Mavis Gallant Story, "Bernadette" Essay

929 words - 4 pages

Fear, it has a way of controlling everything that it comes in contactwith. As young children we are introduced to this intimidating desirewith intrigue and suspicion. As we age, the thoughts of fears becomemore like realities, ideas of loneliness and death enter the picture ascomprehensible thoughts and views of the future. These issues makeup the foundation of the Mavis Gallant story 'Bernadette'. In this storywe are presented with the image of a young French Canadian girl, whofinds herself pregnant and without a husband. The context of the storyexplores the relationships between the members of the household in afear associated manner. The relationship between the Knights andBernadette is the base of the story. These three people relate to eachother in an intimidating fashion and this is what makes Bernadette'spredicament so difficult to overcome. As well, the family ties betweenNora and Robbie are explored. Their family relationship is one based ondependence, and without this one factor the connection between the tworesults in fearfulness of being alone. Fear has a way of attacking ourjudgment and this is what makes associations between people anapprehensive and hard act.The story is set in Quebec during the 1940-1950, when what youwere was the definition of who you were. As the story opens we arepresented with the main character Bernadette, who is concluding thatshe is one hundred and twenty-six days pregnant. At this time in historyit was quit common for young rural girls to bare children at a youngage. However, Bernadette is a single French Canadian girl who isworking and living in a urban community, where things like that do nottake place. We are here introduced to the first fear presented in thestory: --How will Bernadette tell the Knights that she is pregnant? --The answer to the question is what haunts her, and the reaction of theKnights is the anxiety that builds up inside of her. These intimidatingfears places Bernadette in a compromising situation, she is in a positionof abandonment by her family and the shame she thinks she hasbrought on to the Knights. These fears have forced her to react inan unusual fashion. Bernadette is so fearful of what they might thinkthat she tries to hide herself in her work so that she is not placed in theposition where she will have to interact with the Knights.The fear of failure and disappointment took control over her mind.When around the Knights she worked as a robot in order not to arouseideas of her current condition. Her nervous fears brought her to thepoint of giving in to their expectations and allowing herself to lie to themabout the books she read and the men she saw. Her images of her deadsiblings as angels would comfort her fears at time, but would also bringup new ones....

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