The major issues in the stories of Home Truths, and in all Gallant’s fiction, are those of alienation, personal freedom, the low status of children, and the difficulties of being a woman in a man’s world. Drawing from her observations of her father (who was an exile from England), of other refugees in Canada during World War II, and of her own experience of living in Europe as an expatriate from Canada, Gallant has created and explored characters who are alienated by choice or by fortune and who are trying, usually with little success, to find peace of mind in unfamiliar and indifferent places.

Having survived a childhood in which she was treated as an inconvenience, moving and changing schools at someone else’s whim, Gallant frequently writes about issues of personal freedom. Linnet Muir placed a high degree of importance on attaining independence and vowed “that I would never be helpless again and that I would not let anyone make a decision on my behalf.” Muir’s fellow Canadians prefer the status quo and are uncomfortable with those who would veer from it. Gallant seems to take pleasure in having her heroine break from this rigidity. This need for freedom stems from a childhood with no freedoms, but when Muir succeeds in finding work as the first woman in a wartime government office, she finds there is never freedom, only different kinds of slavery. The men there are tied to unfulfilling jobs, and working with them does not make her a part of the group. She too has an unfulfilling job, but she is treated as a lesser person.

Gallant has made a deliberate effort to look carefully at her childhood and has concluded that children very often do not get the...

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