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.)