(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Who Has Seen the Wind, like Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn (1884) or William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954), is a children’s book written for adults. The novel traces Brian O’Connal’s quest for knowledge, tracing his development from the age of four to the age of twelve. He is a pleasant and likable small-town boy who searches for the order, pattern, and significance underlying the chaos of human experience. The novel is called Who Has Seen the Wind to suggest that Brian is moved by a force that he cannot see directly. The rare and moving spiritual joy that he has sometimes felt, like the wind on his neck and arms, tells him that there is some “force” at work in his world, although he cannot perceive it directly.

The novel is structured chronologically, and the reader follows Brian’s growth and maturation. Brian recognizes that death is ever present and inevitable. As he matures, scenes of death become increasingly significant for him. He gradually learns to accept death’s presence in his world. As he matures, he learns to cope with the fact that his dog Jappy is killed, that a gopher can be cruelly tortured by boys, that his friend Fat must accept the loss of his rabbits, that his father and grandmother can and do die.

The realization that death is inevitable is, however, only one of the concerns of this book. Brian, not understanding the force that gives him sudden elation even in the face of...

(The entire section is 526 words.)


(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Cameron, Donald. Conversations with Canadian Novelists. Vol. 2, 1973.

Latham, Sheila. W. O. Mitchell: An Annotated Bibliography, 1981.

Peterman, Michael. “W. O. Mitchell,” in Profiles in Canadian Literature. Vol. 2, 1980.

Ricou, Lawrence. “The Eternal Prairie: The Fiction of W. O. Mitchell,” in Vertical Man, Horizontal World, 1973.