Stacey MacAindra thoroughly dominates the novel. Margaret Laurence uses her to examine the role of wife/mother in a modern family in which the mother feels both nourished and devoured by her children. Although Stacey performs all the routine duties associated with being a mother and knows that bringing up four children is a worthwhile occupation, she fears that she is spending her life in one unbroken series of trivialities. She wants something of her own. She wants to stand as herself and communicate with her husband, her children, and the world. It is not simply the crisis of turning forty that causes her to exclaim to God,I stand in relation to my life both as child and as parent, never quite finished with old battles, never able to arbitrate properly the new, able to look both ways, but whichever way I look, God, it looks pretty confusing to me.
This woman facing forty is a frightened little girl who senses that her inability to communicate with others cannot be all her fault. She is a prairie girl from Manawaka who left home at nineteen for the big city of Vancouver, certain that life there would be better than it was in the tomb-like silence in which she dwelled with her parents. Her life is indeed better than her parents’ lives, but better is not good enough. Stacey wants to express her true self to the people she loves. She is a responsible person and has no real intention of walking away from her obligations. She will survive if all survival...
(The entire section is 521 words.)