Landscape: Quandt and Isolation
compound as he gets colder. He observes that, “the act of dying is entirely involuntary.
There is no will in it.” In Arctic Landscapes, death is compared to sleep. Even the man's
senses begin to desert him until only his sense of smell keeps him alive. He is brought
back to consciousness by the smell of gasoline that has spilled from his punctured gas
tank. This gas flows “like blood over the snow.” The man’s snowmobile becomes a
once-living thing that has died and left him alone. Eventually, the man is found and
rescued by his co-workers. Or, in terms of Frye’s hero, he is resurrected from the edge of
death, offering the hope of lifting his plotline past the tragic archetype. His isolation is
ended, and he is saved by his community. The ending reinforces the idea that, without a
community to support him, nature would have been the death of this man who blundered
into it unprepared.
In the second monologue, a woman recalls her son tobogganing onto thin ice and
drowning. Death becomes a void again as she describes her son sinking into the water
“like a figure on a piece of paper being slowly erased.” Her son wore a yellow snowsuit.
The colour yellow becomes a colour of death. She feels left “alone with yellow dreams.”
She tells of how her husband found his grandfather dead in the garage with a yellow scarf
stuffed into the tailpipe of his car. If gasoline represents life to the man freezing with his
snowmobile, gasoline's exhaust becomes an image of death to the woman and her
husband. The smell of gasoline keeps the freezing man aware he is still alive, but the
mourning mother has a different, more emotional tie keeping her aware. She says, “hurt
makes me know I'm here.” The woman's loneliness is not only a longing for her lost son.
She says grief has emptied her and driven her away from her husband, who “cannot put
his arms around the shell I carry.” Insomnia fuels her loneliness. In contrast to the man