*Quebec City. French settlement on the St. Lawrence River, in what is now Canada’s province of Quebec, that is the novel’s principal setting. The oldest section of the city is enclosed within walls. The lower city is at the level of the river, and the upper city stands on palisades several hundred feet higher. Steep steps connect the two parts.
As the novel opens, Euclide Auclair, a pharmacist, watches a ship depart for France, thinking that the river’s building ice floes will prevent any new ships from arriving from France for at least six months. He is not depressed by the physical isolation of the French immigrants from their native land. He and other colonists have attempted to recreate French culture in the harsh climate of Quebec and have also tried to coexist with Native Canadians, whom they do not truly understand. Missionaries, including the real historical figures of Bishop Laval and Sister Marie of the Incarnation, have built French schools and churches in Quebec. They have also introduced innovations that do not exist in France. In the quiet isolation of Quebec City, these two missionaries are adapting to their new country and introducing changes that enable French immigrants and Native Canadians to respect each other’s cultures.
As the French immigrants adapt to life in Canada, they eventually come to realize that they will never return to France. With Bishop’s Laval’s blessing, Father...
(The entire section is 519 words.)