Margaret Laurence

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Does Margaret Laurence mostly compare or contrast Manawaka to the nation in the Manawaka sequence?

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One could argue that Laurence contrasts her prairie town to the nation as a whole by consciously constructing a quintessential prairie town for every Canadian.

The fictional prairie town of Manawaka, which crops up again and again in Margaret Laurence's work, is intended to represent life in Canadian prairie towns as a whole. Anyone who lives in these towns, on reading one of Laurence's books, will immediately be able to identify with the people and the situations presented.

Although Manawaka is a fictional place, Laurence gives it life by incorporating many of her own experiences of growing up in the town of Neepawa, Manitoba. In her writing, Laurence shows an acute awareness of place and how it shapes her characters. She is able to do this to a high level of sophistication because she, too, has been shaped by the Manitoba prairie lands.

The Manawaka series provides a stark contrast between life in small prairie towns—with their traditional values, work ethic, and inter-ethnic tensions—and life in the larger towns and cities where most Canadians live. Among other things, this allows urban readers to gain a unique insight into what life is like in the other Canada, a part of the country they seldom get to see.

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