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Lesson Twelve The Loons

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1 Lesson Twelve The Loons
by Margaret Laurence

2 Ⅰ. Background Information
1. Introduction of the author Margaret Laurence is one of the major contemporary Canadian writers. She was born in Neepawa, Manitoba, a province in SC Canada, and was educated at the university of Manitoba. Margaret Laurence’s imaginative dealing with Africa life established her reputation as a writer before she began to publish fiction with a Canadian background. Her first novel about Canada, the Stone Angel (1964) is a remarkable book, demonstrating superbly her ability to create characters. 2. Introduction of the novel The Loons (1970) is included in the Norton Anthology of the Short Fiction, 2nd Edition, This touching story tells of the plight of Piquette Tonnerre, a girl from a native Indian Family. Her people were marginalized by the white-dominating society. They were unable to exist independently in a respectable and dignified way. They found it impossible to fit into the main currents of culture and difficult to be assimilated comfortably.

3 4) C. P. R. : Canadian Pacific Railroad
At school, Piquette felt out of place and ill at ease with the white children. When she had grown up she did not have any chance to improve her life. In fact her situation became more and more messed up. In the end she was killed in a fire. Her death is like the disappearance of the loons on Diamond lake. Just as the narrator’s father predicted, the loons would go away when more cottages were built at the lake with more people moving in. the loons disappeared as nature was ruined by civilization. In a similar way, Piquette and her people failed to find their position in modern society. 3. Notes 1) Rid: Louis Rid ( ) led two rebellions of Indians and Metis (people of mixed French and Indian blood) in and The latter rebellion was crushed in the battle of Batoehe, Manitoba, and Riel was executed. 2) patois: dialect 4) broken English: English that is imperfectly spoken with mistakes in grammar and syntax 3) neither flesh, fowl, nor good salt herring; also 'neither fish, flesh, nor fowl' meaning 'not anything definite or recognizable' 4) C. P. R. : Canadian Pacific Railroad 5) Mountie: a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police 6) Nash: a former make of automobiles

4 Ⅱ. Questions after the detailed study of the text
1.   What would happen sometimes to old Jules or his son Lazarus on Saturday nights? 2.   Why did the doctor propose taking Piquette to Diamond Lake for the summer? 3.   What was the cottage on the lake called? What was the scenery there like? 4.   Why did the narrator ask Piquette respectfully. “I bet you know a lot about the woods and all that. Eh.”?

5 Ⅲ. Analysis and Appreciation of the text
1. The outline of the text 2. Type of literature – novel

6 Ⅳ. Effective Writing Skills
1.  making effective use of specific adjective 2.  using many elliptical and short sentences to achieve certain effect

7 Ⅴ.Special difficulties in the text
1.  paraphrasing some sentences 2.  dangling modifiers 3.  illogical and faulty parallelism 4.  translating some sentences

8 VI . Rhetorical Devices 1.  simile 2.  antithesis 3.  assonance

9 VII . Detailed study of the text
1. the scrub oak: Oak is a large tree, Scrub oak is short, stunted oak tree. 2. chokecherry: North American wild cherry tree 3. thicket: a thick growth of shrubs, underbrush or small trees 4. clearing: an area of land cleared of trees 5. shack: a small house or cabin that is crudely built and furnished, shanty 6. chinked with mud: closed the narrow openings with mud 7. Metis: people of mixed French and India blood 8. entered their long silence: put down, repressed

10 9. as the Tonnerres had increased… and rusty tin cans:
1). The Yonnerres had increased: the Tonnerre family had become larger 2). Settlement: a small or isolated community, cillage 3) added to: expanded 4). A chaos of lean-tos: a disorderly place crowded with sheds having a one-slope roof. Level-to: shed with a one-slope roof, the upper end of the rafters resting against an external support, such as trees or the wall of a building 10. half-breed: a person whose parents are of different ethnic types, esp. an offspring of a North American India and a person of European ancestry. 11. patois: a form of language, differing from the accepted standard, as a provincial or local dialect 12. Cree: a member of a North American India people, living mainly in the Canadian Prairie Provinces 13. obscenities: offensive, repulsive remarks or ideas 14. they did not belong among the Cree…: they did not have a proper and suitable place among the cree…

11 15. odd jobs: jobs that are not regular but occasional, incidental
16. section hands (also section gang) a crew of persons who do the maintenance work on a railroad section 17. on relief: receiving government aid because of poverty, unemployment, etc, relief: aid in the form of goods or money given, as by a government agency, to persons unable to support themselves 18. one of the Tonnerre youngster, with a face…: One of the Tonnerre youngsters, who looked deadly serious, never laughed. 19. for sale: to be sold, offered for purchase. 20. bruised wild strawberries: wild strawberries with injured surface. Bruise: to injure the surface or the outside of so that there is spoilage, abrasion, denting, etc. e.g. bruised peaches, a bruised auto fender. 21. lure: suggest an irresistible force, as desire, greed, curiosity, etc, in attracting someone, esp. to something harmful or evil

12 22. rather: more likely / exactly / truly
23.  swam like a dog: swam heartily with all my might 24. thrash: move wildly / violently about; fish ~ in the net 25. output: I was swimming so energetically and wildly that I didn’t feel cold at all 26. squash flat: crush or force into a flat shape, press into a flat mass 27. sullen: silently showing dislike or hostility or lack of cheerfulness and interest 28.  lore: all knowledge or learning having to do with a particular subject, esp. of a traditional nature 29. shrug: a gesture to show indifference to things around or lack of interest 30. so what: even if so, what then; then why is that important; even if you are interested in this place, why should I care about it

13 31. distant voice: she said this in a detached manner, there’s a lack of participation and involvement in her tone; she is absent-minded while talking with me 32. point: cape; a piece of land with a sharp end stretching out into the water 33. hang around: stay near a place or person with no clear purpose or activity 34. dogged: obstinate, unyielding, not giving up easily 35. goddamn: even a small, unimportant amount 36. as an Indian…dead loss: it is useless to go to Piqutte for information of Indians, though she is an Indian 37. scramble: crawl hurriedly 38. overhung: stand out over 39. pier: bridge-like framework built out into the sea where boats can stop 40. crash: move noisily 41. bracken: growth of large, coarse, weedy ferns

14 42.  cold flickering: the sight of the flickering starlight makes you feel cold; synesthesia (a sensation produced in one mood when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when hearing of a certain sound induces a vision of a certain color) 43. flicker: shine with unsteady wavering light 44. phantom birds: ghostlike birds that seem to appear to the sight but have no physical existence 45. still: flat, with no motion or sound 46. ululating: loud sound of wailing and lamenting 47. plaintive: sad, melancholy 48. chilling mockery: a cold, discouraging sense of scorn for or laughing at sth. 49. voice of angels (the sound of loons) can only be found in the fairyland, paradise, heaven; the birds must have sounded like that before their habitat is disturbed by human beings, but now their peaceful life is disturbed or spoiled by the presence of mankind; a situation similar to that of Indians, both are turned into a minority group, deprived of the original living place and driven somewhere else, association between Piquette and loons

15 50. it only strikes you…loons: it is the sound of loons alone that impresses you that way; you will think of this only when hearing the sound of loons 51. suspect: think it probable or likely; anticipate 52. I am saying sth. against my own will. I am afraid that her presence might spoil my experience. I would rather she was absent. 53. a bunch of; a number of 54. squawk: make a loud rough-sounding, harsh cry

16 VIII. Assignment Write a short composition on either of the two topics: 1). My childhood 2). A Summer holiday


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