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THEMES OF ISOLATION IN SASKATCHEWAN RADIO DRAMA - page 88 / 185

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Bodyscape: Isolation, Health, and the Woman’s Voice

82

The real story of health in the play is the decline of Barr and his desperate last

attempt at creating a legacy of his life’s work. As the episodes progress, Barr continues

to try to work despite being hospitalized. The sicker Barr gets, the less lucid he is. Barr

loses himself in the past and becomes isolated from the present and those in it. The first

few episodes find Barr cantankerous, but actively exchanged in conversations with

those he knows and loves. He swaps stories with his old media cronies. He exchanges

barbs with his daughter, Pat, who is caring for her dad during his illness. As Barr gets

sicker, he finds this arrangement unsettling. He complains, “I don’t wanna be looked

after, I want to look after.” Such a statement echoes Barr’s earlier statements against

Douglas’s and the CCF’s plan for universal healthcare, which Barr dismisses as being

like “that damn cradle-to-grave socialism in Sweden.” As Barr gets sicker, he becomes

increasingly unable to communicate with Pat. Barr’s estranged son comes to visit, but

they cannot reconcile. His illness isolates him from his daughter, his friends, and his

self-image as a strong and capable father. Barr admits that he wants to write a book that

will prove to his ex-wife that Douglas was not the “saint” she thought he was. Yet, one

reason Barr’s marriage fell apart is that he placed work ahead of his marriage. After

Barr retires, he has time for his wife again, but she is long gone. Barr seems to pursue

this Douglas project in order to avoid facing his own mistakes.

Memories of his own past and Douglas’s most famous speeches become more

real to him than his present situation. It is in the second-last episode, as Barr is close to

death, that Douglas’s voice turns to healthcare, intoning “never again will there be a

price tag on health”. Barr tries to rid himself of the memory of Douglas with, “Get out,

Tommy! This is my story, I’m telling it!” It doesn’t work. Barr’s last words, “I have

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