Quebec Studies

Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in No Adam in Eden and It Stops with Me: Memoir of a Canuck Girl

Quebec Studies (2016), 61, (1), 19–38.

Abstract

Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in No Adam in Eden and It Stops with Me: Memoir of a Canuck Girl Cynthia C. Lees University of Delaware Domestic Abuse in Metalious and Touchette “You have said enough,” he said in a calm, cold voice. “If you say one more word, I shall beat you until you cannot stand.” No Adam in Eden (63) Like other immigrant literatures that treat flight and return, mobility and stasis, and borders at once geographic and cultural, FrancoAmerican writing privileges space as an arena of conflict, and, sometimes, of isolation, subordination, and abuse. It is noteworthy that some Franco-American texts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, mostly written by women (and largely for that audience), expose repressive practices of control in the home and in the workplace, practices that oppress women characters and limit their opportunities for self-determination.1 Franco-American authors as early as Emma Port-Joli Dumas (Mirbah, 1910–12) and Alberte Gastonguay (La Jeune Franco-Américaine, 1933) have written about the exercise of authority and domination under the guise of paternalism, in the person of father or foreman, or in the service of la survivance, the ideology of cultural survival.2 Historian Richard Sorrell characterizes this preservation of French-Canadian culture in industrial centers in New England as a “militant defense of conservatism, Catholicism, and the family” (38). Indeed, a desire to maintain the cultural differences of the migrants – their French language, Roman Catholic faith, and ancestral traditions – figured prominently in neighborhoods dubbed Petits Canadas crowded with three-decker tenements where families sheltered between the grueling 12-hour shifts of a six-day work week. In furthering the cause of cultural maintenance, these linguistically and geographically isolated spaces also perpetuated a certain inflexibility Québec Studies, 61 doi:10.3828/qs.2016.3

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Lees, Cynthia C.