Margaret Laurence’s novel The Diviners reveals three generations of Canadian women who face numerous obstacles in surviving and leading meaningful lives. During Morag’s childhood, the orphaned girl is taken in by Christie and Prin. Her adoptive parents live in poverty but do their best to instill pride and resilience in the child. Prin, however, presents Morag with a maternal role model who sublimates her desires in food, which hinders the girl from developing a positive attitude toward female capabilities.
As Morag matures, her lack of confidence feeds into her marriage to Brooke, an older, accomplished man. He not only wants to control her movements and work but also opposes the idea of having children. Morag asserts her independence through a brief affair with Jules, which helps her get out of her marriage. However, as she soon becomes a mother, financial woes plague her in trying to support herself and her daughter, Pique.
Morag’s professional development as a writer both enables her to achieve some financial stability and fits with her growing independence. Returning from England, she sees that a relationship with a male partner is not a key element in her personal or professional success. Later in the novel, Pique struggles with issues of identity, in part because of her heritage as a Métis.