ENG215 – 18 June 2012
TAs are having office hours on Friday
Both stories are narrated by young boys, so the ideas are idealized/romanticized.
Antanas Sileika: “The Man Who Read Voltaire”
It’s about elsewhere and nowhere and as a complication of the experience of immigration.
The authors complicate the urban setting with oppositions.
Elsewhere and nowhere – not exactly opposition, but the story structures them as so.
Conclusion examines the idea that Canadians long for the apparently greater sophistication that
American life possesses. The story ends with Dave trying to cross the border into Detroit to live with his
Canada as safe and boring, USA as exciting.
Opening paragraph – we are prepared for the conclusion (387)
Alludes to the conclusion as well.
The family is an important theme in these stories – dominant and authoritative stance on the father.
“Marooned” – abandoned, alone and in an inaccessible place.
For the narrator, this is Weston.
Narrator sees Detroit as a freeing of his entrapment.
Economics of the family are important to note.
Wearing old clothes, clothes bought that are too large, dispute over money.
These show that there are economic difficulties and a tendency to fight that image.
The mother wants to dress up the children with jackets and ties.
Things don’t fit well – clothing as a symbol for how Dave feels about his life in Weston.
West of Toronto, but nothing like Toronto.
No neighbours, no community.
388: Real awareness of separation and division. “Italians, Ukrainians and Poles” come to Dave’s
house and not the rich one. Division.
390: significance of the haze and dust?
Hate Weston, can’t get out of it, can’t escape it.
Sign of the construction – a lack of the being settled in. Influences Dave’s sense that he is living
389: In the narrator’s mind, Detroit is a wonderful place.
“America is where real life happens.”
You can see Superman flying over a cape in the city.
Superman was actually conceived by a Canadian and an American, so Dave is misplacing
everything exciting with the Americans.
In 1997, Detroit had a bad economy. In the story, in 1950, there was a boom in Mo-town and the music industry.
In 1960, there were race riots. Now, there has been major economic fallout.
Saleika chooses Detroit on purpose, knowing what it has become. He plays on the irony of this.
389: the two sons and the mother playing a game, looking at American cities on a map. New York,
Texas longhorns, Florida oranges. Looking at stereotypes, they haven’t confronted real-life
Father doesn’t participate. “You could swim over Japan and see there DP (Displaced Persons)
Camp.” People displaced because of war/civil war. Not luxurious places at all.
Refers to the atomic bomb sent by the US, and to displaced characters.
He’s speaking to a negative America, a more problematic American identity. Isolates the
American decision to use an atomic bomb in WW2 as an instance of that.
393: talking about the men who come to visit. Talking about history. Shows the father’s learnedness.
The aunt and uncle offer something different – they seem exotic and alluring.
392: “angels” “American cigarettes left an exotic aroma”
393: “it was powerful but elusive” – they have boring and uncomplicated lives in Canada.
The father has been characterized as stern and dominant, and the uncle challenges him on
396. Shocks Dave.
They are thrilled that someone has challenged the father that Dave + Gerry cannot.
This challenge is explicit, but he also does so subtly the next morning. Uncle tells the kids to
Voltaire – enlightenment, against intolerance and bigotry. Did not support institutional
religion. Promoted humanism.
Uncle is trying to show them a new way of thought.
400: Dave wets his pants in the trunk. Shows his unpreparedness.
401: The father has a clear but negative attitude about the US. Tells Dave about war and death.
For Dave and Gerry and the mother, the US is idealized. Weston and Canada is nowhere, has no
culture, and has no offering to them.
Father is trying to show him that America is not just Superman and chocolate bars.