Date of Award

12-2002

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Modern Languages & Classics

Advisor

Raymond Pelletier

Second Committee Member

Susan Pinette

Third Committee Member

Bertille Beaulieu

Abstract

In most people's minds the word "Acadian" is synonomous with "Deportation." Between 1755 ans 1763, the British government deported seventy-five percent of the French Neutrals of Acadia, an estimated 11,000 men, women, and children. Immediately after the Treaty of Paris of 1763 and from all parts of the world, Acadians started the return journey. Those who reestablished themselves in Nova Scotia (Acadia no longer existed as a geographic location since 1713) and southern New Brunswick were once again removed from their new lands as Loyalists flowed in by the thousands after their defeat in the American Revolution. The French Acadians settled amidst the English-speaking British authorities in Canada, in New England and in Louisiana. Over the course of the next two hundred years Acadians in Canada will struggle for recognition of their linguistic and cultural rights. When Acadia's first publication house Les Éditions d'Acadie published poet Raymond Guy Leblanc's Cri de terre in 1972, an explosion of creativity in arts, cinematography and literature followed. The prolific Acadian author Antonine Maillet portrays heroines who transcend their inferior status, denounce oppression and subjugation and demand to be treated as equals. Like most of her works, the novel Le chemin Saint-Jacques explores a rich tradition of oral culture. Published in 1998, it is the second of three novels which feature the fiesty, inquisitive and imaginative Radimadegonde Maillet. Radegonde's mission between 1929 and 1980 is to bring pride to Acadians by immortalizing their oral traditions and colorful people in books. Gérald Leblanc's novel Moncton Mantra is from a different time in Acadia and its scope is subsequently not the same. In this first novel, Leblanc's hero, Alain Gautreau, leads the readers through an identity crisis in his early twenties, when he was a student at the Universitké de Moncton. Published in 1997, the novel covers the 1970's decade. Alain's quest takes him to the United States and Montreal, through experimentation with drugs, alcohol, homosexuality and alternative realities. He firmly rejects traditional Acadian culture, authority, religion and education as he struggles to understand who he is, how he defines himself as Acadian and how to emerge as a writer. A militant Acadian, Alain participates in the creation of the new Acadia. Radegonde Maillet and Alain Gautreau's struggles to find themselves as persons, Acadians and writers and their wish to portray the Acadian nation and the French language as distinct, specific and equal to their English counterparts are complicated by their minority status in New Brunswick. In comparing and analyzing Le chemin Saint Jacaues and Moncton Mantra, these elements of identity will be explored in chronological order, through childhood, adolescence and adult life: individual goals, Acadian nationality, and writing.

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