What Is Margaret Laurence's "The Diviners" About?

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Christopher Adam Profile
Canadian author Margaret Laurence's book "The Diviners" explores the coming of age of Morag Gunn, a girl who grows up in Manawaka, a small prairie town, with her poverty-stricken relatives, and then later has a troubled relationship with her own daughter, Pique. The book also explores issues of race, class and sexuality, especially in terms of her romantic relationship with a M├ętis man called Jules Tonnerre. The book also explores the reciprocal relationship between the past and the present and this relationship is explored through the imagery of a river than flows both ways. Additionally, every character in the book appears to be searching for something, hence the title of "diviners." While some search for water, Christie, Morag's guardian, is a garbage man, and hence he sifts through piles and piles of rubbish looking for what people threw away. In the novel, Christie's speaks about how much one can tell about someone from what they throw away. At one point he went on a rant and said "by their garbage shall ye know the...by their garbage shall ye christly well know them." This became one of the most powerful passages in the book.

"The Diviners" was also turned into a film and was aired on CBC TV in 1993.

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