Journal Article

The Narratee as Confessor in Margaret Laurence's <i>The Fire‐Dwellers</i>

Brenda Beckman‐Long

in Literature and Theology

Volume 17, issue 2, pages 113-126
Published in print June 2003 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online June 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI:
The Narratee as Confessor in Margaret Laurence's The Fire‐Dwellers

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Margaret Laurence's Manawaka novels represent the consciousness of an anguished confessor who perceives herself to be alone in the world. In a sustained, retrospective account of a critical period in the protagonist's life, Laurence draws upon a Western literary tradition of confession that extends to Saint Augustine of Hippo. In The Fire‐Dwellers, Stacey MacAindra is a woman in Vancouver of the 1960s, a markedly different socio‐historical context. Despite the lack of a strictly theological framework for Stacey's self‐examination, the narrative dramatises a spiritual exercise of laying open the memory in order to awaken self‐perception. The novel is structured by a series of narratees, including Stacey herself, several character‐narratees, and the superaddressee God, who serve as confessors to move the protagonist from isolation to engagement and self‐perception in a gendered confession. An analysis of the narratees reveals Laurence's use of the confessional genre in a polyphonic novel to explore female subjectivity and to construct a narrative of female self‐transformation.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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