 78. 4 Q o p . c i t . , 93. 4 1 o p . c i t . , 181. 4 2 A Man Had T a l l Sons, 60. 4 3 M i l k Route, 167. 4 4 0 River, Remember!, 208. whatever form i t i s encountered because i t defies s t r i c t control and Magdali's 45 "retreat to the moving leaf shadows as the r i v e r bank" at the approach of "old-Eiddler Luke" i l l u s t r a t e s the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c Puritan reac t i o n . Against a backdrop of less a c t i v e Puritanism, i n The White Reef, Ostenso allows young S i , with the " g i f t for music," to drown "on the Reef." The loss of the young musician, the i l l e g i t i m a t e c h i l d of Nona and Quentin, i s calculated to bring the parents together. This marks a movement into the l i g h t , where i n d i v i d u a l strengths and weaknesses can be evaluated, and a fresh purchase can be made upon l i f e . The r e t r e a t into the shadows i s the Puritan's method of obscuring the r e a l i t y of l i f e , in the way that Matt does when he states that his educa-t i o n has been adequate. He sc u t t l e s away from any opportunity of expanding his mind, p r e f e r r i n g the stagnant reaches of unctuous v i r t u e , from which he can draw a l l the wisdom necessary for himself and h i s family. His i l l u s i o n of s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y i s maintained for him by h i s family, who r e f r a i n from the task of d i s p e l l i n g i t , for a v a r i e t y of reasons, including p i t y for him and a sense also of t h e i r own inadequacies. Like Caleb, Matt is allowed to carry on his a f f a i r s , r e l a t i v e l y unhindered by d i r e c t confrontations. His wife explains: I might have succeeded myself, Carla, i f I had begun early enough to assert myself . . . . I hoped that things would somehow come out r i g h t a f t e r a l l . I thought my children would have i t in them to l i v e t h e i r l i v e s in s p i t e of every-thing. That was where I f a i l e d . 4 f t The f a i l u r e of the family members to assert themselves i n d i v i d u a l l y , and e n e r g e t i c a l l y demonstrate self-hood and dedication to l i f e can be posited as a very strong reason for Matt's lack of regeneration. His bl i n d descent into the the vortex, created for him by the narrow r e l i g i o n of h i s father, is permitted 4 5 o p . c i t . , 17 9. 4 6 T h e Waters Under the Earth, 287. by a family which i s possibly too conscious of his misguided nature and possess-ive love for them. His tyranny is not one of malign s e v e r i t y , such as Caleb's, but rather one of unwholesome f r u s t r a t i o n , which succeeds in blocking the natural outlet of most of h i s children and prevents his own f u l l development. Unlike Matt Welland, Luke Darr i s provided with the opportunity for regeneration, and a f t e r a great deal of torment " i s able to read Walt Whitman's l i n e s : Then we burst f o r t h , we f l o a t , / i n Time and Space 0 Soul''to discover the inseparableness of God and L i f e . The circumstances of Luke's regeneration owe much to the d i f f e r e n c e between his family and that of Matt. For a s t a r t , Luke re-marries, as the novel opens, a f t e r having been widowed for a short time. His reasons for re-marrying so quickly are connected with h i s desire to r e a l i z e c e r t a i n aspects of sovereign-ty which had been denied him in h i s f i r s t marriage. Agatha, who "had been A O older than he by almost f i v e years, and noticeably t a l l e r " , represented some-thing of a tyrant in Luke's mind. He had a d i s t i n c t f e e l i n g of deprivation, beginning with h i s f r u s t r a t e d ambition of entering the m i n i s t r y 4 9 and his lack of any "sense of proprietorship", e i t h e r in the land, which her father had l e f t her, or in the upbringing of t h e i r three sons: We burst forth - that was i t ! A brighter l i g h t than he had ever known broke over Luke, d i s p e l l i n g a l l darkness. 4 7 . . . to say that Agatha had given him sons would be l i t t l e more than a manner of speaking. She had given him sons and had taken them away. 50 47 A Man Had T a l l Sons, 367. 48 o p . c i t . , 12. op.cit 13. Agatha's function is to bring about Luke's regeneration and this becomes possible only through the withholding of his sons, until they can offer bold patterns to him, and through her own death, which allows him to assume a greater stature. It is almost as though he is being permitted to undergo his test after having been protected for a number of years. His main struggle is with himself. In Luke's estimation Agatha had "few religious convictions of her own"^ ''' and in his Puritanical isolation he has developed a disabling self-righteousness which must be overcome before effective integration can occur. His increase in stature begins with his marriage to the diminutive Bess, so much his junior in age, and with the knowledge that he now has complete control over the property. "Down the years he had felt himself somewhat less a man every time he had to go to his wife on a question that had .in any way to do with the placid acres upon 52 which he lavished his vigor that they might bear f r u i t . " Sovereignty is not to be easy for Luke because of his belief that i t entails the automatic recogni-tion of his patriarchal authority in a family which has flourished in a manner quite eccentric to his own narrow concept of l i f e . His three sons are Agatha's gift to him, in spite of his petulant belief that she has withdrawn them from him completely. It was rather that she had intended him to obtain a perspective upon humanity which would allow him to recognize the fact that there can be no uniform type of man. The individuality of each son has to be recognized, and the a r t i s t i c device of posing them as large men, in comparison with the father, is particularly effective because i t permits credible relationships to be observed between their physical size and the exaggerated characteristic each one represents. Luke is able to discern that differences do exist between his sons, and in his Puritanical way finds 51 op.cit., 27. as much to deplore as to applaud. Three broad categories are represented by the sons. The eldest, John, i s patently an Olympian. He "had always faced l i f e s e r i o u s l y " and had never given h i s father "a troubled moment" in regard to h i s conduct. His function in the novel i s to r e f l e c t cool, r a t i o n a l attitudes while maintaining sweeping perspectives, and a respect for the d i g n i t y of h i s fellow human beings. The second son, Matt, approximates to the idea of the Dionysian and, because l i f e for him i s a series of spontaneous pleasures, Luke's e f f o r t s to obtain sovereignty often dwindle into defeat. A f t e r Matt has spent the night with a woman in town, Luke attempts to chastise him v e r b a l l y as a "drunkard - a f o r n i c a t o r - a b l a c k g u a r d , " 5 4 and when the matter becomes an issue of daring to show his face in the house, Luke receives a reminder that his P u r i t a n i c a l concept of the authority f i g u r e is not f i n d i n g general acceptance. Matt t e l l s him sharply: . . . don't get any f o o l i s h ideas . . . l i t t l e man. This i s where I belong, and t h i s i s where I'm staying. C l e a r l y , Luke is not impressing h i s own pattern on Matt, whose function in the novel is that of a rough diamond. Luke himself has to recognize the many q u a l i t i e s of good-natured dependability in h i s wayward son and he learns eventually to understand that "Matt in h i s escapades grasping for any s h i e l d against h i s l o n e l i n e s s " is symbolic of the human predicament, the " i n e f f a b l e fear of being forever done." Luke's t h i r d son, Mark, represents the a r t i s t , the " l o s t musician," in terms of his r o l e in the novel, and he becomes the t h i r d 53 54 55 o p . c i t . , 28 'op. c i t . , 120. op. c i t . , 121. 'op. c i t . , 365. part of the t o t a l pattern that Luke must begin to comprehend before h i s regeneration can commence. Mark maintains an agonized f i d e l i t y to the memory of his mother, and through h i s unswerving desire to perpetuate her memory and influence he arouses the wrath of his father who senses i n h i s behaviour a contempt for the P u r i t a n i -c a l c e n t r a l i t y he so much desires. Mark i s the only son to a c t i v e l y despise Luke and i t is not because he i s ungenerous, but merely because he recognizes the extent of his father's lack of integration and the depth of h i s delusion. The test for Luke includes a serious examination of h i s pride, which has grown round a " v i s i o n " of r e b u i l d i n g the Minter church. It is the f a m i l i a r Ostenso dream of the New House but i t i s to be a monument to Luke as much as a house of God: He had set himself to lead the way toward b u i l d i n g a new church, an ambition that bore the t a i n t of vanity . . . .^ 7 There i s a lesson for Luke i n the fact that h i s enthusiasm for the b u i l d i n g of a new church f a i l s to impress the other members of the board, and he is forced to accept the bitt e r n e s s of defeat i n his plan for self-aggrandizement: It couldn't have gone worse. . . . They were a l l against me. I'm l i c k e d , And I have only myself to blame.-*8 It is at th i s point that Luke's power of perception expands to the point where he can see himself c l e a r l y , bereft of his v i s i o n , and r e a l i z e s that "a man has 5 9 to be whole to be a man at a l l . " He is beginning to recognize the lack of integration, but i s not yet able to put the puzzle together. He does know that o p . c i t . , 299. op. c i t . , 325. op. c i t . , 326. Mark is somehow connected with his feeling of incompleteness: I've wanted to go to him a thousand times and t e l l him I was wrong. But I've been too proud, too f u l l of my own conceit to go to him. And now he has turned his back on me. Sometimes I feel as i f God himself 60 has turned his back on me. The connection between Mark and God indicates a new departure for Luke. His vision of a New House for God has blinded him to the rea l i t i e s of the spiritual needs of his own family, the true abode of God. It has taken the humiliating experience of rejection by the board to open his eyes to the fact that he has been rejecting his family, and the pattern of integration so necessary for him. But his eventual regeneration is going to demand a complete self-examination and destruction of the edifice of pride, the false structure he has built, and which he had once f e l t was the measure of God's faithful servants. Luke's false vision is consumed by the f i r e which destroys Minter church. It bears away the soul of Mark who, in the ashes of his mortal remains, provides his father with the basis of the true vision he has lacked. Mark's death, ironically, makes the new church necessary, but Luke's part in the rebuilding can never be what he had once imagined. God and Life have moved into the unity which Luke's Puritanical prejudice has so long denied. The 61 primitive understanding of God so clear to Mark is Agatha's chief g i f t to Luke, the most precious because i t is l i f e i t s e l f : A l l at once the very air about him seemed to expand, the enclosing walls to move outward and away into limitless space. Life's brief hour blended into eternity.** 2 Luke has been more fortunate than Caleb or Matt Welland. The dark heritage of 6 0 l o c . c i t . 6 1A Man Had T a l l S o ns, 83. Puritanical immobility has been exposed to a strong, relentless light which, as though by photo-synthesis, has forced the dormant seed to grow and seek the purer regions where the creative s p i r i t may flourish. Chapter Four The Plot Phantasm C h a r a c t e r i s t i c patterns i n Ostenso's w r i t i n g are revealed frequently through her concept of plot structure. Her s t y l i s t i c preferences appear to lean heavily upon p a r t i c u l a r combinations of events and characters, suggesting that possibly her v i s i o n could not achieve complete l i b e r a t i o n from factors dominating her own l i f e and thought. The Puritan motif can be detected as a contrapuntal device, both as a major feature, as in The Waters Under the Earth  or A Man Had T a l l Sons, for example, or as a pervasive undercurrent, as in The Young May Moon. The presence of Puritanism, i n so many of her works, indicates a pre-occupation stemming, no doubt, from her own background and r e l i g i o u s upbringing. A feature of her novels, such as the recurrent bank manager, who is an economic tyrant, unfeeling as the Puritan God, may also indicate biographical p o s s i b i l i t i e s which must remain co n j e c t u r a l . The same thing must be true of the banker's daughter, who appears several times. She i s in v a r i a b l y impractical and treacherous, but her treachery i s always instrumental i n achiev-ing the sentimental integration of the p l o t . While i t i s true that r e l i g i o n , money, and human r e l a t i o n s h i p s are f a m i l i a r factors i n l i t e r a t u r e , Ostenso's r e l i a n c e upon stock figures to i l l u s t r a t e something of her own views upon those matters reveals, perhaps, some of her l i m i t a t i o n s as a n o v e l i s t . The reader i s usually a l e r t e d quite e a r l y in the story and the eventual outcome is no great surprise: Corinne had pouted p r e t t i l y over her own ignorance concerning a l l farm l o r e , and Roddy, t i c k l e d , indulgent, had laughed. Sophronia . . . would never forget how Corinne's eyes had roamed over the place, scanning the f l o o r s , the wal l s , the f u r n i t u r e . ^ There's Always Another Year, 15. There is no doubt that Corinne Meader is never going to be sincerely reconciled to l i f e in a farm house. But, besides the inevitable characteristics of the stock figures, and the generally predictable conclusions to her stores, there is another device upon which Ostenso leans quite heavily. She demonstrates extreme dependence upon the generation of an atmosphere of dread, arising from the possibility that retribution of some kind w i l l follow the disclosure of a closely guarded secret. Usually, social disgrace is the basis of the fear. In her f i r s t novel she achieves resolution through the f i r e , the cause of Caleb's death when trying to save his beloved flax f i e l d . The tyrant's death permits an easing of the tension, equivalent to a dramatic change in the weather, after a period of sultry oppression. The dominant tone becomes one of placid calm,keyed to the change of season. The Oeland farm i t s e l f reflects "the languid peace of Indian summer." References to Amelia's serenity set the tone and indicate that the ogres of fear have been put to fli g h t . The f i r e has been a cleansing agent in several ways, but its prime achievement has been the dispersal of Amelia's fear of Caleb and the phantasm of moral censure, which' she has fabricated from his constant threats concerning her part. A certain ambiguity must be admitted in assessing the f u l l effects of the f i r e at Oeland. After a l l , a human l i f e was lost, but the resolution of the plot, through the action of the f i r e , brings abundant dividends. It can be said that the f i r e functions in Wild Geese as financial ruin does in other stories by Martha Ostenso. In the same way that benefits are predicated upon the fi r e in Wild  Geese, so might i t be said that the collapse of the family fortune in The Mad  Carews succeeds in establishing the basis of a happy relationship for Elsa and Bayliss. They participate in the financial disaster of the Carew family, but i t is in their decision to flout the tradition of going "from disaster to new success," that they indicate possession of a personal i n t e g r i t y not shared with the other members of the family. S i m i l a r l y , the H i l y a r d fortunes decline in The Stone F i e l d , and i t is again a matter of achieving serenity, through an a b i l i t y to discern the true values in l i f e , which allows Jo Porte to p r o f f e r the i n e v i t a b l e consolation to Royce, when he s i t s alone in the Stone F i e l d with "eyes steadfast and burningly c l e a r " . 4 His integration i s possible because, l i k e Bayliss Carew, he has allowed the f i n a n c i a l d i s a s t e r to act as a purging influence, revealing to him the extent of his fundamental commitment to the land. He manages also to r i d himself of h i s wife Teresa, the banker's daughter, leaving the way clear for the union anticipated when " . . . for the b r i e f moment while he stood and looked at her i t was i f only two people were there in the l i v i n g room.""' Resolution of the p l o t through the use of a d i s a s t e r as a ca t a l y s t i s seen again in Prologue to Love. The concept of f i d e l i t y to a natural l i f e i s manifest in this novel, as i t is elsewhere in Ostenso's work. Autumn Dean i s thwarted in her desire to remain on her father's ranch, u n t i l the old man i s k i l l e d in an accident with a f l o c k of sheep.^ Through her father's death, the daughter i s able to i d e n t i f y completely with the land, free of the spectre which has threatened to drive her away. Again, in The White  Reef i t is f i n a n c i a l r u i n which l i e s behind the movement to integration but, in addition,a ser i e s of natural disasters aid the hero to come to that degree of serenity concomitant with regeneration. The impoverishment of the Wingates i s the i n i t i a l factor instrumental in Quentin's struggle for integ r a t i o n . The tension i n the story arises from his determination to overcome h i s physical and moral cowardice, and to a r r i v e 3The Mad Carews, 339. 4The Stone F i e l d , 310. ^ o p . c i t . , 45. at the knowledge that "a man can never be shaken from the purpose that was written alongside h i s name when he came into the world." 7 The spectre or phantasm a f f l i c t i n g Quentin Wingate is nothing l i k e the fear which haunts Amelia, and he i s able to achieve a certain balance in reviewing his d i f f i c u l -t i e s . He can perceive: . . . that a l l around him he was f i g h t i n g shadows: a shadow in Eunice, who was an unguessable threat; a shadow i n Nora, whom he loved i n spite of her cold contempt for him; a shadow i n the drowned boy whom he had never seen; a shadow in the inimi c a l ' Cove . . . . 8 His ultimate success in dealing with the shadows i s c l o s e l y connected with his desire to i d e n t i f y with the Cove once again, and to make r e s t i t u t i o n to the g i r l he had wronged seven years before. As in The Stone F i e l d , a r i c h and highly-sexed wife i s rejected as part of the regenerative process. The extent of Quentin's serenity i s apparent to h i s s i s t e r , Nancy, who summarizes some of the mishaps which have marked h i s stay in the Gove: . . . i t ' s strange. F i r s t your boat goes on the rocks -then your house burns to the ground - and you probably haven't a penny in your pocket! Nevertheless you act as i f i t didn't matter a b i t . 9 The climate has undergone a change for him as i t so often does for the major figures i n Ostenso's novels. The regenerative force i s associated with a p a r t i c u l a r place, in this case the Cove, and i t emphasizes Quentin's a b i l i t y to harmonize with his environment. In other novels, such as Love Passed This Way, The Sunset Tree, and There's Always Another Year, there is a si m i l a r dependence upon the therapeutic properties of s p e c i f i c locations in the di s p e r s a l of phantasms a f f e c t i n g the l i v e s of Ostenso's characters. 'Martha Ostenso, The White Reef, (New York, 1934), 287. 8 o p . c i t . , 234. 9 o p . c i t . , 250. A prime example of the connection, between a character's phantasm and a p a r t i c u l a r place, e x i s t s in the story of M i n e l l a Hanks in Love Passed  This Way. The renewal of her connections with the environment she knew as a c h i l d acts very p o s i t i v e l y upon her sense of perspective, helping to create a climate conducive to the eventual discovery of her father's innocence. The s e l f - t o r t u r e , which she endures for so many years, i s reminiscent of the d i f f i c u l t i e s which Esther Clarke experiences i n adjusting to l i f e following the death of her father. Esther's response, to circumstances in The Sunset  Tree, i s one of callous s e l f - i n t e r e s t . Her f i r s t love Danny O'Rourke disengages himself when he r e a l i z e s the seriousness of her adolescent regard and warns her "he was a rover and couldn't be depended upon in anything touching the heart."1^ Consequently, she assumes the r o l e of a shallow coquette, following a path studded with i l l i c i t amours and frequent tragedies. In time she makes a successful marriage, but i s widowed with a grown-up daughter when the story opens. Pressures s i m i l a r to those a f f e c t i n g Amelia i n Wild Geese help to d i r e c t Esther's philosophy. She is determined that the story of her previous l i f e w i l l be kept from her daughter, E l l e n . Because of t h i s determination i t is when her brother makes per i o d i c v i s i t s that "her nerves were stripped raw with fear that in h i s whimsical cups he might reveal . . . some juncture of her . . . p a s t " 1 1 to her daughter. The therapeutic outcome of a v i s i t to her old hometown is probably greatly exaggerated, but i t appears to be responsible for the d i s p e r s a l of the phantasm generated by her daughter's desire to marry the son of one of the men from her past. * Encouraged by a painter f r i e n d , I o she puts the phantasm to f l i g h t by deciding to face the matter b o l d l y , a f t e r 1 0Martha Ostenso, The Sunset Tree, (New York, 1949), 18. 11 I O C 12 13 op. c i t 'op. c i t realizing "that a l l the world may change about us, but somewhere down inside back to the state of natural innocence, and in doing so to retrieve something of lasting value, a source of strength with which to begin the task of relating the actual to the ideal. Something of that nature lies behind the story of Silver Grenoble in There's Always Another Year. She returns to the farm after living an a r t i f i c i a l l i f e in Chicago with her gambler father. In her complete involvement with the land and the weather she finds a source of wholesome pleasure. The rain sorely needed by the land "washed away a l l drought and hunger and defeat; i t washed a l l error from the human heart and wrong thinking from the human mind."15 The environment makes her over, and the banishment of the phantasm which a f f l i c t s Roddy is implicit in the "rainbow above the land" which she sees "across his shoulder."1*' There is a reassuring note of optimism in the conclusion to There's  Always Another Year, as there is in the majority of Ostenso's novels; but there is l i t t l e doubt that, in the stories cited so far, the adverse conditions could return, in spite of the assurance that an apparent solution is achieved at the point in time where the story ends. For example, Amelia's fears could conceivably return again, even though Caleb is no more. He only seems to be the key to her unhappiness. The knowledge which she wishes to conceal could s t i l l become public property at some future date; the only factor missing w i l l be Caleb and his reasons for torturing her with threats of public shame. For the purposes of the plot, the solution appears to be satisfactory, but in terms of the vast f i e l d of speculation, which exists after a conflict has been t i d i l y us we remain the same. nl4 The thesis is that i t is possible to make the journey 14, op.cit., 250. 15, 'There' s Always Another Year, 265. resolved, the p o t e n t i a l psychological factors can quite e a s i l y p e r s i s t and become even more acute. Nevertheless, i t i s the l i f e within the novel which i s of immediate concern, and the temptation to speculate must be suppressed, even though i t develops from a candid appraisal of some contrived aspects of Ostenso's p l o t s . The author i s dealing with the immediate present and t h i s fact gives p a r t i c u l a r relevance to David Welland's s o l i l o q u y concerning h i s marriage to the termagent Seena, whose wedding portion "has been keeping the Wellands alive."''' 7 Her dowry has been absorbed by the a i l i n g p r i n t i n g business, which David struggles to keep solvent, in order that the e n t i r e family may l i v e . Enslaved both to the shrew and the floundering business, David begins to r e a l i z e that he has surrendered his autonomy through h i s i n a b i l i t y to break the pattern of thought which has dictated h i s conscious l i f e : I n e r t i a - by God! A s i n i s t e r i n e r t i a bred i n the bone, and fostered through a childhood of fear of r e a l i t y , of reverence for the phantasms of caution and r e s p e c t a b i l i t y . 1 8 The Puritan heritage becomes clear to h i s understanding, but he knows that i t w i l l continue to manacle him to h i s unenviable p o s i t i o n . His recognition of the flaw provides a convenient insight into the s p i r i t u a l p a r a l y s i s a f f l i c t i n g so many of Ostenso's characters. David's f a i l u r e to take a d e c i s i v e step in the matter of h i s miserable marriage, or his father's bungling interference with the p r i n t i n g business, is a s i t u a t i o n that becomes f a m i l i a r i n Ostenso's novels. It i s c e r t a i n l y true of Wild Geese and echoes of i t s use as a l i t e r a r y device continue through the years, but on a s i g n i f i c a n t l y diminishing scale. In The Dark Dawn Lucian r e a l i z e s , when thinking about Hattie, that: The Waters Under the Earth, 76. . . . after four years of liv i n g with her, every thought of her made him feel contemptibly her inferior. A mere gesture on her part, a look of the eye, could humiliate him exquisitely.19 Like David Welland, he is hoist with his own petard in that he has chosen for a wife a woman he has grown to hate and is obliged to follow a way of l i f e that has become repugnant to him. As late as 0 River, Remember! Ivar Vinge reflects how: . . . the familiar heart-hunger had struck him like an obscure pain that would not be s t i l l e d . But Magdali had brought him to see the foolishness of that.20 For both of these characters, the twin phantasms of caution and respectability shape the moment, and successfully block off aspiration and hope. Eventually, the philosophic poise of Ivar transcends his marital problems in a way quite impossible for Lucian Dorrit. A dominant theme becomes a minor chord, but i t is not suggested that Ostenso decides against examining resentful inactivity as a valid example of human behaviour. It might rather be said that the eventual goal, the achievement of spiritual integration, represents a more desirable literary concern, as can be seen in A Man Had T a l l Sons. The effect of Luke Darr's tyranny is so vastly different from Caleb Gare's because Luke is intent upon achieving family unity through a definable love, rather than through the generation of a cloud of menace. The fear which Caleb keeps alive in Amelia's mind must remain essentially vague, to equate in formlessness with Caleb's weapon of tyranny. He uses the phantasm of respectability as a spiritual whip to scourge his wife and family into complying with his e v i l design. Luke, on the other hand, employs his understanding of respectability as a precept, rather than a goad, l^The Dark Dawn, 185. 2 00 River, Remember!, 179. and eventually attains knowledge of its true meaning as a basis for effective human intercourse. With Caleb, human relationships are of concern only in so far as they w i l l yield him more control over other people. His interest is to entangle others in an insidious web, similar to the one which holds David Welland in sullen immobility. The "childhood fear of reality, of reverence for the phantasms of caution and respectability," which David diagnoses as the cause of his tormented inactivity, operates in favour of Caleb and is responsible for the power -he wields in Oeland. In a manner • which becomes familiar, the phant-asms inhibit their victims, defeating their dreams while substituting, especi-a l l y in the earlier novels, emotional or economic nightmares, which assume the formless identity of clouds of retribution. These clouds expand to f i l l the void created when rational processes are suspended and chaos displaces order. The preservation of the seeming order of Oeland, the maintenance of the status quo, is Amelia's immediate way of dealing with her phantasm of fear that chaos w i l l enter the lives of her children and herself. Thoughts of the phantasm prevent her from exercising a. rational approach to Caleb's threats. She does not appear to have considered the f u l l implications of Caleb's weapon of retribution. The threat to the happiness of her illegitimate son, and the marriage prospects of her daughters, traps her in the web of inertia. Ostenso's account of Amelia's " l i t t l e folly" 2-'- seems credible enough, but i t requires an effort of imagination to come to any kind of understanding of Caleb's behaviour, even though a certain air of verisimilitude cloaks the situation at Oeland. Moral attitudes are invariably censorious, and i t is not at a l l unreasonable to suppose, that Ostenso feels that Amelia's secret is a viable factor in her plot structure; but how long i t could remain stable in a r e a l i s t i c setting is certainly arguable. It is true that, in a conventional sense, Amelia could be cri t i c i z e d for her i n i t i a l moral lapse, and the illegitimate birth, and should, quite rightly, be haunted by guilt; however, the concept of guilt is not a powerful element in Amelia's mind, in spite of what Caleb likes to think. His reliance upon Puritanical mores is blunted by the fact that Amelia's s p i r i t 22 has "ever eluded him." In cleaving to the memory of her f i r s t lover, she saves herself from the extremes of spiritual desolation and, paradoxically, i t is Amelia's love which emerges as Caleb's major support. Her reverence for the memory of Mark Jordan's father ensures her obedience to Caleb, because respectability seems to be so necessary for the professional well-being of her f i r s t son, and ultimately the social acceptability of her daughters. The vague, intangible power of public opinion and its malign influence upon the future lives of innocent persons is the real phantasm in this story. It is a Pandora's Box, wholly ambivalent for Caleb, and one which he does not desire to open, because he has some understanding of the likely result i f his perfid-ious threat were to be executed. He is shrewd enough to know that events "would run along smoothly only as long as he kept a balance of contrariness" and continues in the part of the arbitrary Puritan authority figure. It is precisely an understanding of either latent or active Puritan-ism, as the negating influence in a remote community, upon which Ostenso is relying in delineating the situation in Oeland. It supports the concept of a spiritual hiatus in the lives of the reprobate members of a group, because i t is essentially a mood of brooding isolation which assists Caleb's designs. Amelia's co-operation is assured by Caleb's provision of "assiduous reporting" z z l o c . c i t . 2 3Wild Geese, 172. by the veterinary surgeon, "in the town where Caleb is unable to do his own spying." 2 4 The constant reminder that he is capable of ini t i a t i n g a move which could jeopardize Mark Jordan's career secures Amelia's compliance for Caleb. The phantasm, the spectre generated by Caleb's threats, widens the break in normal existence and contributes to the pattern of sombre alienation where the "adventure of motion" is s t i l l e d into that spiritless inertia of which David Welland complains. If i t were possible to ignore the phantasm, then l i f e would be vastly different, but the polarities of order and chaos are fundamental to human understanding. They assist in channelling the mind into back-waters of stagnant inactivity where the expedient choice appears to produce an ill u s i o n of order. In remaining s t i l l , the victim feel that chaos is held in check; inactivity and order become synonymous concepts and the phantasm, though not dispelled, is kept at bay. The major threat to security appears, then, to reside in the kind of false move which could upset the balance and, through disrupting order, could precipitate chaos into the l i f e of the victim, and the objects of his love. Although Amelia receives the maximum attention as the victim of a phantasm, i t must not be overlooked that other characters in Wild Geese are also afflicted by spectres of their own, or Caleb's, devising. Fusi Aronson is placed upon a spiritual wrack when Caleb reveals that the big Icelander's 25 brother has been embezzling church funds. Caleb's purpose in te l l i n g Fusi is to blackmail him into a land deal, through which Caleb exchanges the "bottomless and foul . . . muskeg" for "the neck of timber held by Fusi Aronson." The spectre of family disgrace in the community is adequate to 24 25 'op. c i t . 'op. c i t . ensure s u c c e s s f u l completion of the deal for Caleb, but a c e r t a i n irony can be detected i n the fact that i t i s the muskeg which claims him i n the end, when 27 he attempts to f i g h t the f i r e that r e s u l t s from F u s i ' s wil low b u r n i n g . L i k e 28 a drowning man Caleb sees "images . . . pass before him" of people he has v i c t i m i z e d i n Oeland. He knows that F u s i w i l l der ive some s a t i s f a c t i o n from h i s death, and has a sardonic p i c t u r e of "Thorvaldson, r e j o i c i n g when he heard of what had happened to h i m . " Thorvaldson, another target of Caleb 's malign c u p i d i t y , has been forced to s e l l a h a l f - s e c t i o n of land to prevent the O Q consequences of the Bjarnassons l e a r n i n g that he has f i s h e d i n the l a k e . In seeing "the ax buried i n the r o t t e n wood of the barn w a l l " Caleb r e c a l l s J u d i t h ' s a b o r t i v e a t tack upon him, and the phantasm of l e g a l proceedings which would lead to her being, sent to "a place where you were confined to a t i n y c e l l 31 and never saw the sky, or f e l t the w i n d . " To J u d i t h , l i k e the others , the phantasm becomes a v i v i d evocat ion of how fragmentation can a f f e c t current e x i s -tence through sending r a t i o n a l i t y f l y i n g into a v o i d , whose main c h a r a c t e r i s t i c i s f e a r . T h i s device of major and minor emphases can be seen i n other works by Ostenso, and the problems that a f f l i c t Ruth Welland, i n The Waters Under the  E a r t h , provide a c lear enough example. Ruth i s obl iged to acknowledge a spectre s i m i l a r to the one which o n haunts J u d i t h as a r e s u l t of the episode i n the b a r n . Fol lowing the act of 27 28 o p . c i t . , 237 29 30 31 > 'op. c i t -'op. c i t 'op. c i t , op. c i t , t 'op. c i t incendiarism, through which her husband dies, Ruth has been l i v i n g i n her parent's home, subject to Matt's s u r v e i l l a n c e and frustrated i n her aspirations to achieve an independent l i f e . When she meets Andrew, who works in a shoe store, there i s a d i s t i n c t p o s s i b i l i t y that the happy sol u t i o n to her problems can be found through marriage to him. But in spite of Andrew's apparent whole-someness, he f a i l s to receive Matt Welland's approval, and there i s recourse to a ploy which Matt uses unsuccessfully when the f u l l d e t a i l s of the f i r e are discovered. He t e l l s h i s daughter that she must "go to the marshall" or he w i l l be brought to the house. Recognizing the f u l l implications of such a move, Ruth responds with a counter-phantasm, for which her father is unprepared. " A l l r i g h t - I ' l l go. I ' l l have that - d i s t i n c t i o n - anyway." It was an unusual word for the simple spoken Ruth. " I ' l l be the f i r s t of the Wellands in j a i l . " 3 3 Her choice of expression proves to be eminently su i t a b l e for the occasion, and succeeds i n suppressing Matt's l e g a l scruples. Matt discovers an extremely s e n s i t i v e spot on the surface of r e s p e c t a b i l i t y and withdraws from an unequal contest. But h i s obsession with s i n and r e s t i t u t i o n w i l l not allow the matter to fade from h i s memory, and he holds the balance with h i s knowledge of Ruth's complicity: It was curious, she thought d u l l y , seated with her hands in her lap, that Matt could so conveniently juggle with ghosts, laying them or r e s u r r e c t i n g them as he saw fit.34 Ruth's quandary, l i k e her brother David's, defies s o l u t i o n on the surface l e v e l . Caught i n the t o i l s of i n e r t i a they both r e f r a i n from boldly confronting t h e i r problems and s i m p l i f y i n g t h e i r d i f f i c u l t i e s through candid evaluation. Instead, they permit circumstances to lure them into patently unsatisfactory sexual The Waters Under the Earth, 112. ^op.cit., 251-2. solutions. Ruth becomes Andrew's mistress, and David is drawn into the embraces of Adeline Greenleaf, who "came toward him swinging her s i l k y and aggressive hips" while "one hand caressed a marcelled puff of her h a i r . " The sexual g r a t i f i c a t i o n which David and Ruth obtain through these i l l i c i t means can lead, only to a complication of t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l phantasms, although there i s a p o s s i b i l i t y that the very complexity could a s s i s t in the development of s e l f - c r i t i c a l f a c u l t i e s . David i s able to a r t i c u l a t e h i s state, but the burden of r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s w i l l continue to subject him to the twin "phantasms of caution and r e s p e c t a b i l i t y . " Ruth can wait " f o r father to d i e , " but even then there i s some doubt i m p l i c i t i n the book that she w i l l ever a c t u a l l y marry Andrew. The i n e r t i a , to which she has become accustomed, appears at times to have perverted her judgment to the point where she develops phantasms that c l u t t e r her view of even the more p o s i t i v e aspects of her r e l a t i o n s h i p with Andrew. She has, l i k e Matt, the a b i l i t y to "juggle with ghosts," having a marked p r e d i l e c t i o n for " r e s u r r e c t i n g them." Rather l i k e E l l e n of Wild Geese, she i s a p o t e n t i a l champion of her father and i s l i k e l y to respond "with secret i n d i g n a t i o n " 3 8 to c r i t i c i s m of him from other members of the family. A f f e c t i o n for a parent and circumstances which produce an emotional resur r e c t i o n of a phantasm are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , too, of Prologue to Love. S i m i l a r l y to Wild Geese and The Waters Under the Earth, the basic causes reside in events of the past. Again, the spectre of g u i l t looms up large, and out of a l l proportion, and l i k e Love Passed This Way there i s extreme dependence placed by the author upon the transfer of g u i l t from the parent to the c h i l d . The 35 op . c i t . , 278. 36 37 o p . c i t . , 171. op.cit., 298. ramifications of the phantasm demand a kind of l o y a l t y , which e f f e c t i v e l y blocks the way to l u c i d thinking, on the part of the heroine, u n t i l the end of the book. In Prologue to Love, Autumn Dean's return to the B. C. I n t e r i o r from a prolonged stay i n Europe, and her subsequent involvement with Bruce Landor, lead to circumstances where the assumption of the phantasm, by the g i r l , threatens the love a f f a i r with d i s a s t e r . Her father i s haunted by the recriminating spectres emanating from h i s complicity in the death of Bruce's father. The events, the accidental death of Landor and the death by fever of Autumn's mother, occurred twenty years e a r l i e r , but the knowledge that he has concealed d e t a i l s of the accident continues to disturb J a r v i s Dean's composure: It was not enough for him that he robbed me of my wife's love. He l a i d upon me the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of his own death. I have never recovered from that, Autumn, I have borne i t a l l these years in secret. And now you t e l l me you want to marry the son of the man. It w i l l k i l l me.39 Autumn finds i t d i f f i c u l t to synthesize matters unemotionally and allows her sense of f i l i a l a l l egiance to take precedence over her a f f e c t i o n for Bruce. The usual state of anguished i n e r t i a keeps the lovers apart u n t i l J a r v i s dies, a f t e r which the phantasm disperses, and the two families are f i n a l l y united through the c h i l d r e n . The phantasm of g u i l t a r i s i n g from the death of another person i s a device employed elsewhere by Ostenso. In The Young May Moon and Love Passed This Way key figures are obliged to suff e r lengthy periods of d i s t r e s s , on account of t h e i r assumption of moral r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for the deaths of other people. Marcia Gunther's husband drowns himself and, in so doing, condemns her to a protracted period of self-condemnation, dominated by the spectre of Prologue to Love, 107. g u i l t y r e s p o n s i b i l i t y in which "fear persecuted h e r . " 4 ^ There are sexual over-tones to Marcia's d i f f i c u l t i e s , reminiscent of The Mandrake Root, where the burden of g u i l t develops from the adultery between Lydie and E r i c . Marcia Gunther's reproaches to her husband R o l f include a threat to e s t a b l i s h an extra m a r i t a l l i a i s o n with another man. Rolf is so overcome with despair that he ends h i s l i f e , leaving Marcia a legacy of remorse u n t i l such time as she can "get free at l a s t from . . . damned flimsy ghosts. " 4 1 The phantasm of self-accusation does not overly disturb Lydie Clarence, in The Mandrake Root, even though her behaviour has such far-reaching r e s u l t s for two other people in the story, her husband, Andrew, and her vic t i m , E r i c Stene. In simple terms, she i s determined to f u l f i l l her r o l e as a woman by having the c h i l d which her husband's impotence denies her. Ostenso emphasizes her sexu a l i t y to the point where she resembles a plant awaiting Nature's somewhat haphazard method of f e r t i l i z a t i o n . Her f i r s t meeting with E r i c in the store has d i s t i n c t symbolic connotations, i n that they engage in a minor struggle over an egg plant which both of them d e s i r e . 4 2 She i s described l i k e an i n v i t i n g flower, from "the pollen-rough sweetness of her v o i c e " 4 3 to the "velvety warm bl u r r in the upward glance", she gives E r i c from "eyes laughing out l i k e dark f l o w e r s . " 4 4 Having accomplished her purpose, Lydie is quite prepared to abandon her v i c t i m to the torment of sexual arousal, and d e b i l i t a t i n g g u i l t , which the seduction causes in him. Andrew's decision to commit s u i c i d e , following his discovery of the betrayal of his t r u s t , does not release E r i c 4 U T h e Young May Moon, 49 . 4 1 o p . c i t . , 294. 4 2 M i l k Route, 69-70. ^ o p . c i t . , 113 . 4 4 o p . c i t . , 134. from his misery. Rather, i t serves to re-double the phantasmic horrors of the a t t r a c t i o n and repulsion which characterize h i s state of " s i n i s t e r i n e r t i a , " t y p i c a l of the Ostenso novels. E r i c i s " l e f t alone in a dark s i l e n c e that was awful with i t s burden of unuttered sounds," and he ponders in h i s mind "that old saw about a g u i l t y conscience b u i l d i n g o g r e s . " 4 5 The predicament, in which he finds himself, i s e n t i r e l y c r e d i b l e , because he is s u f f i c i e n t l y imaginative to r e a l i z e , at every step, what the consequences are l i k e l y to be. Besides the c h i l d in Lydie's body, he has fathered a phantasm which grows immediately uncontrollable. I f sympathy can be directed to E r i c Stene, i t is because of h i s human f a l l i b i l i t y , in a s i t u a t i o n which e x p l o i t s h i s male v u l n e r a b i l i t y . With Min e l l a Hanks i n Love Passed This Way, and Elsa Bowers in The Mad Carews, there i s considerably more d i f f i c u l t y in maintaining a sympathetic a t t i t u d e . The formula i s strained to i t s utmost in these two s t o r i e s , and there i s a temptation to f e e l impatient with both heroines, e s p e c i a l l y E l s a . In Minella's case the phantasm is less p a i n f u l , and i t f i t s more neatly into the "caution and r e s p e c t a b i l i t y " aspects of Ostenso's pattern. Her dying father believes that he has k i l l e d Kellogg, the banker who has foreclosed on h i s farm: Get away from here tonight . . . . The bank has taken everything. Kellogg t o l d me t h i s afternoon. I - I h i t him on the head with a chair. He's dead.4** M i n e l l a d u t i f u l l y disappears, and under an assumed name becomes a successful w r i t e r , but continues to allow the phantasm to dominate her l i f e . It is not u n t i l many years a f t e r her father's death that she and York C l i f f o r d , the sweetheart of her childhood, s t i l l unmarried and apparently morally immaculate l i k e h e r s e l f , eventually achieve the union anticipated at the outset. The ^ o p . c i t . , 269. 46Love Passed This Way, 90. s a c r i f i c i a l theme, begun in Wild Geese and employed in varying guises a f t e r -wards, is a marked feature of Minella's behaviour. When the phantasm of g u i l t is f i n a l l y dispersed York t e l l s her that "somewhere tonight the gods are having a good laugh to themselves." 4^ The daughter's concept of f i l i a l duty has c e r t a i n l y been carried to the extreme, and possibly indicates a remnant of a P u r i t a n i c a l code governing the obligations of the c h i l d to the parent. In any event, the true facts of the banker's death, the r e s u l t of a cyclone, are intended to make a l l the di f f e r e n c e to Minella's outlook. She has pursued a very active w r i t i n g career, but has maintained an at t i t u d e of i n e r t i a as far as her. home town is concerned. Now armed with a palatable truth, she can assert her claim to r e s p e c t a b i l i t y , an i n f i n i t e l y more important factor in l i f e than love for her parent, or so i t would appear. The highly improbable circumstances of Minella's continuing ignorance of the truth of what occurred, when the cyclone struck the town, make enormous demands upon one's patience with her as a credible f i c t i o n a l character. Her f a c i l i t y in c l o s i n g her mind to the events of her childhood, and adolescence, is in contrast to Elsa Bower's a b i l i t y to activa t e "the gaunt fear that was s t i r r i n g within h e r , " 4 8 e f f e c t i v e l y placing a b a r r i e r between Bayliss and h e r s e l f . The phantasms of caution and r e s p e c t a b i l i t y conspire to immobilize her to the place where consummation of her marriage i s prevented, through an i n a b i l i t y to communicate with her husband: She heard his step again, passing along the h a l l to his own room. The blood pounded back into her heart, crushing out her breath. Hunger renewed i t s gnawing in the depths of her body.4-9 Elsa's i n e r t i a p a r a l l e l s Minella's, to a ce r t a i n extent, except for the extreme 4 7 o p . c i t . , 216. 4 8The Mad Carews, 233. 4 9 o p . c i t . , 245. sense of sexual deprivation E l s a f e e l s . It i s e s s e n t i a l , in Elsa's mind, for Bayliss to achieve some measure of regeneration before conjugal r i g h t s can be granted. Fortunately for B a y l i s s , the economic collapse of h i s family allows him to reveal h i s e s s e n t i a l commitment to "the Hollow," 5 n the humble environ-ment from which E l s a came, and through being able to demonstrate h i s s p i r i t u a l empathy with the s o i l he d i s p e l s her suspicions concerning h i s moral i n t e g r i t y . The integration with the land, considered so urgent in The Mad Carews , is reminiscent of the phantasm in There's Always Another Year. The g u i l t pattern so dominant in Love Passed This Way, and seminal to The Mad Carews, i s not exploited i n t h i s story, but there i s a f a m i l i a r r i n g to the manner in which one person acts as a brake upon progress, u n t i l a u c t o r i a l dispensation is provided, and a happy r e s o l u t i o n is achieved. The banker's highly s o p h i s t i c -ated, and eminently untrustworthy daughter plays her usual part in the story, proving to the young hard working farmer that heretofore i t had not seemed: . . . quite possible to him that anyone could be so s e l f i s h , so petty, so lacking in personal i n t e g r i t y - and worst of a l l , in any ordinary sense of p r o p o r t i o n . 5 1 In spite of her d e f i c i e n c i e s , Corinne i s not the d i r e c t cause of Roddy Wil l a r d ' s phantasm. His p r i n c i p a l fear i s that S i l v e r Grenoble w i l l s e l l her "land to a cash buyer," and thus deprive him of the use of a considerable addition to his own farm. As Sophronia t e l l s S i l v e r : " I t ' s just that he's t i l l e d your section with h i s dad's u n t i l he feels that i t ' s his own." 5 2 Roddy's sense of proprietorship is challenged by S i l v e r ' s f e e l i n g that she "needed t h i s land that held the very roots of her being - she needed i t to 3 U o p . c i t . , 343. 5 t h e r e ' s Always Another Year, 211-212. 5 2 o p . c i t . , 31. o b l i t e r a t e forever the dread and i n s e c u r i t y and violence of that other l i f e . " What might seem to be an impasse is resolved by a plague of locusts and the elopement of Roddy's wife with a p r o f l i g a t e gambler. The "staggering blow", which the loss of the land would represent is happily averted, and the indubitable rewards for those who keep troth with the land are p l a i n l y manifest. There are quite obvious p a r a l l e l s with The Stone F i e l d in regards to the r e l i a n c e placed upon the banker's daughter to bring about the sentimental in t e g r a t i o n of the p l o t , and also the suggestion that f i d e l i t y to the land has c e r t a i n correspondences to successful marriage prospects. Ostenso has frequent recourse to the matter of f i d e l i t y and she reveals her b e l i e f in the complete i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of i n t e r e s t s as being the basic necessity for compatibility and mutual respect. It i s p r e c i s e l y because of the absence of the v i t a l factors for m a r i t a l success that the partnerships in several novels end in a severance of the t i e s . The suggestion i s , of course, that the d i s s o l u t i o n of the marriage i s for the good of a l l concerned, but Ostenso also makes use of an i n h i b i t i n g sense of impropriety in the matter of extra-marital a f f a i r s in order to e x p l o i t the g u i l t feelings to t h e i r f u l l e s t extent. A t h i c k v e i l of recriminating spectres must intrude between the lovers before the happy r e s o l u t i o n i s achieved. The sense of impropriety is introduced as a persistent phantasm which imposes curbs upon i n s t i n c t i v e self-determination. David Welland r e a l i z e s t h i s fact in The Waters Under the Earth, and i t is apparent in There's  Always Another Year."*4 And in The Dark Dawn, Lucian, who harbours what seems to be a hopeless passion for Karen Strand, is tormented by the g u i l t feelings which invade his mind and cause his "heart to beat with sickening thuds, 53 o p . c i t . , 59. wrapped about by pain."- >- ) Severe c r i t i c s of Lucian are l i k e l y to be m o l l i f i e d by the knowledge that Hattie Murker deceives him into marrying her. Bert Murker, Lucian's half-witted brother-in-law b l u r t s out the story behind Hattie's s e l e c t i o n of a husband: I watched 'em - her an' Mons - when they didn't know i t . . . . He had her there one night . . . . But he wouldn't marry her. . . . An 1 she married you to get even with him . . . . She tol d him she did . . , . 5 6 This d i s c l o s u r e , although i t a s s i s t s Lucian to obtain a new perspective, does not free him from the bonds of matrimony, and i t i s not u n t i l Hattie's convenient demise from a heart ailment"* 7 that the curbs are removed and: At the sight of h i s face, the doctor knew that some strange alchemy unknown to Muller's profession had effected a change within him.58 The burden of g u i l t and despair has been l i f t e d from Lucian's shoulders by the death of Hattie, providing the kind of r e l i e f from a phantasm which Ostenso employs in Wild Geese, where Caleb's death resolved the d i f f i c u l t i e s posed by his threats. Although by the time Caleb dies, the lovers have taken matters into t h e i r own hands, there i s a release from tension on t h e i r behalf. A sense of r e l i e f i s f e l t by Marcia when Dorcas Gunther dies in The Young May Moon, 5 9 allowing the heroine to " t e l l h e r s e l f that she would never be lonely again, she would be enchanted forever - aloof from existence as she had known i t o n c e . x h e f a t a l accident to J a r v i s Dean, in Prologue to Love, achieves the 5 5 T h e Dark Dawn, 231. 5 6 o p . c i t . , 239. 5 7 o p . c i t . , 291. 5 8 o p . c i t . , 294. 5 9 t h e Young May Moon, 246. 6 0 o p . c i t . , 247. same general e f f e c t for his daughter. The g u i l t problems, a r i s i n g from a conjunction of marriage d i f f i c u l t i e s and conventional a t t i t u d e s , disperse in a climate conducive only to the flowering of love between f u l l y compatible persons. The achievement of conditions s u i t a b l e for the prosecution of a love a f f a i r that is not to be emasculated by s o c i a l pressures depends occasionally upon the stock fi g u r e of the r i c h man's daughter. There are several of them in Ostenso's novels and they tend to conform in terms of general c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . Corinne Meade, who marries Roddy W i l l a r d in There's Always Another Year, obliges everyone by becoming involved with the " r o t t e r " , Gerald Lucas, thus making i t somewhat more respectable to symphathize when S i l v e r Grenoble leans over the fence, r e a l i z i n g that: . . . seeing Roddy at work in the intimate task of f e r t i l i z i n g h i s corn had been l i k e looking into h i s very heart, l i k e counting the beat of his l i f e ' s blood.61 Corinne is quite unconscious of the development of t h i s t r i a n g l e , owing to the one she i s constructing for h e r s e l f . Her departure6 2 signals the a r r i v a l of the r a i n , a beneficent conclusion to the p h y s i c a l and s p i r i t u a l drought, and a symbolic means of washing away the phantasm which has a f f l i c t e d Roddy W i l l a r d . The circumstances in There's Always Another Year are quite s i m i l a r to those in The Stone F i e l d as far as the behaviour of the stock figure is concerned. The indulged young wife t i r e s of a rather prosaic husband and seeks excitement elsewhere, eventually leaving altogether, in search of a divorce which w i l l enable the hero and heroine to face the respectable world with unblemished consciences. Teresa, the wife in The Stone F i e l d , has a c e r t a i n amount in common with Eunice Wingate of The White Reef, as far as se x u a l i t y i s concerned, There's Always Another Year, 240. 6 2 o p , c i t . , 265. but Eunice appears to have a s l i g h t advantage i n terms of moral i n t e g r i t y . A l l three women, C o r i n n e ^ Teresa,64 a n ( j Eunice, f u l l y appreciate the destructive e f f e c t s of a scene: Her smothered scream f i l l e d him with sudden a l l but uncontrollable rage . . . the cumulative e f f e c t upon him of a l l her supine malice and calculated h y s t e r i c s in times past.65 Ostenso's purpose in reve a l i n g characters, of t h i s type, i n such an u n f l a t t e r -ing l i g h t i s to emphasize the extent of the i l l u s i o n , another dimension to the concept of the phanatasm. The women a l l have the advantages of beauty and wealth, factors which make them extremely a t t r a c t i v e on the s u p e r f i c i a l l e v e l . But to o f f s e t the apparent d e s i r a b i l i t y is a marked lack of substance. In thi s regard, they d i f f e r quite r a d i c a l l y from the women who are destined to be the true consorts for her heroes. Ostenso's heroines must be t r u l y representative of the s o i l to which the heroes reveal t h e i r commitment.. In Wild Geese the idea is quite t e n t a t i v e , but i n subsequent novels i t becomes more and more apparent that the concept of dedication to natural values takes hold and produces roots which spread through the remainder of her novels. She establishes a dichotomy between the c i t y and the country that reveals the extent of her own allegiance; but she also reveals y something else that indicates her s e n s i t i v i t y to l i f e values that transcend the psychological overcast which obscures the l i g h t from the t r u l y unregenerate. The a t t r a c t i o n to the c i t y seems v a l i d enough in Wild Geese, because Caleb succeeds in p r o l i f e r a t i n g the menace u n t i l the countryside is redolent of the t a i n t . The movement to the c i t y seems l i k e a l o g i c a l escape from chaos to order. There i s a suggestion of the same thing happening in The Dark Dawn; 6 3 o p . c i t . , 211-15. 6 4 T h e Stone F i e l d , 268-71. 6 5 T h e White Reef, 255. Karen goes to the c i t y and i t seems apparent that Lucian w i l l follow her a f t e r he "has turned over the whole Murker farm to Bert." Following that novel, Ostenso seems to have reached a decision concerning the c i t y and the country, and she i s i n c l i n e d to locate the f o c a l point securely in a more or less r u r a l environment. The women who receive Ostenso's commendation are the ones who are capable of understanding the urban predicament and i n t e r p r e t i n g i t s seeming order as unnecessary chaos. The farm becomes an adequate microcosm for the exercise of t h e i r philosophic propensities, and they are capable of understanding t h e i r usefulness in a sphere which can be comprehended p h y s i c a l l y , but which i s fathomless in a s p i r i t u a l sense. It is here that they, l i k e Luke Darr, can learn to develop an i n t u i t i v e awareness of God's pattern in the minutest d e t a i l s of t h e i r environment. So, in placing an emphasis upon the regenerative properties of the r u r a l environment, for those who are w i l l i n g to seek a pattern of s p i r i t u a l f u l f i l l m e n t , Ostenso i s showing some measure of agreement with the aphorism: "God made the country and the d e v i l made the town." Her f i d e l i t y to realism, however, can be discerned in the fact that these broad d i s t i n c t i o n s , represent-ing v i r t u e and v i c e , could be employed as p o l a r i t i e s that are completely i n t e r -changeable. The r u r a l environment has no premium on pure, untarnished souls, as far as her novels are concerned, and by the same token i t would be impossible to dismiss as v i c i o u s a l l the town dwellers shown in her work. The age-old c o n f l i c t between v i r t u e and v i c e can be waged anywhere, and Ostenso is not so naive as to state unequivocally that the country possesses mythical properties denied to the town. It is rather that the countryside provides, for the majority of her sympathetic characters, opportunities to eventually recognize and choose a pattern of decisiveness that w i l l have a material a f f e c t upon subsequent a b i l i t y to cope with psychological pressures. Chapter Five Conclusion In s t a t i n g that " I t was p r a i r i e writers such as . . . Martha Ostenso . . . who began the systematic transformation of Canadian f i c t i o n from romance to r e a l i s m , " 1 C a r l F. Klinck attempts to place hep l i t e r a r y contribution in perspective. This i s a common pr a c t i c e among our l i t e r a r y commentators. Thomas Saunders says p r a c t i c a l l y the same thing in his introduction to Grain where he lays stress upon the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the fact that Wild Geese "helped introduce a new dimension into Canadian f i c t i o n which . . . has influenced every serious Canadian n o v e l i s t since." His assertion, that "Canadian realism began" with the novels of a small group of w r i t e r s , is supported by Pacey, who says that " I t was in novels of the p r a i r i e s , such as those of Grove, Stead and Ostenso, that Canadian realism began." That a "transformation of Canadian f i c t i o n " appeared to be necessary during the early twenties i s made clear by Ca r l y l e King when he writes about "the Sunshine School of Canadian f i c t i o n " which flourished at that time: In a novel of the Sunshine School, human nature is fundamentally noble and ro t a r i a n morality always triumphs. The main characters are b a s i c a l l y nice people. Nobody ever suffers long or gets r e a l l y hurt or says "damn" . . . and most of the characters l i v e v i r t u o u s l y ever a f t e r . 4 As King says, t h i s "dishonest t r a d i t i o n . . . was of no use to a n o v e l i s t who proposed to make the chief female character" behave i n the way that Judith does. Carl F. Klinck, ed. L i t e r a r y History of Canada, (Toronto, 1967),676. i Thomas Saunders, Introduction to Grain, by Robert J . C. Stead, (Toronto, 1963),x. 'Pacey, 223. h C a r l y l e King, Introduction to Wild Geese, v. He also points to the fact that Ostenso's l i t e r a r y antecedents in Canada could have been of l i t t l e help to her, but does acknowledge that her possible influences were from the pens of Sherwood Anderson, S i n c l a i r Lewis and W i l l a Cather. They represented "the high point of American f i c t i o n a l r e a l i s m " 5 at the time when Wild Geese was coming into being, and King's suggestion receives support from Pacey, who r e f e r s to "the influence of American r e a l i s t s , most of whom came from or dealt with the mid-west."6 Martha Ostenso, then, must be regarded p r i m a r i l y as a r e f l e c t i o n of a l i t e r a r y a t t i t u d e , which had gained a foothold in America, but had not made a s i g n i f i c a n t impression upon Canadian f i c t i o n . It i s true that the topic of realism in Canadian F i c t i o n was beginning to receive a c e r t a i n amount of a t t e n t i o n . Francis Dickie wrote: Canadian f i c t i o n as yet has not enough a r t i s t i c balance, without which no great l i t e r a t u r e i s possible. That a r t i s t i c balance w i l l come with the advent of realism.7 The widespread concern with the desire for a national i d e n t i t y and a national l i t e r a t u r e appears over and over again in the pages of Canadian Bookman during the early twenties. It becomes obvious that an ingenuous b e l i e f existed that a formula could be devised to provide a national l i t e r a t u r e . The a s p i r i n g w r i t e r received copious advice on the way in which the Canadian image could be p r o j e c t e d , 8 and attempts were made to show how c r i t i c a l and commercial standards could also be s a t i s f i e d . Thus, i t was with something approaching wild e x c i t e -ment that W. E. MacLellan wrote his a r t i c l e in The Dalhousie Review, h a i l i n g 5 C a r l y l e King, Introduction to Wild Geese,vii. 6Pacey, 223. 7 F r a n c i s D i c k i e , "Realism in Canadian F i c t i o n , " The Canadian Bookman, Vol.VII, No.10, (Oct 1925), 165. 8Lorne Pierce, "Canadian L i t e r a t u r e and the National Ideal," The Canadian  Bookman, Vol.VII, No.9, (Sept 1925),143-4. the advent of r e a l Canadian l i t e r a t u r e with the appearance of Wild Geese. Armed with inaccurate f a c t s , r e l a t i n g to Martha Ostenso's background, and showing a determination to change most of the characters to Swedes or Russians he nevertheless i n s i s t e d that the United States could "boast of nothing to equal" Wild Geese at that date. 9 His emphasis upon Ostenso's Canadian q u a l i f i c a t i o n s indicates, too, the fact that a p a r t i c u l a r need was being s a t i s f i e d by her f i r s t novel. Truthfulness i s the d i s t i n g u i s h i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the book. There is not an incident in i t which might not have happened in the surroundings, not a character introduced which might not have been'a l o g i c a l product or part of the conditions.10 These c r i t e r i a were considered mandatory for a work of r e a l i s t i c f i c t i o n , mak-ing WJ;ld_Gees_e "Canada's foremost contribution to English l i t e r a t u r e . " The conditions which Wild Geese met in f i n d i n g acceptance as a work of Canadian realism can be found as a v i t a l part of the discussion in American works dealing with the l i t e r a r y trends of that time. The myths which the Sunshine School perpetuated in Canadian l i t e r a t u r e had been subjected to an e a r l i e r s c r u t i n y in America, and, as Luccock noticed, the emergence of a c r i t i c a l s p i r i t f i n d i n g expression in American l i t e r a t u r e , following the war, was a development of a trend already in p r o g r e s s . ^ The post-war d i s i l l u s i o n -ment provided a c c e l e r a t i o n for the att i t u d e s that arose from a recognition of the threadbare f a b r i c of three cherished myths of the American people. Luccock suggests that the r e j e c t i o n of these myths took the form of r e v o l t in the novels of writers who exhibited the growth of realism and a sense of f u t i l i t y . The 9w. E. MacLellan, "Real Canadian L i t e r a t u r e , " The Dalhousie Review, Vol.VI, No. 1, (Oct 1926), 23. 10 .„ 0 O  op. c i t . , 12.. Halford E. Luccock, Contemporary American L i t e r a t u r e and R e l i g i o n , (New York,1934), 93-8. c h a r a c t e r i s t i c r e v o l t s were against the v i l l a g e , Puritanism, and the s a n c t i f i e d optimism in the economic world. The incoming t i d e of uncertainty began to i s o l a t e , rather more d e f i n i t e l y , the t r a d i t i o n a l concepts of society. Maybe they were not yet placed in perspective, but t h e i r l i m i t a t i o n s were being revealed: The war s t a r t l e d us out of pleasant places of thought into h o r r i f i e d awareness of the maladjustments of p o l i t i c a l society, and the peace thrust us into an era of r e b e l l i o n against the smugness which had ^ accepted the pre-war world as something to r e j o i c e i n . I f the "smugness" which Canby r e f e r s to can be understood to subsume f i d e l i t y to the myths of the v i l l a g e , Puritanism and economic s t a b i l i t y , then there appears to be a measure of c r i t i c a l agreement as to the climate of the period when Martha Ostenso launched h e r s e l f into a w r i t i n g career. The claim that she was one of those instrumental in the "transforma-t i o n of Canadian f i c t i o n from romance to realism" i s supported by the fact that elements of the three r e v o l t s , c i t e d by Luccock, can be detected in varying degrees of c l a r i t y in her work. There are, too, quite close p a r a l l e l s between those r e v o l t s and the three contrapuntal themes already examined in t h i s paper. This would suggest that there was a recognition by Ostenso of the importance of becoming s e n s i t i v e to contemporary concerns, and assuming r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for making an a r t i s t i c contribution through her w r i t i n g . She was quite obviously examining the t r a d i t i o n a l concept of the v i l l a g e i n Wild Geese and other works, such as The Waters Under the Earth, and A Man Had T a l l Sons. The concern with the family is quite c l e a r l y an extension of the v i l l a g e myth, because Ostenso i s intent upon showing the f a l l a c y of subscribing to the t r a d i t i o n a l deceptions r e l a t i n g to the wholesomeness and p u r i t y of the family. The pattern for the Utopian v i l l a g e and the myth of l^Henry Seidel Canby, Saturday Review of L i t e r a t u r e , Vol.IX, No.l, (July 23,1932), 1. innocence i s the roseate image of the family, l i v i n g i n harmony, and observing decent respect for the h i e r a r c h i c a l conditions of man. W r i t i n g on the theme of nati o n a l i d e n t i t y , Lawrence Burpee provides a good example of the a t t i t u d e of mind against which Ostenso o f f e r s obvious c r i t i c i s m in Wild Geese. Burpee writes that the "true" national note: . . . i s found in books that, in whatever way, teach Canadians that t h e i r fathers have l e f t them a heritage they can afford neither to forget nor to dishonor - the heritage of a land of splendid p o s s i b i l i t i e s , and the memory of honest and manly achievement 1 3 Burpee merely echoed what most of Ostenso's fellow writers in Canada earnestly believed. To o f f e r the public an experience of Caleb Gare and his family, in the same year that the president of the Canadian Authors' Association was d e f i n i n g the " n a t i o n a l " family that n o v e l i s t s should honour, suggests something of what King c a l l s the "measure of Martha Ostenso's pioneering achievement in Canadian f i c t i o n . " 1 4 The fact that the pattern of the community was derived from the imaginery pattern of the family made i t impossible, at one time, to accept anything other than romanticized accounts of l i f e . Indeed, "truth was ruinous to long-cherished i l l u s i o n s " 1 5 and Ostenso must acknowledge her debt to an a r t i s t such as Edgar Lee Masters who set out to destroy the myth of the v i l l a g e . When he has fin i s h e d h i s tour of the Spoon River cemetery "the v i l l a g e has been l a i d bare" and he has exposed: Lawrence J. Burpee, "The National Note in Canadian L i t e r a t u r e , " The  Canadian Bookman, Vol.VII, No.2, (Feb 1925), 34. ^Carlyle King, Introduction to Wild Geese, v. Harlan Hatcher, Creating the Modern American Novel, (New York,1935), 8. . . . the good in those whom the c i t i z e n s condemned, the e v i l i n the hearts of the righteous, and . . . despair over a l i f e so s t a l e and so barren of joy or n o b i l i t y , so p i t i f u l l y mean and cruel.16 The Utopian v i l l a g e , symbol of i d y l l i c contentment, was being relegated to i t s true r o l e as an unattainable i d e a l , because human nature, as seen in the context of the family, could never begin to approximate to the myth. A determination to examine the family in r e a l i s t i c terms i s quite apparent in a number of Martha Ostenso's novels. It indicates that she recognized, sooner than many of her fellow Canadian w r i t e r s , the redundancy of c e r t a i n conventional a t t i t u d e s . These attitudes were the r e s u l t of a l l e g i -ance to "two terms which l a t e r became quaintly synonymous, Puritanism and V i c t o r i a n i s m . " I 7 Hatcher feels that the " a r t i c l e s of f a i t h " which these terms represented were under strong c r i t i c i s m by the American d i s c i p l e s of "modernism." From t h e i r pens came attacks upon: . . . the s a n c t i t y of marriage, the heavenly o r i g i n of the moral code, the i n f a l l i b i l i t y of St. Paul . . . the Utopian l i f e of an American v i l l a g e , the altruism of b i g business, the s u p e r i o r i t y of the male to the female. . . the good l i f e on a Mid-western farm. . . . I 8 It w i l l be agreed that a f a i r l y a ctive correspondence ex i s t s between aspects of what Hatcher has to say and the eventual pattern that derives from Ostenso's analysis of Wild Geese. The c r i t i c i s m to which she resorts i s usually implied rather than stated. Nevertheless, i t i s clear that she i s conscious of a personal commitment to contest for h e r s e l f a number of the concepts on Hatcher's l i s t . 113-114. 10. 16 op . c i t . , 17 op.cit, Her involvement with the s p i r i t of the attack i s evident in the ample use she makes of the marriage motif. Marriage i t s e l f , so t r a d i t i o n a l l y a myth and r e f l e c t i n g the i n s u b s t a n t i a l i t y of the Utopian innocence of the v i l l a g e , serves Ostenso as a means of commenting upon the kind of naive a t t i t u d e expressed by Burpee, and so representative of the state of Canadian l i t e r a t u r e at that time. And because marriage symbolizes the nucleus of the family, Ostenso i s aiming d i r e c t l y at the centre of the pompous verbiage which strove to perpetuate the u n r e a l i s t i c goals of Canadian l i t e r a t u r e . Marriage and l i t e r a t u r e have in common the need to be founded upon perceptive discus-sion, that does not shrink from a feature of human nature merely because i t does not accord with some spurious set of values completely at odds with r e a l -i t y . Where a marriage i n an Ostenso novel i s a complete d i s a s t e r , i t is because there has been a perverse blindness shown to the basic requirements for a whole-some r e l a t i o n s h i p . The young farmer and the banker's daughter i l l u s t r a t e t h i s aspect quite l u c i d l y , but they are merely continuations of the formulaic device a r i s i n g from an analysis of the marriage of Amelia and Caleb, or that of J o e l Brund and Mrs. Sandbo's s l u t t i s h daughter. The Sunshine School of l i t e r a t u r e would have fabricated dramatic regeneration structures to ensure that our noble heritage remained untarnished, but Ostenso's dedication to stark honesty prevents such an occurrence. This dedication to truth ensures her place i n Canadian l i t e r a t u r e as an early p r a c t i t i o n e r in r e a l i s t i c f i c t i o n . In pursuing her aim to produce r e a l i s t i c f i c t i o n , Ostenso manages to keep marriage central to her view. A l l her s t o r i e s involve marriage as the v i t a l goal, the crowning achievement for characters who have to undergo a series of t r i a l s before a t t a i n i n g a state of b l i s s f u l union. Marriage to the true partner i s equivalent to discovering the " v i l l a g e " for the f i r s t time. The r e c a l c i t r a n t s have been expelled, and the future extends into an i n f i n i t y of harmonic pleasure. Ostenso, in s a t i s f y i n g the sentimental expectations, i s not being altogether u n r e a l i s t i c , because she i s making the premise that compatible individuals can expect to l i v e happily together. There-fore, because marriage i s the eventual goal of her sympathetic characters, i t w i l l be agreed that an undeniable correspondence can be seen between i t and the three elements of human behaviour discussed i n t h i s paper. Unhappiness is an i n t e g r a l part of the experience facing almost every character before the f i n a l r e s o l u t i o n i s reached. It is a p a i n f u l l y f a m i l i a r fact of l i f e that r e l a t i o n s h i p s within the domestic c i r c l e are a frequent cause of misery. C o n f l i c t s between parents and ch i l d r e n , or between marriage partners, are matters which are fundamental to the human condition and, as in Wild Geese, the d i f f e r e n t aspects of family dispute are often c l o s e l y i n t e r - r e l a t e d . S i m i l a r l y , the a u t h o r i t a r i a n figure is seen at his best in a family s e t t i n g , because the victims of his tyranny are usually unable to escape, either by day or night. The tyrant's marriage partner is often overwhelmed by factors of moral or s p i r i t u a l impediment and rendered incapable of producing a counter-balancing influence which can integrate the home into an e f f e c t i v e harmony. The fragmentation which r e s u l t s from the tyrants domination, whereby each member of the family becomes a separate is l a n d , has the r e s u l t of hedging each one within intangible clouds of dread. The tyrant's e f f e c t is one of para l y s i s and he succeeds i n rooting h i s victims to the spot both p h y s i c a l l y and s p i r i t u a l l y , u n t i l a r e s o l u t i o n is brought about. The state of i n e r t i a experienced by Martha Ostenso's characters i s not always the r e s u l t of the a c t i v i t i e s of one of her P u r i t a n i c a l tyrants. Royce Hilyard, unhappily married to Teresa, the banker's daughter, i s exposed to a period of despair, a r i s i n g from a v a r i e t y of causes connected with items on Hatcher's l i s t . His wife has despoiled t h e i r marriage, his brother has betrayed h i s t r u s t , and that of the " v i l l a g e " , b i g business int e r e s t s are rui n i n g the countryside and the " v i l l a g e r ' s " l i v e l i h o o d , and now he has betrayed his own i n t e g r i t y , and that of Jo Porte, by having sexual intercourse with her. He finds that the outside world: . . . seemed to him now unfamiliar and a l i e n . Was t h i s , he wondered bleakly, what happened to a man a f t e r he had done an irreparable wrong? Did every physical object with which his l i f e had been inseparably joined suddenly r e c o i l from him, r e j e c t his existence as though he had never been? 1" The Puritan noose i s placed about his neck and he i s disposed to tighten i t himself, as he regards the landscape, vague and r e j e c t i n g , symbolizing universal disapproval. The incubus of dread defies his attempts to create a palpable shape out of the factors a f f l i c t i n g him with a s p i r i t u a l p a r a l y s i s . His i n e r t i a prevents him from d i r e c t l y confronting his troubles. He knows that: . . . he had f a l t e r e d . . . u n t i l i t was too l a t e . What Teresa revealed . . . was more than he could beat. To face Ashbrooke . . . was unthinkable . . . . He pressed h i s hands hard against his eyes . . . . ^ And in pressing "his hands hard against his eyes" Royce Hilyard is confining himself within the t o i l s of the phantasm which has grown out of h i s f e e l i n g s of g u i l t , degradation and moral i n e r t i a . He epitomizes the p l i g h t of many of Ostenso's characters and i l l u s t r a t e s how the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c elements function as resonant e n t i t i e s , each separate one contributing to the t o t a l unity in i t s own way. The demands of the fugue are s a t i s f i e d by the introduction of dominant concerns that are developed to a c e r t a i n p i t c h of i n t e n s i t y and are then subordinated to the demands of an ultimate harmony. In developing an involvement with some of the objectives of the "modernist" writers of America Ostenso l a i d h e r s e l f open to the categorizing 1 9The Stone F i e l d , 274. 2 0 o p . c i t . , 276-7. a c t i v i t i e s of l i t e r a r y commentators. When searching for her place in the t o t a l pattern there i s a c e r t a i n amount of assistance to be gained from Fred 21 Lewis Pattee's appraisal of her value as a w r i t e r . He recognizes her aware-ness of the requirements for success and i s prepared to suggest that a formula could be detected in the type of work produced by Ostenso, and other p r i z e -winning n o v e l i s t s contemporary with her. He says that i n considering "such novels as those winning the d i s t i n c t i v e prizes . . . one i s able to say that the elements conducive to winning are s i x i n number." 2 2 He i d e n t i f i e s these elements as: o r i g i n a l i t y ; r e a l i s m 1 an absence of p l o t , i . e . , "no a r t i f i c i a l ordering of episodes to a culmination at the end";characterization; subservience of background to characterization and action; and f i n a l l y , "good workmanship, or - as the workers themselves prefer to term i t - a r t i s t r y . " 2 3 It is apparent that Pattee does not allow himself to be swept o f f his feet by Ostenso, and neither does Meyer, who is one of the few contemporary scholars to comment upon her work. In r e j e c t i n g her as a true farm n o v e l i s t , he feels that "the best that can be said for the work of Martha Ost BTISo i s that i t is an exce 1 lent o / example of popular f i c t i o n . " The evaluations by Pattee and Meyer are p e r f e c t l y v a l i d i n view of the s i z e of the impact Martha Ostenso makes upon the American l i t e r a r y "pool", It i s , however, in remembering the s i z e of i t s Canadian counterpart, in the middle twenties, that f u l l appreciation can be paid to Martha Ostenso. There is very l i t t l e comparison between a l i t e r a r y awareness such as the Americans 2 1 F r e d Lewis Pattee. The New American L i t e r a t u r e 1890-1930, (New York,1930). 2 2 o p . c i t . , 465. 2 3 o p . c i t . , 466. 2 4Meyer, 151. could boast at that time and the meagre, uncritical state of Canadian letters in the year when Wild Geese was published. It is futile to pursue a discussion of the parallels in American and Canadian literature at the dawn of Canadian realism. Ostenso's contribution was, and remains, an unique break with a cloying tradition and will always represent a determined step in the direction of a genuine Canadian literature. BIBLIOGRAPHY PRIMARY SOURCES Ostenso, Martha. Wild Geese. New York, 1925, and Toronto, 1961, reprinted 1967. . The Dark Dawn. New York, 1926. The Mad Carews. New York, 1927. • The Young May Moon. New York, 1929. • The Waters Under the Earth. New York, 1930. . Prologue to Love. New York, 1931. . There's Always Another Year. New York, 1933. . The White Reef. New York, 1934. . The Stone F i e l d . New York, 1937. ' • The Mandrake Root. New York, 1938. • • Love Passed This Way. New York, 1942. . 0 River, Remember! New York, 1943. . M i l k Route. New York, 1948. _. The Sunset Tree. New York, 1949. . A Man Had T a l l Sons. New York, 1958. SECONDARY SOURCES BOOKS Berkman, Aaron. The Functional Line in Painting. New York, 1957. Deegan, Dorothy Yost. The Stereotype of the Single Woman in American Novels. New York, 1951. Durant, W i l l . The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers. New York, 1926. 7th paperback e d i t i o n 1966. Hatcher, Harlan. Creating the Modern American Novel. New York, 1935. Horton, Rod W. and Herbert W. Edwards. Backgrounds of American L i t e r a r y Thought. New York, 1952. Klinck, C a r l F., Ed. L i t e r a r y History of Canada. Toronto, 1967. Langer, Susanne. Philosophy in a New Key. New York, 1942. Luccock, Halford E. Contemporary American L i t e r a t u r e and R e l i g i o n . New York, 1934. Meyer, Roy W. The Middle Western Farm Novel in the Twentieth Century. L i n c o l n , Nebraska, 1965. M i l l e r , Perry. The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century. Boston, 1961. Pacey, Desmond. Creative Writing in Canada. Toronto, 1964. Pattee, Fred Lewis. The New American L i t e r a t u r e , 1890-1930. New York, 1930. Saunders, Thomas. Introduction to Grain by Robert J . C. Stead, Toronto, 1963. Witham, W. Tasker. The Adolescent in the American Novel, 1920-1960. New York, 1964. ARTICLES Anonymous. "Two Western Books," The Canadian Bookman, VII (December 1925),203. Burpee, Lawrence J . "The National Note in Canadian L i t e r a t u r e , " The Canadian Bookman, VII (February 1925),34. Brown, E. K. "The Problem of a Canadian L i t e r a t u r e " , Masks of F i c t i o n , ed. A. J . M Smith, Toronto, 1961. Canby, Henry S e i d e l . "A Disappearing A r t , " Saturday Review of L i t e r a t u r e , IX (July 23, 1932}1-Colman, Morris. "Martha Ostenso, Priz e N o v e l i s t " , Maclean's Magazine, (January 1, 1925),56-8. Dickie, Francis. "Realism in Canadian F i c t i o n " , The Canadian Bookman, VII, (October 1925)165. MacLellan, W. E. "Real Canadian L i t e r a t u r e , " The Dalhousie Review, VII, (October 1926),18-23. Mu l l i n s , S. G. "Some Remarks on the theme in Martha Ostenso's Wild Geese," Culture, 23, (December 5, 1927),359-62. Overton, Grant. "Novelist from Nowhere", Mentor, 15, (June 1927),56-7. "Canadian L i t e r a t u r e and the National Ideal," The  Canadian Bookman, VII, (September 1925) "Susanne Langer," The Tenth Muse: essays in c r i t i c i s m , New York, 1958, 239-50. "Period Pieces," Canadian L i t e r a t u r e , 10, (Autumn 1961), 72-7. 

Cite

Citation Scheme:

        

Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics

Share

Embed

Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                        
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            src="{[{embed.src}]}"
                            data-item="{[{embed.item}]}"
                            data-collection="{[{embed.collection}]}"
                            data-metadata="{[{embed.showMetadata}]}"
                            data-width="{[{embed.width}]}"
                            data-media="{[{embed.selectedMedia}]}"
                            async >
                            </script>
                            </div>
                        
                    
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:
https://iiif.library.ubc.ca/presentation/dsp.831.1-0102000/manifest

Comment

Related Items