I have several questions about the novel Black Robe by Brian Moore and its film adaptation.
Why are the French in Quebec?
What are they doing in the French village (which will become Quebec City) in the first few scenes?
Do the various French individuals we meet in the story have similar or different—perhaps even conflicting—motivations?
The historical novel Black Robe by Brian Moore was published in 1985, and made into a film in 1991, with a screenplay by Moore. It is set in Quebec in 1634 during the period known as the Beaver or Iroquois Wars. The novel and subsequent film reflect the interactions between the French and the First Nations tribes, showing how the economic effects of colonialism led to some of the bloodiest and most tragic conflicts in North American, doing irreparable harm to many tribes. The novel focuses on the conflicts between the spiritual beliefs of Christianity and those of the First Nations, trying to portray both with understanding.
There were two major reasons for the French presence. First, the Jesuits were Roman Catholic missionaries. The black cassocks worn by the Jesuits are the black robes of the title. The purpose of the Jesuits, and especially the characters Father LaForgue and Rev. Fernand Jerome, were to convert the First Nations to Roman Catholicism, although their personal motivations can be complex. Chomina is a more complex character, a visionary who is following a spiritual quest. Samuel de Champlain was an explorer, driven to some degree by curiosity, but also appointed by Louis XIII to be an administrator of the French territories in Quebec. Part of his job was to establish positive relationships with the local peoples to support the fur trade.