Two Solitudes has much of the panoramic quality of John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga (1922), though it is informed by a more partisan attitude. Superficially a chronicle of two generations of Canadians in the Montreal region~, it is in fact a penetrating study of the beliefs and behaviors, the myths and animosities, that have caused French-Canadians and English-Canadians to resist amalgamation into a homogeneous nation and to exist as two separate peoples, uncommunicative and isolated. Yet the novel transcends the communal barriers and abstractions in its delineation of individual differences, attitudes, and yearnings; not only are the two racial groups solitary, but also individuals fail to establish meaningful communications.
When Athanese Tallard, the Seigneur of Saint-Marc-des-Erables, introduces the non-Catholic Captain John Yardley to the parish as purchaser of the Dansereau farm, he arouses latent hostility in the closed society; when he proposes building a small power station and a factory in association with Huntly McQueen, Father Emile Beaubien interprets this as a threat to his hegemony and to the parish’s traditions. Marius, a protegee of Beaubien, believes that his father is a heretic, “a traitor to his race and religion,” and speaks against conscription, which Tallard supports. Marius’ animosity to his father, however, is largely the result of his having heard Athanese having sex with Kathleen while Marius’...
(The entire section is 595 words.)