Landscape: Quandt and Isolation
winter. She joins other lonely winter-bound women like The First Step’s Lily and Jessie
of North of Moose Jaw to develop a powerful collage of isolation. Their isolation is both
physical (they are alone on the farm) and emotional (their husbands are gone or dead).
Also dead is any dream of building a happy and successful life in their new country.
The Sea focuses on psychological threats or pain. The play is set near water, an
element Atwood compares to the unconscious, and Frye to the unformed world. The
three characters in The Sea are all troubled souls who keep silent and therefore cannot
help each other. They are a community of three that refuse to see each other’s pain.
While not all contemporary Saskatchewan radio dramas deal in such dark, cold fare,
Quandt’s radio plays feature recurring themes of isolation, both physical and emotional,
that run through other works focusing on present day as well as historical Saskatchewan.
The lesson of the plays explored in the last two chapters is that community and
communication are vital to health and survival. Sukanen’s spirit broke when his
community turned on him in both Dustship Glory and The Shipbuilder. Beaupre, in The
Giant Who Wept, felt that his home and home landscape could heal him, even if they
were never given the chance. In the beginning of And Did the Dog See This?, Piapot
journeyed from being without community, his band having died when he was a baby to
leading his own, strong community; then struggling to keep it strong in the face of the
advancing settler horde. His determination to preserve such traditions as the Sun Dance
speaks to his hope for the future of his people, though his imprisonment by an
unsympathetic European Canadian bureaucracy suggests that it is, at best, hope deferred.
His grandson, though not physically confined in the same way, continues to struggle with
his cultural isolation in the Presbyterian Industrial School that the bureaucrats view as his