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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 36 / 185

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Timescape: History Plays and Isolation

30

foster care, in elemental terms: “the day he stormed into my foster home he was wrapped

in furs like an animal. His beard was covered with ice as though he’d burst through the

ice of Superior” (Mitchell 45). Jaanus does not move, he storms. He is more animal than

human. These comparisons, added to the image of Jaanus bursting through Great Lake

ice, cast Jaanus in a supernatural light. Mitchell’s Jaanus fits Frye’s description of the

hero in myth cycles as being “conceived in human likeness and yet hav[ing] more power

over nature” (Bate 608).

Mitchell also places Jaanus side-by-side with central figures of New World

mythology, at least from the perspective of the dominant culture. Bender defends Jaanus

before a crowd of angry neighbours, comparing Jaanus’s dream to that of Canadian

National Dreamer John A. MacDonald’s railroad and Columbus’s attempted voyage to

India: “I bet they all told John A. MacDonald he was crazy to build a railroad across

4,000 miles a wasted hell – but he did her, didn’t he? And when Columbus set off across

the Atlantic, I bet they laughed their heads off! That’s how it is with some guys – they

just go ahead and bloody do it! Well – I like that. [Pause.] So I’m stickin’ by him”

(Mitchell 80). Conveniently absent from Bender’s admiration of great dreamers like

MacDonald and Columbus is an awareness of the cost of such dreams in human lives and

societies lost. Jaanus dreamed a great dream, and still lost everything: his family, his

sanity, his farm, his precious ship, his health, and finally, his life. But Mitchell writes

that Jaanus lived on, despite great loss, because of the power of his dream. In the last

scene of the play, Anna-Marie speaks of Jaanus, locked up in Battleford’s mental

hospital, but his elemental vitality intact:

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