Margaret Laurence -

Margaret Laurence -

Margaret Laurence Unit 2: Canada Short Bio Jean Margaret Laurence, CC (ne Wemyss) (18 July 1926 5 January 1987) was a Canadian novelist and short story writer, and is one of the major figures in Canadian literature. She was also a founder of the Writers' Trust of Canada, a non- profit literary organization that seeks to encourage Canada's writing community. The daughter of solicitor Robert Wemyss and Verna Jean

Simpson. Her mother died when she was four, after which a maternal aunt, Margaret Simpson, came to take care of the family. A year later Margaret Simpson married Robert Wemyss, and in 1933 they adopted a son, Robert. In 1935, when Laurence was nine, Robert Wemyss Sr. died of pneumonia. Laurence then moved into her maternal grandfather's home with her stepmother and brother. She

lived in Neepawa until she was 18. Laurence graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in 1947. Laurence began writing short stories in her teenage years while in Neepawa. Her first published piece "The Land of Our Father" was submitted to a competition held by the Winnipeg Free Press. This story contains the first appearance of the name "Manawaka" (a fictional Canadian town used in many of her later works). Novels This Side Jordan (1960) The Stone Angel (1964) A Jest of God (1966) The Fire-Dwellers (1969)

The Diviners (1974) Short story collections The Tomorrow-Tamer (1963) A Bird in the House (1970) A Bird in the House A Bird in the House, first published in 1970, is a

short story sequence written by Margaret Laurence. Noted by Laurence to be "semi-autobiographical. The series chronicles the growing up of a young agnostic writer, Vanessa MacLeod, in the fictional town of Manawaka, Manitoba. Written from the perspective of Vanessa at age forty, while she recalls her childhood (with the exception of the final chapter Jericho's Brick Battlements, when she revisits her childhood home). It is therefore impossible to tell if young Vanessa was truly able to understand the events unfolding around her, or if she gained that understanding later in life.

It was originally published as a series of independent short stories. Structure: In groups, discuss the following with evidence from the story: Setting (time and place) Plot (important events climax and resolution) Tone (narrators attitude) Is the story told in chronological order? Does it contain flashbacks?

Characterization Consider these secondary characters and think about adjectives that illustrate how they behave in the story: Beth (mother) Grandmother MacLeod Ewen (father) Noreen (the maid) Vanessa Make a timeline that begins at the parade and ends when Vanessa burns the photo.

In this timeline, include adjectives, phrases or words that you associate with her behaviour throughout the story. Do you think Vanessa emerges as a changed 17 year old woman at the end of the story? Themes for each of these themes, find two examples from the story Coming of age (growing

up) Religious Beliefs War Death Entrapment Symbols Suggest 3 symbols that are present in the story and explain:

Their presence What they stand for Other associations we may make with these symbols (regardless of the meanings attributed to in the story) Title: A Bird in the House Sparrow: (gorrin). A family of passerine (songbird) birds. Sparrow: Symbolism

1) A sparrow as a spirit animal may have different meanings. This small bird usually symbolizes joy and protection, but it can also be a symbol of simplicity and community. Team work and hard work are what make the sparrows productive. 2) Greek Mythology: Symbol of Love The sparrow was a sacred bird to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and symbolised true love and a spiritual connection, not just lust. (Although in contradiction to this, sparrows are often regarded

as the most lustful and sexually active birds!) In Troy, 9 sparrows were eaten by a snake and this foretold 9 years of war! 3) Folkore: Death Omen In European folklore, a sparrow flying into the home is seen as a sign of impending death! One variation of this superstition is that in Kent, England, the person who catches one must kill it or else his parents will die! Other variations include one that the catcher must kill it or else he will be the one who dies.

Luckily for the sparrow, they rarely fly into people's homes and most people no longer feel the need to kill one if it does! In Literature Sparrows have been represented in literature throughout history, from the ancient Greek and Roman poets, to numerous religious texts, and later by Chaucer and Shakespeare. The brothers Grimm wrote a particularly gruesome fairy tale about one. In the bible, they were used as offerings given by the very poor, and represent the concern of God for even the smallest and most insignificant lifeforms. Chaucer and Shakespeare both use sparrows to denote lecherous or

promiscuous behaviour. Sparrows are still depicted in literature today, from soul catchers in horror stories to poetry. Quotes to discuss In some families, please is described as the magic word. In our house, however, it was sorry. (p. 2) I wanted my father to myself, so I could prove to him that I cared more about him than any of the others did. (p. 3) I stared at Noreen as though she were a sorceress. (p.

7) I would have liked to take my fathers hand, as I used to do, but I was too old for that now. (p. 8) When the limits of endurance have been reached, then people must sleep. (10) I grieved for my father, as though he had just died now. (p. 13)

Journal entry #4 Choose ONE to write about: 1) Would you recommend this story? Why, why not? Give three reasons and support them. 2) Discuss the influence of Noreen over Vanessa. 3) Draw your favourite part of the story and write a few sentences describing it in your own words.

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