Who Has Seen the Wind

by W. O. Mitchell

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Critical Context

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Who Has Seen the Wind, in the context of Canadian literature, earned for Mitchell the stature of a minor Mark Twain. Like Twain, Mitchell was seen as a raconteur who offered penetrating yet humorous insights into the human situation. In fact, Mitchell’s novel is recognized as firmly resting in the tradition Twain established. All critics agree that Mitchell, like Twain, used the children’s novel for profound effects. The novel represents a sharp, at times biting and acidic, commentary on social deception and hypocrisy. The work, too, deals in depth with the problems the young face as they must necessarily come to terms with a puzzling, often incoherent, inconsistent world.

By relating the material of the novel to the perspective of a child, Mitchell has treated the profound and complex in a way that is readily accessible. Young and old readers will strongly identify with Brian’s responses. Mitchell’s celebration of innocence, spontaneity, and natural freedom suggests that such values must always be cherished in the face of the impending darkness which can never be evaded.

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