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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 15 / 185

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Introduction: Isolation, Radio Drama, and Saskatchewan

9

indifferent nature is usually a dead man, and certainly a threatened one” (Survival 54).

This threatened character can be in grave danger, for “Death by Nature – not to be

confused with ‘natural deaths’ such as heart attacks – is an event of startling frequency in

Canadian Literature; in fact it seems to polish off far more people in literature than it does

in real life” (Atwood 54). To Canadian authors, Nature has several means at her disposal

for dispatching characters, but the two most popular are “drowning and freezing,

drowning being preferred by poets – probably because it can be used as a metaphor for a

descent into the unconscious – and freezing by prose writers … there is lots of water and

snow in Canada and both make good murder weapons” (Atwood 55). Both of these

methods are at play in the three plays of James Quandt studied here.

Nature as Woman is another common image in Canadian literature. Atwood

muses, “Let us suppose that Woman is Nature, or Nature is woman. Obviously the kinds

of female figures that can be imagined will then depend on what kind of place you live

in” (Atwood 200). This image comes from Atwood’s musings about the kind of woman

that seems most prevalent here, for “if you trusted Canadian fiction you would have to

believe that most of the women in the country with any real presence are all over fifty,

and a tough, sterile, suppressed and granite-jawed lot they are” (Survival 199). Hagar

Shipley from Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel is invoked by Atwood as a typical

ice or granite woman icon (Survival 199). Atwood does acknowledge the counter-

argument to “Women-Nature metaphors or equations … based on the kinds of limiting

mystiques about women such metaphors foster” and credits them as valid to a point;

however, “these are the patterns literature makes – literature created by women as well as

men” (200).

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