Timescape: History Plays and Isolation
hope. Frank’s move from Winnipeg to the crooked Scot’s employ took him away from
humane society and just treatment. Frank gains a brief respite from some of his isolation
at the Baxter’s farm where he works for the summer, Frye’s last archetypal stop before
the seasonal swing to tragedy begins. So far, Frank’s journey has been marked by
Frank’s progressive disillusionment with the Utopian dreams he had upon setting out.
This completes Frye’s image of the hero withdrawing from the world by homesteading
alone in Saskatchewan in the winter. Then, Frank dies of influenza, thus completing
Frye’s winter/death of the hero archetypal images. But with the spring comes hope.
Until he falls ill, Frank’s dream of Utopia in the Last Best West sustain him through the
winter. The birth of his son Charlie inspires Frank to build a home worthy of his new
family. Frank’s aspirations and inspirations are the stuff of Frye’s comic cycle: birth,
spring, and Utopias. Frank’s life, however, ends tragically. The fate of his widow and
their child remains uncertain as a new winter approaches without the sustaining help of
Frank and his dream.
Another observation of note in The First Step occurs when Frank claims the
Saskatchewan prairie “truly is the land God gave to Cain.” This is not the only example
of a character making observations about the isolation of prairie landscape in religious or
biblical terms. First impressions of the prairie are especially startling when a character
has come from another country. The dire descriptions of the landscape and skyscape of
the prairies by The First Step’s Frank Dobson contrast sharply with the image of a
benevolent and heavenly prairie and prairie sky presented by Edouard Beaupré in The