The Double Hook is a dramatization of the beginnings of language and cultural order; the revolutionary qualities in Sheila Watson's writing are a consequence of her ‘femaleness.' Working with the idea of women's linguistic alienation by ‘masculine' grammatical rules and syntax, readers can view The Double Hook as a transitional text to the work of Helene Cixous, Gagnon, and Nicole Brossard. Watson attempts to base fiction on an interrogation of the origins of language through the use of metalanguage, abstraction, condensation, dislocation, repetition, and leitmotifs.
In Lady Oracle, Margaret Atwood subtly explores the complex etiology of fantasy, the causes and consequences or self-deception, and in so doing effectively portrays the protagonist's dawning recognition of her largely self-imposed victimization and her first stumbling steps to escape that condition. A close reading of the text examines the plots and characters in Joan's Costume Gothic novels and draw parallels between the duplicitous identities in Joan's life and fiction.
The formative impulse of Stephen Leacock's Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town is a psychological one. By isolating some of its neglected resonances, such as the interiorization of fiction in the last chapter, we can account more satisfactorily for its endearing power. Sunshine Sketches operates skillfully on several different levels; ideas explored include time as separation and disintegration, the narrator's sense of a dissociated self, liberation from linear time in favour of fictional time, the framework of reminiscence.
Ernest Buckler's The Mountain and the Valley may be seen as David's unconscious, and largely unsuccessful, attempt to bring together his imaginative world of visions and senses and his social world of family and friends. The conflicts between David's external world and relationships and his internal world or imagination are key, particularly David's attempts at writing and his climbing of the mountain as key tension/resolution points.
In Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women, the central dynamic tension consists of a perceived split between the characters living within the socially acceptable "garrison" mentality and characters from "the other country," the latter a place made up variously of idiots, seniles, animals, the fatally ill, and those of faith and passion. Del, the protagonist, struggles to commit herself neither to one side of the dialectic nor to the other. Major themes include the parallel "garrison/other country" crises that arise from chapter to chapter, and the function of the mass of surrounding detail, including geography, faith, death, sex, knowledge, and art.
By examining a broad sample of the novels that describe the period from the turn of the century to the start of the Second World War, we can learn a great deal about the nature of the emerging modern society and about the attitudes of those who lived through this important period of transition, and in particular whether Canadian society is "liberal" and "progressive" or "conservative" and "tory." Such issues as individualism, religion, material/monetary values, social optimism, industrialization, and existentialist values are discussed in the work. Authors discussed include Sara Jeanette Duncan, Phillip Grove, Morley Callaghan, Hugh MacLennan, George Grant, Agnes Maule Machar, Stephen Leacock, and others.
In Margaret Avison's poems, images of confinement and liberation are insistently present, and present in a special relation. The poet may be seen as working toward a vision in which this irony can be recognized; full recognition of the irony, that the individual is responsible for his/her own imprisonment, could make it possible to accept confinement as a necessary, salutary condition of self-definition. Poems discussed include "Snow," "Perspective," The Valiant Vacationist," and "Voluptuaries and Others."
Poets who write novels have a different hermeneutic relationship to both their readers and their narrative structures than do most novelists. Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman and Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel are examples of this phenomenon.
In Paul Hiebert's Sarah Binks, incongruity between what is real and what is perceived or fancied is sustained at all levels, thus maintaining throughout the contrast necessary for humour. Noonan extends the concept of incongruity to apply to the general states of mind of Sarah, the fictional "Author," Hiebert, and the reader.
Discussion of the literary ancestry of Caleb Gare invokes parallels between Martha Osenso's novel Wild Geese and the romantic texts of Sir Walter Scott's Bride of Lammermoor and R.D. Blackmore's Lorna Doone.
In Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God, Rachel's benign tumour is an important psychological and physical element. Rachel's emotional and spiritual growth stems from the challenges the tumour poses, and ultimately, Rachel embraces a life-affirming attitude.