Street of Riches is a semiautobiographical work, evoking childhood memories and experiences through a veil of fiction. The original title, which refers to Deschambault Street in Saint-Boniface, Roy’s birthplace, serves to anchor the eighteen stories forming the work in a psychological topography traveled from early childhood to adolescence by the main character, Christine, whose narrative focus is continued in The Road Past Altamont.
For Roy, childhood is undeniably a magical time, filled with curiosity, discovery, hope, and nurturing. It is also the period to which adults return, following the cycle of life, which Christine herself comes to experience. It represents potential, growth, and learning, all of which define in later years the sensibilities and values of Roy’s adult protagonist. The use of the first-person narrative reinforces the quest for truth and knowledge. “Know thyself”: This is indeed what the young Christine attempts through interactions with her own inner being, with family members, as well as other individuals who loom large in her life.
In such pieces as “Petite Misère” (“Little Miss Misery”), “Mon Chapeau rose” (“My Pink Hat”), “Ma Coqueluche” (“My Whooping Cough”), and “Il s’en va gagner notre vie” (“To Earn My Living”) Christine poignantly retraces her personal development from the extremely sensitive little girl, who, nicknamed “Little Miss Misery” by...
(The entire section is 434 words.)