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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 63 / 185

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Timescape: History Plays and Isolation

57

orchards in Saskatchewan; North of Moose Jaw’s Alec can’t get rich quick in his sod

house in the middle of winter. When Atwood’s battle between straight-line (man or

settler) and curve rages, straight-line can only expect to win a pyrrhic victory. This

agricultural struggle and failure would ring true to a Saskatchewan listener within an

economy beginning to feel the effects of plummeting grain prices after the relative boom

of the 1970s. Listeners could draw several positive experiences from these stories:

assurance in the resiliency of their community which has survived hard times in the past;

relief from feeling alone or isolated with feelings of doubt and despair over their future;

even some very old-fashioned Aristotelian catharsis.

Throughout most of these plays, there are persistent themes of isolation. This

isolation can be cultural. Those living outside of the dominant culture are isolated, like

Piapot in his jail cell, Beaupré in the human zoo, and Sukanen within the mental hospital.

The isolation can be at the hands of progress, like Mr. Nelson, who was bumped out of

his threshing-crew dream-career too early and never could find a place in the world once

progress left him behind. The prairie landscape and climate often serve as sources of

isolation. Settlers like Frank Dobson find themselves alone in a vast new place. Frank’s

initial attraction to the initial beauty of the landscape turns to feelings of despair and

desolation as he faces his first winter alone on the prairie. In North of Moose Jaw, Alec

goes adventuring to avoid the prairie winter. Jessie, Alec’s wife, decides she cannot

remain in a marriage where her husband abandons her to face the prairie winter alone in

their sod house. Jessie’s physical isolation heightens her psychological isolation within

her marriage.

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