Racism in the Loon

948 words 4 pages
“The Loons”: Social Racism Kills a Metis Girl

Margaret Laurence’s short story “The Loons” from A Bird in the House has proven highly controversial as an example of racist literature. The Loons, is a representation of racial separation in mid-western Canada in the early 1900's. Here, Margaret Laurence uses setting and characterization to show how severe the prejudice of white people can be towards half breeds, after the period of new colonization. Piquette Tonnere, protagonist, who intends to fight those prejudices eventually, dies, leaving readers surprised to observe the cruelty of the society.

The tale “The Loons” illustrates how racism exists in the guise of good intentions, intolerance and stereotyping. When Vanessa's
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But Piquette, is destined to be born and die in Munawaka, so when her handsome white husband betrays her, she comes back and dies along with her children in a fire incidence. Therefore, the fire that kills them becomes symbolically inevitable as it represents all the forces that victimize Piquette.

Another symbolism used to depict Piquette’s suffering is the loons, phantom birds. Laurence parallels the loons and Piquette, in their inability to change themselves and their environment. The loons were unable to adapt to the human invasion. Piquette was unable to break away from the cultural label that was imposed upon her. She was an outcaste, and then tried to fit in, but nonetheless she was unable to escape society's stereotypes. As stated at the end of the story, "Perhaps they had gone away to some far off place of belonging. Perhaps they had been unable to find such a place, and had simply died out, having ceased to care any longer whether they lived or not" (Laurence 424).

Thus with the tragic death of Piquette, once again, Laurence accomplishes her intent to allow the readers to understand how cruel the society of the time was towards piquette and her kind. And mature readers realize that Vanessa and the white culture she represents will continue to destroy Meti’s culture until all that remains is a distant memory, like the unforgettable cry of the