Quebec Studies

The Stranger Within: Sexual Politics in the Novels of Germaine Guèvremont

Quebec Studies (1983), 1, (1), 246–256.


The Stranger Within: Sexual Politics in the Novels of Germaine Gukvremont Richard C. Williamson Alerted by obvious clues throughout the novel, the reader knows that the Survenant is going to leave Monk’s Inlet before the final page, indeed that his departure will signal the end of one novelistic adventure, leading easily into another, the continuing story of the Beauchemin clan in Marie-Didace. On the road in the company of Angklina the Survenant stops abruptly to ask a gypsy to read his palm: ‘Elle m’a dit qu’avant longtemps je ferais . . . une longue route’ ” (S, 173). Some twenty pages later, Germaine Gukvremont explicitly states the necessity of this departure: something profound in the character of the Survenant compels him to leave behind the closed, claustrophobic world of the Beauchemin, the Desmarais, the Provenqal, the Salvail: “Les mots titubaient sur ses lkres. I1 ktait ivre, ivre de distance, ivre de dkpart. Une fois de plus, l’inlassable pltlerin voyait rutiler dans la coupe d’or le vin illusoire de la route, des grands espaces, des horizons, des lointains inconnus” (S, 19 1). ’ ‘I But before this drunkenness for the outside overtakes him, the Survenant delivers one last shot at the xenophobic farmers gathered around the stove in the Beauchemin kitchen: “on! vous aimez mieux piktonner toujours i la m2me place, pliks en deux sur vos terres de petite grandeur, plates et cordkes comme des mouchoirs de poche. Sainte bknite, vous aurez donc jamais rien vu, de votre vivant’ ” (S, 190). As he talks, his eyes are fixed on the door, causing everyone else to look at it too. Yet, what they see, what Germaine Gutvrement tells us they see, is not an opening to the outside, to a strange and interesting world, but a massive gray door that has protected them, locked them inside for generations: “Son seuil, ils l’avaient passk tant de fois et tant d’autres l’avaient passk avant eux, qu’il s’ktait creusk, au centre, de tous leurs pas pesants” ( S , 191). For the Survenant, I‘

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Author details

Williamson, Richard