Analysis of Pauline Puyat’s Tracks
One of the most striking characteristics of Pauline Puyat is her devout Catholicism and her desire to be disconnected from the Ojibwa people. Throughout Tracks, she openly chooses Catholicism over her native religion and abandons her native ways almost completely. When Pauline tries to help Fleur prevent a miscarriage, she is literally held back by her conscious separation from the Ojibwa culture.
There are many things that Pauline fails to do to effectively prevent Fleur from miscarrying. The most obvious is her failure to efficiently put together the herbal steep made of Alder: “And I could not remember the plant’s configuration, even though its use was common enough for bleeding problems” (156). Although Pauline could be nervously forgetting the properties of Alder, this forgetfulness of a basic remedy stresses her abandonment of Ojibwa society and its practices. The array of stored plants makes Pauline even more nervous: “Plant after Plant! Some were shaped like a man’s forked legs and some were rolled in balls...I put forth my hand, thinking, what can I do? Lord, tell me! I swept through the dry things and don’t know what I seized” (156). Pauline’s personification of the plants only continues this idea of confusion and abandonment. Her prayer to the Catholic God is almost ironic; Pauline is begging her God to help her remember the practices that she thinks sacrilegious.
Pauline’s Catholicism and her duties as an “Angel of Death” continue to control her for the rest of the passage. Before giving Fleur the Alder (or whatever herb she actually grabbed) steep, Pauline is captivated by her face: “Fleur’s eyes were closed. Her face was drained of color. I k...