Mavis Gallant story, "Bernadette"

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 1996

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Fear, it has a way of controlling everything that it comes in contact

with. As young children we are introduced to this intimidating desire

with intrigue and suspicion. As we age, the thoughts of fears become

more like realities, ideas of loneliness and death enter the picture as

comprehensible thoughts and views of the future. These issues make

up the foundation of the Mavis Gallant story 'Bernadette'. In this story

we are presented with the image of a young French Canadian girl, who

finds herself pregnant and without a husband. The context of the story

explores the relationships between the members of the household in a

fear associated manner. The relationship between the Knights and

Bernadette is the base of the story. These three people relate to each

other in an intimidating fashion and this is what makes Bernadette's

predicament so difficult to overcome. As well, the family ties between

Nora and Robbie are explored.

Their family relationship is one based on

dependence, and without this one factor the connection between the two

results in fearfulness of being alone. Fear has a way of attacking our

judgment and this is what makes associations between people an

apprehensive and hard act.

The story is set in Quebec during the 1940-1950, when what you

were was the definition of who you were. As the story opens we are

presented with the main character Bernadette, who is concluding that

she is one hundred and twenty-six days pregnant. At this time in history

it was quit common for young rural girls to bare children at a young

age. However, Bernadette is a single French Canadian girl who is

working and living in a urban community, where things like that do not

take place. We are here introduced to the first fear presented in the...