Comparative Essay: Ana Historic by Daphne Marlatt and Ravensong by Lee Maracle
April 14st 2010
Word Count: 2,240
Ana Historic is a poetic novel about a woman named Annie who discovers Mrs.Richards, a woman of no history, in Vancouver’s civic archives. Annie becomes obsessed with the possibilities of Mrs. Richards’ life. The novel is written by Daphne Marlatt, a Canadian poet. Ravensong is a fictional novel about a seventeen year-old native girl who tries to bridge the gap between the traditional ways of her Native village and white society’s invasive new values. Ravensong is written by Lee Maracle, a First Nations writer and poet. Both of these novels have brought forth important issues pertaining to Women’s and Gender Studies such as colonialism, sexuality, fear of violence, and lesbianism. This paper will focus on the topic of sexuality and colonialism. These two novels have further educated me on many things. For example, after reading Ana Historic, I discovered that there are various narrative forms and styles other than traditional European models. Daphne Marlatt uses writing styles such as écriture feminine; in which feminist writers “try to use their own bodies as a source for writing” (Sand 10) and gynesis, which is an “aesthetic strategy which puts gender, sexuality and maternity into public discourse” (Sand 10). I also learned how femininity is constructed in a white middle class environment through what is considered appropriate conduct for a woman (Sand 10). After reading Ravensong, I discovered that in traditional aboriginal culture, men never entered the house of single women without a man being present (Maracle 103). This novel has also taught me about the important role of Raven, the trickster who is used to dissolve the boundaries between Native and white culture (Sand 20). The novels are very different in terms of narrative styles, point-of-views, time periods, and how lesbianism and the role of nature play out in the story. Daphne Marlatt uses a postmodern narrative style, while Lee Maracle uses a combination of aboriginal and European narrative approaches. Ravensong is written from the point-of-view of a young native woman, whereas Ana Historic is written from the outlook of a white, middle-class woman. Lesbianism plays out differently in each novel. In Ana Hisotric, Annie slowly comes to terms with her sexuality and eventually realizes that she is a lesbian. In Ravensong, Stacey’s friends Rena and German Judy are a lesbian couple. The role of nature in Ravensong is indivisible from human life and landscape (Sand 20), where as in Ana Historic it is a place of comfort and cause of fear (Sand 20). Ravensong takes place in the 1950s and Ana Historic takes place mostly in the 1950s and 1870s (Mrs. Richards). Colonialism and sexuality are topics which are closely correlated. They are both about dominance, regulation, discourse and race. Sexuality is defined as the historical organization and regulation of desire and sexual practices into social identities that are constructed as if they emerge from nature (Sand 18). Daphne Marlatt and Lee Maracle deal with this subject in very different ways. In Ravensong, sexuality is associated with shame and suicide. In Ana historic, sexuality is associated with mothering and lesbianism. Colonialism is the extension of a nation’s sovereignty over territory beyond its borders by the establishment of either settle colonies or creating administrative dependencies in which native or indigenous populations are directly ruled (Patel 8). Ravensong is written from the perspective of colonized people whereas Ana Historic is written from the standpoint of the colonizers. In the novel Ana Historic, Ina’s mothering impacts Annie’s perception of sexuality. Ina taught her daughters sexuality was something to be afraid of “you taught us your fear, you taught us what you knew about a world where even uncles...
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