Kevin Major Muriel Whitaker - Essay

Muriel Whitaker

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The strength of Far From Shore lies in the author's ability to present each of the major characters sympathetically in spite of their shortcomings. Through the device of interior monologue, actions and attitudes are provided with an emotional frame of reference that makes them comprehensible. (p. 52)

Major's use of dialogue is particularly admirable both as a means of projecting character and as a device for conveying regional flavour. He catches the rhythms of Newfoundland speech without the peppering of apostrophes that has annoyed me in dialect stories ever since I encountered "Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby" at an early age. Chris's language is also enlivened by the profanity that Salinger's Catcher in the Rye established as a means of expressing teenage turmoil. The deterioration of the boy's social relationships is marked by a corresponding increase in his use of four-letter words….

Kevin Major should also be commended for the fine balance which he strikes between social and economic determinism, on the one hand, and personal responsibility, on the other. It is not Chris's fault that he chooses to waste his time in bad company. Having drifted far from shore, both literally and figuratively, his recognition that "Come right down to it and it was all my own friggin' fault" indicates his new-found maturity. Major's social realism is essentially optimistic. Each of the characters has the opportunity of starting over. (p. 53)

Muriel Whitaker, "Getting Loused Up in Newfoundland," in Canadian Children's Literature; A Journal of Criticism and Review (Box 335, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1H6K5), No. 22, 1981, pp. 50-3.