Mavis Gallant's Bernadette
Fear, it has a way of controlling everything that it comes in contact with. As young children we are introduced to this intimidating desire with intrigue and suspicion. As we age, the thoughts of fears become more like realities, ideas of loneliness and death enter the picture as comprehensible thoughts and views of the future. These issues make up the foundation of the Mavis Gallant story "Bernadette". In this story we are presented with the image of a young French Canadian girl, who finds herself pregnant and without a husband. The context of the story explores the relationships between the members of the household in a fear associated manner. The relationship between the Knights and Bernadette is the base of the story. These three people relate to each other in an intimidating fashion and this is what makes Bernadette's predicament so difficult to overcome. As well, the family ties between Nora and Robbie are explored. Their family relationship is one based on dependence, and without this one factor the connection between the two results in fearfulness of being alone. Fear has a way of attacking our judgment and this is what makes associations between people an apprehensive and hard act.
The story is set in Quebec during the 1940-1950, when what you were was the definition of who you were. As the story opens we are presented with the main character Bernadette, who is concluding that she is one hundred and twenty-six days pregnant. At this time in history it was quit common for young rural girls to bare children at a young age. However, Bernadette is a single French Canadian girl who is working and living in a urban community, where things like that do not take place. We are here introduced to the first fear presented in the story: --How will Bernadette tell the Knights that she is pregnant? -- The answer to the question is what haunts her, and the reaction of the Knights is the anxiety that builds up...
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