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Assignment 2: Discuss the theme of entrapment and desire for freedom in the Bird in the House by Margaret Lawrence

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Introduction

Dione Joseph Assignment 2: Discuss the theme of entrapment and desire for freedom in the Bird in the House by Margaret Lawrence Margaret Laurence's A Bird in the House, is a collection of short stories that chronicles a young girl's journey from the innocence of childhood to the experience of adulthood. The daunting world of knowledge, pain, turmoil, injustice and cruelty is revealed by slow degrees to finally unveil existence as we know it. Existences that we willingly embrace yet are simultaneously repelled by. A number of themes and sub themes are established in the novel, but perhaps the most prominent is the theme of entrapment and the desire for freedom. Physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually we are all bound by certain laws - but the desire for freedom can only arise when we allow either a certain laxity or an additional rigidness to the boundaries that define our very being. We can be free only if we have been trapped - in order to appreciate the liberating nature of freedom we must be pushed to the most extreme of our entrapment, and this is what Laurence aims to do in A bird in the House. ...read more.

Middle

Ewen, Vanessa's father, receives pay for his services in the form of poultry and cannot afford 'anything as classy as a maid'. While he longs to give his family the life they deserve "I never thought it would be this way Beth' there is nothing he can do. Aunt Edna returned to Manawaka to keep house for her parents after the agency where she worked in Winnipeg had to cut down staff. Grandmother MacLeod was 'interested in being a lady' and while money is tight and she finds freedom in ordering from the catalogue Irish linen. Piquette, a half breed, young Indian woman at the age of seventeen is 'engaged to an English fella'. Her defiant face, momentarily, became unguarded and unmasked, and in her eyes there was terrifying hope' Vanessa the adult points out to the reader, how great her need must have been, that she had been forced to seek the very things she so bitterly rejected. Perhaps the most interesting example of social entrapment is young Chris. An intelligent young man, wanting to 'build bridges' is shot down repeatedly. As readers we admire his dogged perseverance, selling vacuum cleaners, selling magazines, knitting machine. ...read more.

Conclusion

The loss of Vanessa's father precipitates a loss of faith which is a kind of psychic death. "Rest beyond the river. I knew what that meant - it meant nothing. It meant only silence, forever. In a later story, Vanessa thinks of the view of God she has since her father's death: Distant, indestructible, totally indifferent. The bird trapped between the two layers of her window is not simply an omen of death but an image of trapped humanity, apparently capable only of meaningless movements. The empurpled religious visions of Noreen are as unacceptable to Vanessa as the rigid Puritan code of Grandmother Macleod. Vanessa reacting to her father's death by striking Noreen is also the bird, blindly battling to get out.He is not in heaven because there is no heaven.And it doesn't matter, see? It doesn't matter? However she says later' itmattered bu there was no help for it." As I watched the smile of the girl turn into scorched paper,I grieved for my father as though he had just died. She grieves for her Grandmother and wonders whether her 'ransomed soul' ever did find rest beyond the river. ...read more.

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