Discussion Summary from our meeting on June 6, 2014
Able to be there were….. Patty, Tammy, Diane, Sue, and Jane
Because the book was based on historical accounts of the Acadiens our discussion skipped around a bit as we referred to the many characters introduced, the chronicle of the story, and combination of fiction and history described.
1. Do you think the author portrays the three major groups in the novel, fairly/objectively?
Generally we agreed that the British, the French and the Acadiens were represented objectively. It remained a challenge throughout the book to keep the many characters assigned to their respective group. Patty made a chart listing who was British, French etc. Diane continued to refer to the map of the area included in the book to follow the groups’ movements. She mentioned the brutality of the French. Jane reminded us of the brutality of the British. There was clearly a war going on, but a war quite different from others reported in books.
2. Are you disappointed or offended by the way in which any of the three groups are portrayed?
While shocked at some of the utter disregard for human lives, we were not really offended by author’s portrayal. Jane reminded us of how many political coverups there have been during past wars and the likelihood that they persist today. Patty mentioned being discouraged at how corrupt the priest was throughout the entire drama. Sue filled us in on more details of the continuing British-French exchange of rule. Jane and Diane remarked about Danes and how nasty he was to the Indians. Jane pointed out that Danks seemed to know this style of brutal fighting, including a complete void of rules in warfare. He performed the dirty work of the British.
3. What were you most surprised to learn in this story about the Acadiens?
Tammy commented on the scope of such an untold history. It made us wonder how many other stories like this we have never heard about and how many others may be happening in the world today. Sue reported that children in Canada were not taught about the Acadiens in school history lessons. She added that when the Acadiens were moved to the fort, they were really living in tents as prisoners.
4. Do you believe that stories of persecuted groups will continue to be published? What do these stories based on facts tell us about human nature?
We did agree that stories will continue to be published. Perhaps with technology, they can be told before groups are completely forced to leave their homes, and lives, so that others could try to step in and help. That’s Patty idealism talking!!! This story certainly illustrates that our human nature includes positive and negative will toward others. Consistent is the labeling of the persecuted group as somehow having less value than those wanting to impose their will. Tammy referred to “keeping the books” and the fact that the Acadiens couldn’t support themselves or pay taxes. Sue said they didn’t use money in their culture; no purpose to it.
5. The relationship between Mati and Aquila is so strong, secure, and interdependent. Do you think the author reports about this family accurately or in a more romanticized account?
All of us felt their relationship was portrayed as sappy. Sue reminded us that the author is a historian and that may be why his family characterizations were less than realistic or accurate. Diane mentioned how strongly Aquila’s boys took their responsibility to protect her. Aquila’s character did demonstrate strong survival instincts. She wanted someone to live in order to tell their story.
6. Father LeLoutre, the Miqmaqs and Cope act as a mixture of diverse groups. What set of beliefs or life circumstances encourage them to cooperate as one against the British?
All three acted independently. They formed a coalition in order to survive. Jane reminded us that our forefathers were so independent. That can be positive but can make cooperating more of a challenge when groups need to combine resources to achieve a common goal.
*Special thanks to Sue for filling in a lot of historical details about the Acadiens that helped clarify and enrich the story presented in the book this month!