‘The Loons’ by Margaret Laurence

The Loons by Margaret Laurence, 1970

The magic trick:

Showing the story of one relationship by telling the story of another

Our fifth and final Margaret Laurence story of the week, this one isn’t quite like the others. This one, unlike the previous stories in the A Bird In The House collection, expands beyond the story’s immediate timeline – first, three years later, and then, seven years later.

The epilogue treatment adds to the story’s power. But the true gem here is the way the story focuses the bulk of its word count on the character of Piquette only to leave the reader realizing that the story was about something entirely different. Piquette mainly serves as a way for us to better understand Vanessa’s relationship with her father and just how lucky she was for it.

And that’s quite a trick on Laurence’s part.

The selection:

“Do you like this place?” I asked, after a while, intending to lead on from there into the question of forest lore.

Piquette shrugged. “It’s okay. Good as anywhere.”

“I love it,” I said. “We come here every summer.”

“So what?” Her voice was distant, and I glanced at her uncertainly, wondering what I could have said wrong.

“Do you want to come for a walk?” I asked her. “We wouldn’t need to go far. If you walk just around the point there, you come to a bay where great big reeds grow in the water, and all kinds of fish hang around there. Want to? Come on.”

She shook her head.

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