Characters

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 412

The protagonist and narrator of the text is named Christine , nicknamed "Petite Misere" (Little Miss Misery) by her father. The book presents a series a stories that begin when she is a small child through her adolescence, and she is the youngest child of eight (her mother had nine...

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The protagonist and narrator of the text is named Christine, nicknamed "Petite Misere" (Little Miss Misery) by her father. The book presents a series a stories that begin when she is a small child through her adolescence, and she is the youngest child of eight (her mother had nine babies, but one daughter died very young). Christine's childhood perception and narration of events mean that we sometimes have to read between the lines, because she does not completely understand some of the behaviors and feelings of others that she observes.

Her mother, who she calls Maman, figures largely in the text because Christine spends so much time with her. Maman is a devoted wife and mother, to be sure, but she seems unfulfilled by her life; she longs for freedom, to travel and see more of the country and her and her husband's family. She is proud and capable and loving.

Christine's father works for the government to resettle immigrant groups that come to make their homes in Canada. He loves his work and is often away from home for long stretches of time; when he is at home, he often seems quite down, even depressed, and he is not always the most attentive father though he deeply loves his family and those families that he helps to resettle.

One of Christine's older sisters, Odette, "had no inclination for men," and she grows up to become a nun. Christine's oldest sister, Georgianna, left home the year Christine was born, so they don't know each other very well. She marries a man of whom her parents do not approve, and Maman tries to stop the wedding. Another sister, Alicia, suffers a terrible fever that seems to leave her with some kind of brain damage. Eventually, she no longer recognizes her family and must be committed to a hospital for the remainder of her short life. Still another sister, Agnes, seems to be their father's favorite; he tells her a great deal more about his life and experiences than he does anyone else in the family. When Agnes shares some of his stories, it's the most in-depth information they've ever heard about his work and feelings. One brother, Robert, later gives Christine a little money so that she can indulge her growing love of jewelry.

There are other characters who show up for one story, or even part of a story, but the main characters who most impact Christine are really her family members.

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