The Changing Isolation of the Outsider: A Time-based Analysis of Four Canadian Immigrant Writers

Title: The Changing Isolation of the Outsider: A Time-based Analysis of Four Canadian Immigrant Writers
Authors: Osborne, Marilyn Huebener
Date: 2013
Abstract: This thesis addresses four Canadian immigrant English-language prose writers in order to identify commonalities and differences in their literary representations of the immigrant experience over time. While origin and ethnicity factored in the selection of writers so as to ensure diversity, the primary selection criterion was to obtain a significant historical range, from the 1830s to the present. The writers selected are: Susanna Moodie, an immigrant from England in the mid-19th century; John Marlyn, an immigrant from Hungary in the early-20th century; Michael Ondaatje, an immigrant from Sri Lanka via England in the mid-20th century; and Rawi Hage, an immigrant from Lebanon via the US in the late-20th century. I conclude that there are significant similarities among the works of all four writers, generally attributable to their shared experience of being immigrants, and equally significant areas of divergence, generally attributable to the development of Canada, with Moodie and Marlyn on one side of an important watershed in the mid-1950s, and Ondaatje and Hage on the other. All four write extensively of the experience of the immigrant with a fundamental similarity in their depiction of isolation, non-belonging and dislocation. Over time, the representations of isolation have become more complex, mirroring the increasing diversity and complexity of Canadian society. The mid-1950s shift in Canadian immigration policy from preferred British, US, and Northern European immigration to multinational immigration has resulted in increased diversity of both the Canadian immigrant population and Canadian literature. While the environment of the immigrant to Canada changes, one constant has been and is likely to continue to be a sense of dislocation, non-belonging and isolation, of being an uninvited outsider, or survenant. Canadian literature has reflected this reality consistently for almost 200 years and will no doubt continue to do so.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -