The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Morag is the central focus of the narrative, and her life, from the earliest memories to her current state, is presented in detail. Her personality was formed in part by Christie Logan’s bitter defiance of the polite world of Manawaka and in part by her shame at being reared by the Logans. Once she leaves Manawaka, she cannot return to help them, even when Prin and then Christie sicken and die. While Morag learns to accept her background and even to take pride in it, she knows that she has suffered there too much and will be lost if she returns; Jules shares her aversion to Manawaka, with even more bitter resentment.

Jules shares much with Morag, including their successful sexual relationship, but he cannot forgive her for being part of the world of the whites who have seized western Canada from the Indians and the Metis. Unalterably bitter at his outcast status, he is further embittered when a sister and her two children are burned to death in their shack, a young brother is killed mysteriously on a hunting trip, and another sister dies of drink and disappointment. He scratches out a living as an itinerant composer and singer of country music long before the popularity of that brand of music; although he sees Pique only three or four times, he passes on to her a musical legacy.

The other characters are, for the most part, sharply and individually delineated. Even Brooke, who cannot allow Morag to have children or to achieve success as a...

(The entire section is 479 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Morag Gunn

Morag Gunn, the protagonist, a forty-seven-year-old novelist writing the novel containing her story. As she looks back over her life, she believes that her artistic talent always was evident. After her parents died of poliomyelitis, she was reared by Christie Logan in a poor part of town where Métis (half-breeds), like her first lover, Jules, also lived. She grew up listening to Christie haranguing about the muck of life in the past and present. Christie thought he was creating pride and identity in Morag by telling her stories about her family, the Gunns, coming from Scotland to Manitoba. Morag also wrote her own stories, which she later reworked to create stories of family history for her daughter, Pique. Writing for local, college, and Vancouver newspapers enlarges Morag’s sensitivities about the Métis, the Gersons, and others. Her passion leads to an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, however, just as her spirit of independence leads her to leave her husband.

Jules “Skinner” Tonnerre

Jules “Skinner” Tonnerre, Morag’s first lover. While Morag was still in her teens, Jules seduced her in his father’s shack. He told Morag tales of the Métis view of encounters with Scottish emigrants, such as his grandfather who fought with Riel at Batoche and lost.

Pique Gunn Tonnerre

Pique Gunn Tonnerre, Morag and Jules’s daughter. In a London school, she does not experience prejudice like she does as a teenager in the high school in the small Ontario town of McConnell’s Landing. She stands up to...

(The entire section is 648 words.)