First Name, LastName
Name of Unit
TheEffect of Youth
Margaret Laurence’s Where the World Began describes thewonderful memories of a town in the Canadian prairies. In particular,the author discusses her emotional attachment to her homeland (Cinda230). In this regard, she outlines captivating features of thelandscape and the oddities that set the town apart. She alsohighlights the playful activities she frequently engaged in withother children from the neighborhood. Margaret argues that theexperiences of youth have an indelible effect on a person`sperspective.
The author ridicules the impact of stereotypes with regards toshaping a person’s viewpoint. She states that the lowly prairietown had been severally described as “dull, bleak, flat, anduninteresting” (Laurence). Other people had also claimed that therailway trip across the country was “spectacular, except for theprairies” (Laurence). Nevertheless, she insists that an individualhad to live in a particular environment to understand and appreciateits beauty. Notably, a person’s opinions and views were alwaysdependent on their first place of settlement. Although the town couldbe called “bizarre, agonizingly repressive or cruel at times,” itcould never be labeled as “dull” (Laurence). Consequently, theauthor uses the exciting skating trips during winter school days tovalidate her claims. The beautiful, daytime vegetation wouldcomplement the nightly wildlife comprising of the coyotes.Furthermore, she uses her recollection of summertime to explain herviews on drought and depression. Farmers and other townsfolk would besaddened by the intense heat since it destroyed their source oflivelihood. In fact, many people would knock on doors requesting “fora drink of water and a sandwich” (Laurence). Such occurrences ledher to view economic challenges and drought conditions as “evildeities” (Laurence). Therefore, a person’s firsthand experienceswere more forceful in developing their perspective as compared toexternal opinions.
Besides, childhood experiences have the potential to override naturalinstincts. The author depicts the town as a “strange place” fullof “incredible happenings, splendours, and revelations” (Riegel85). For example, the aftermath of a blizzard would cause the schoolto be "closed for the day" (Laurence). However, the town`schildren would instead travel into the desserts to pursue "adifferent kind of knowing" (Laurence). Additionally, the authorstates that her "vigil would be rewarded" when someone`shouse burnt down during the night (Laurence). Although sympathy wouldbe the usual reaction to the sight of a burning house, Margaret wasthrilled to witness the unfortunate event. Hence, she cultivated “analmost perfect callousness” that made her insensitive to the plightof others. The author also highlights several oddities thatcharacterized the town. For example, there was an elderly lady thatserved soda biscuits instead of offering egg sandwiches. Anotherwoman preferred to apply orange dye on her hair. The author’sstepmother wore a strange silver neckpiece while her Irishgrandfather had unique pronunciations. The town also had a derangedman called Andy Gump who was feared and disrespected in equalmeasure. The author uses her memories from grade school to show herleaning towards obnoxious behavior. In particular, some older girlswere undeservedly labeled as whores despite the lack of corroboratingevidence. Their speech and physique were presumed as befitting forprostitution. Moreover, Margaret pinpoints that the dead still livedin the town. In this respect, grandparents “gloomed, bearded, orbonneted from the sepia photographs in old albums” (Laurence). Theuncles would be forever viewed as “eighteen or nineteen” eventhough their names had been “carved on the granite family stones inthe cemetery” (Laurence). Notably, the author had lost both parentsby the time she turned ten. Such heartbreaking experiences hadaffected Margaret’s sense of compassion and empathy. Therefore,childhood events can cause an individual to feel and act in a mannerthat belies rational thought.
Furthermore, trying to establish new habits that were different froma person’s upbringing was always futile. At 18, the author was sofrustrated with the town’s culture that she desired to moveelsewhere. Nonetheless, she later discovered that the land and townwould remain entrenched into her skull. In fact, her writing careerwas inspired by the experiences she had in the prairie town.Inevitably, the excruciating pain of losing her parents could notdesert her. The exuberant memories of winter and summer lingered longafter her departure. Her distance from the town did not diminish hersentimental attachment. Margaret acknowledged that the life sincerelocation was defined by attempts to understand her youth. Theauthor extols the implications of living in her neighborhood duringher formative years. She regrets that the country previously lived“under the huge shadows” of “Uncle Sam and Britannia”(Laurence). Notwithstanding, citizens had learned to recognize theirpotential and treasure their heritage. Granted, some issues incurredthe author’s rage. For example, lakes and rivers had been pollutedwith industrialized wastes. The country’s natural resources andindustries had also been placed under American control. The authorwas disgusted to contemplate how Canadians had sold their birthrightin exchange “for a mess of plastic Congress” (Laurence). Herexperiences in the prairie town had bolstered her appreciation forher country and its natural resources. Although she had lived inEngland and Africa, none of these places had as much influence overher as compared to her homeland. Spending four months in southernOntario could not be surpassed by living for many years in foreigncountries. Margaret’s childhood had also caused her to develop ahealthy “fear and mistrust of cities” (Laurence). She rememberedthe time when she gave a public talk at her old college in Winnipeg. An old man approached her and claimed to have worked for her“great-grandfather, Robert Wemyss” (Laurence). Although herfamily had originally come from Ireland and Scotland, she wasconvinced that her "true roots" lay in Canada (Laurence).Granted, Margaret adopted a neutral stance on the country`s social,political, and literary issues. Notwithstanding, the author humblyappreciates the town`s role as the place where she "learned thesight of her particular eyes" (Laurence). Therefore, anyattempts to act contrary to her upbringing would be fruitless.
Indeed, the experiences of youth have lasting effects on anindividual`s perspective. Stereotypes and other external views cannotbe used to draw conclusions about a particular place. A person had tomake judgments based on firsthand experiences. The prairie town hadbeen seen as dull and uninteresting. However, the author mentionedseveral childhood experiences to disprove the assertion that herneighborhood lacked vitality. She also showed how her views ondepression and drought developed through local events. Additionally,traumatic childhood experiences can distort the natural feelings ofempathy and compassion. The death of her parents coupled with thetown`s oddities had made the author calloused. Also, an individualcould not possibly overcome the patterns of behavior entrenchedduring their youth. Despite living in splendid foreign countries, heryouth had an enduring impact on her writing.
Laurence, Margaret. "Where the world began." The NortonReader: An anthology of expository prose (1992). Web. 8 Aug.2016.
Cinda, Gault. National and female identity in Canadian literature,1965-1980 the fiction of Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, andMarian Engel. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2012. Print.
Riegel, Christian. "Literary Development in the 19405." TheLiterary History of Saskatchewan: Volume 1 1 (2013): 85. Print.