An Analysis of Susanne Bellefeuille’s Path of Lucas

Author’s Background: Susanne Bellefeuille is a Canadian novelist. She is a graduate of Social Work from St. Lawrence College in Cornwall. Path of Lucas is her first novel and tells the story of her father, her mother, herself and other family members which resonate with the experiences of families all over the world caught in the web of existential struggles like depression, teenage pregnancy, career issues and mental illness. Susanne Bellefeuille is interested in assisting people with intellectual disabilities. Her story is source of inspiration to everyone struggling with depression and other mental ailments.

Background to Path of Lucas: First published in 2017, Path of Lucas is an autobiographical novel. It is a fictionalisation of the story of Susanne Bellefeuille’s family, especially the sacrifices that her father made during her mother’s struggle with psychotic depression. In the novel, Lucas represents Susanne’s father, Isabelle represents Susanne’s mother. The fact that in the novel, Isabelle and her daughter Lucy get pregnant as teenagers tells the story of Susanne herself who got pregnant at the age of 17 and had to drop out of school. Thus, Susanne’s determination to go back to school was motivated by the need to be a good example to her children and grandchildren.

Path of Lucas is rooted in the concepts of psychological and environmental determinism, which are major preoccupations of modern world novels. The individual must come to terms with the fact that the quality of their minds, as well as the environments, determines the quality of their lives. However, while there are certain events that the individual cannot control, efforts must be made not to stress the mind and the environment because the mind can only endure to a certain point, same as the environment, before crashing. Thus, Path of Lucas draws attention to the importance of mental health in the modern world.

Path of Lucas is a tragedy not only in the artistic sense, but also in the existential sense, as the novel documents how man’s journey through life is replete with painful experiences so that happiness becomes mere ‘occasional episodes in a general drama of pain’.

Path of Lucas is a trauma novel. It investigates trans-generational haunting and ghosting especially in the character of France and Isabelle, her sister, who were physically and emotionally abused by their parents. The effects of these abuses would follow them through life and through generations, influencing their choices and actions.

The colonial history of Canada and its aftermath are alluded to in the novel through character of Lucas who speaks English and Isabelle who speaks French. Their marriage is not only a marriage between two individuals and families, but it is also the union of two cultures, both striving to work and live together despite linguistic and other differences.

Finally, Path of Lucas captures the phenomenon of the baby boomers generation of the 1940s and 1950s, exemplified in so many children being born in the family of Mr John Clarkson and that of Lucas and Isabelle. With this comes the family and extended family values in the society of that time. In the novel, these families tend to stay in clusters, thus fostering love, unity and support for one another in times of need.

Plot and Synopsis of Path of Lucas: Path of Lucas has a non-chronological plot structure. The story begins from the present with Lucy’s car accident and then launches back into the past. The story also begins from the end when Lucas visits his daughter, Lucy, at the hospital where he stays to tell his story to the unconscious Lucy hoping that the story could help bring Lucy out of coma. It is through this story that we get to have a picture of Lucas’ life, from his time as a teenager to when he dies in the hospital shortly after Lucy’s recovery from the coma caused by the accident. The novel’s narrative oscillates between the past and the present, drawing largely from the human ability to recall past events through the agency of memory. The novel also has a circular plot, whereby the story begins in the present, launches into the past and returns to the present where it ends with the demise of Lucas and the recovery of Lucy. 

Path of Lucas begins in the present with the car crash involving Lucy Ferguson on her way to Alexandria from Kingston, Ontario, to visit her father, Lucas Clarkson, for the weekend. Lucy is rushed to the hospital but she is unconscious and would remain so for days. Lucy’s father, Lucas Clarkson, learns of the tragedy and rushes to the hospital to be with his daughter. While Lucy lies unconscious, Lucas tells the story of his life, the uplifting love story involving him and his wife, Isabelle, with the hope that the story would help revive Lucy.

The story of Lucas goes back to 1956 when he is a handsome 17 year-old living in the town of Alexandria with his parents, John Clarkson and Elizabeth Clarkson, alongside his siblings, James and Mary and their children. Lucas has a friend by name Steve, an Air force personnel, who will later die in an air accident. Lucas helps his father in the farm rising livestock. He has a car called the Studebaker and while driving it to town to buy farm equipment for his father, he meets two lovely daughters of the Bourgeois family, France and Isabelle, and falls in love with Isabelle, the younger sister. Their romance blossoms, but its progress is impeded by the poverty of Mr Bourgeois’ family and the abuses that Isabelle suffered in the hands of her parents as a child. Eventually, Lucas and Isabelle are able to overcome these challenges, though Isabelle is not ready to get married to Lucas because she has to work for the wealthy Mr Thomas to cater for her family since her father is ill and cannot work. Eventually, Mr Thomas has to sell his land and relocate to the city. It is Lucas’ father, Mr John Clarkson, who buys this piece of land and it falls on Lucas to conclude the deal since his father and brother will not be available on that day. This is how Lucas gets to know that Isabelle is working for Mr Thomas. This meeting reunites them and renews the fire in their relationship.

Isabelle gets pregnant by Lucas shortly after their engagement. It is this pregnancy that expedites their wedding. The marriage produces five children: Richard, Johnny, Steve, Lucy and Thomas. Lucas has a childhood dream of becoming a mechanic, just as his friend Steve has a dream of becoming a pilot. In the novel, Steve realises this dream though he later dies in an air crash. Steve is an inspiration to Lucas who continues to nurture his dream of becoming a mechanic, as he does not really like farming. But in the meantime, he works with his father in the farm. He also works on his mechanic dream by working with Claude Giroux, a Class A mechanic. However, Lucas does not make enough money from the mechanic work since he is not certified. An opportunity soon comes for Lucas to get his license as a mechanic. A man named Jim, a friend of James and a Class A mechanic, offers Lucas an opportunity to go to school in Uxbridge for his mechanic license while working with him in his garage.

Lucas moves to Uxbridge with his wife and children but his dream of becoming a mechanic is thwarted by his father’s request for him to return home and help him out in the farm because his health is deteriorating and James is selling his house and moving to the city so as to give a better education to his intellectually and physically challenged children. Meanwhile, Isabelle has had challenges and complications during child delivery and the doctor has warned that she should not have children anymore. Lucas has no choice than to abandon his dream of becoming mechanic to return to help the father in Alexandria. From this point onwards, it is a series of tragedies for Lucas. His father has to be on oxygen, his best friend Steve dies in an air accident, Richard, Lucas’ first son, suffers from meningitis, France, Isabelle’s sister dies of diabetes and Isabelle is obese and diabetic arising from unconscious self-harm (bad food choices) induced by unresolved childhood trauma.

A friend by name Ron informs Lucas of a job opportunity in a cable company. Lucas eventually gets this job but he has to be posted to a far-away place called Kemptville. It is while Lucas is away from home at Kemptville that Isabelle develops psychotic depression and falls into unconsciousness. She is rushed to the hospital by her mother-in-law, Elizabeth. When Isabelle emerges from her unconscious state, she does not have any recollection of her past life, neither does she recognise her family and friends. When the doctors are about to pronounce her a hopeless case and send her to an institution, Lucas intervenes and suggests to the doctor that taking Isabelle outside the hospital to places in the real world as well as helping her to confront the truth about her life could help bring Isabelle back. This strategy eventually works and Isabelle’s genuine memories are brought back. Isabelle is well enough to return to normal life. But she has aqua phobia and is easily triggered by events and situations.

Lucas’ children are now grown and the vicious family circle is seen to be on the repeat. For instance, Lucy gets pregnant for one Justin at the age of 16, just as Isabelle was pregnant for Lucas outside marriage as a teenager. Richard equally gets his girlfriend Chelsea, a teenager, pregnant. The family woes continue as Richard is soon diagnosed with cancer of the throat and has to undergo an operation. The operation is successful but then John Clarkson, Lucas’ father, passes away after Richard leaves hospital. Shortly after this, Richard is taken ill again and dies from cancer in the nymph nodes. Isabelle goes into depression again while Lucas’ mother, Elizabeth, dies from Alzheimer’s disease at the point where she is even unable to recognise family members. Isabelle dies of heart attack on the 10 of June, 1993.

After Lucas has completed narrating his story, Lucy comes out of coma and is surrounded by her children and other family members. Shortly after, Lucas has a heart attack and dies, leaving Lucy to say his eulogy at the funeral.

Subject Matter: Path of Lucas narrates the story of Lucas Clarkson and the hard choices he has to make in life to keep his family together and to save himself. It is a story of modern heroism marked by self-sacrifices, resilience, selflessness, love and friendship, family values and faith in humanity. The novel portrays the fact that the modern man is constantly battling with many forces, particularly those existential ones that he has little or no control over, including mental forces. The fact that man refuses to give up even in the face of apparent failures is what marks him as a hero, just like Lucas.

Setting: Path of Lucas is set in the Canada of the 20th century. The story spans 1956 and 1993 when Isabelle dies. Specifically, the place setting of the novel include Alexandria, where Lucas stays and where Lucy is travelling to before getting involved in an accident; Kingston, Ontario, where Lucy lives and works, and Cold Lake, Alberta, where Steve dies in an air crash, among others.

Point of View: Path of Lucas is written from the third person narrative point of view through the device of historic present. The omniscient narrator simply takes over the narration from Lucas, telling us Lucas’ story. The author also deploys stream of consciousness in the narration. The story is told in the present tense and uses the recollection strategy to delve into the past. This is because the past becomes the present through memory.

Characterisation: Path of Lucas has a wide array of characters. The important characters in the novel are Lucas, John Clarkson, Elizabeth Clarkson, Isabelle, Frances, Lucy Ferguson and her husband Mark, Steve Lewis, Mr and Mrs Bourgeois, Mr Thomas and Julia. Other characters are Mr and Mrs Arthur and Stella Lewis who are Steve’s parents, Lucas’ brother James, Krissy Cameron, the Mayor’s son who is a bully, Ron, Jim, Maurice Rocket Richard, Duval, Lucas’ grandfather who was an artist; Uncle Tom, Steve’s uncle who died in an air crash in WWII. Then we have Lucas’s children: Richard, Johnny, Steve, Lucy and Thomas. Lucas’ siblings are James and Mary. James marries Debra and they have three children: Paul, Donna, Scott. Mary marries Joe and has five children: Sandra, Brenda, Jeffrey, Darcy and Janet. There was a son of Mr John Clarkson by name William but he died.

Themes: Among the themes that can be discussed in Path of Lucas are Life as a journey, existential tragedies of man, man as a psychological being, family and values, genuine love and romance, family vicious cycles, birth and death as the sad rhythm of human life, mental illness as a menace to human relationship, theme of love and friendship and childhood abuse and trauma.

Language and Style: Path of Lucas is written mostly in American/Canadian English with some French words and expressions to reflect the linguistic realities of Canada. Indices of American/Canadian English in the novel are seen in the spelling of words like ‘labor’ (p.167), ‘program’ (p.156) and ‘behavior’ (305). Most of the French expressions in the novel are spoken by Isabelle in her early courtship with Lucas. Some of these French expressions are ‘Qui’ which means ‘yes’ (p.32), ‘Qui. . . je veux aller avec toi’ which means ‘Yes. . . I will go with you,’ said by Isabelle in response to Lucas’ question if she would go on a date with him.

Other aspects of language and style in Bellefeuille’s Path of Lucas are irony, humour, foreshadowing, flashback, historical allusion, motif, symbolism and Euphemism, among others.

A Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis of Susanne Bellefeuille’s Path of Lucas: The Path He Endured

Chapter 1

The novel opens with Lucy leaving her office, going to Alexandria from Kingston Ontario. She is visiting her father. Alexandria is depicted as a province, a town or countryside. Mark is Lucy’s husband. She calls to inform him of her departure hoping to see him Sunday night. Wendy is Lucy’s Secretary. Lucy greets her for the weekend, hoping to see her Monday morning.

Kingston is a two-hour drive from Alexandria. Lucy stops at a coffee shop for a coffee and to get her Dad donuts. There is thick fog on the road, which makes visibility poor. Lucy is involved in an accident and is left unconscious. The vehicle that causes the accident refuses to stop, as the driver drives away. It is another person that calls 911 after observing the accident scene. Note how quickly the emergency teams respond to the scene. Lucy is taken to the General Hospital.

The hospital calls Mark to confirm Mark to inform him but he does not pick up his phone as he is at work preparing for a case. Mark later returns the call and he is told of the sad news. He decides to go to the hospital right away.

Lucas is Mark’s father-in-law. Lucas does not answer his phone when Mark calls him. Lucas later returns Mark’s call. One should note the dramatic irony in Lucas telling Mark that Lucy should be arriving soon, not knowing that she is in the hospital. Mark informs Lucas of the sad news. Lucas is dismayed. Lucas promises to get to the hospital soon. Lucas leaves immediately for the hospital.

Lucy’s full name is Lucy Ferguson. Her husband is Mark Ferguson. Dr Wright is the neurologist assigned to treat Lucy. He tells Mark: ‘. . . The next twenty-four hours will be critical’ (6). Mark eventually gets to see Lucy at the hospital. Lucas arrives the hospital to see Lucy (7). He meets Mark there too. The nurse informs Mark that he needs to go and see the doctors to see the doctors to sign some papers regarding Lucy. Alone, Lucas begs Lucy to wake up for him, for her children. Lucas decides to tell the story of how he met Lucy’s mother while Lucy lies in coma.

Chapter Two

The story told in Path of Lucas by Lucas, the hero-protagonist, goes back to 1956 when Lucas is only 17. He is washing his first car, ‘a 1949 red two-door Studebaker’ (10). Lucas is preparing to go to the town to pick up farm tools for his father. Lucas is happy to go so as to show off his new car in the town of Alexandria.

Lucas’ father is John. He is described as ‘a farmer with a strong build and deep voice’ (10). He is a rich farmer who owns ‘over four hundred acres of land’ (10). John’s eldest son is James, who is married to Debra and has three children – Paul, Donna and Scott aged 10, 8 and 4 years old, respectively. Thus, Paul, Donna and Scott are John’s grandchildren. It should be noted that Donna and Scott have developmental disabilities. Donna was born twin, but the twin brother, Donald, passed away at three months old.

John’s wife is Elizabeth. They have a daughter, Mary, who is married to Joe. Mary and Joe have 5 children – Sandra, Brenda, Jeffrey, Darcy and Janet, aged 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5, respectively. John had a third child by name William, but he died. Lucas is considered a miracle child; born 13 years after Mary.

John has vast investments. He is industrious and ‘his goal in life is to help his children grow and become as wealthy as he is’ (11). John’s wife is Elizabeth. She is described as ‘a housewife who helps on the farm and loves being a mom’ (11).

Lucas drives off to town smiling and waving after his father, John. John is proud of Lucas, referring to him as ‘an incredible son’ (11). Lucas’ handsomeness is described thus: ‘Lucas’ looks rarely go unnoticed. His smile lights up a room, his hair is as black as ink and he has mother’s deep dark-brown eyes that one get lost in’ (12).

Lucas sees two girls on the road and slows down. They are Mr Bourgeois’ daughters. Mr Bourgeois is from Quebec City. Lucas admires the girls but appears to like the younger one more. Lucas offers the girls a ride. The girls are France Bourgeois and Isabelle Bourgeois. Lucas drives both sisters to the house. Their language is French and is seen in the word ‘merci’ which Isabelle says to Lucas.

It is soon realised that Lucas is taken by Isabelle: ‘. . . their eyes met. Immediately, he knows he wants to get to know her better’ (15). Lucas cannot stop thinking of Isabelle. Mr Brown is a clerk at the store where Lucas buys farm tools for his father. Mr Brown notices Lucas’ absent-mindedness and suspects that he has fallen in love (16). Lucas’ state of being in love is seen in the expression, ‘. . . his stomach was doing flip-flops’ (16).

Lucas buys gas on his way home at 22 cents per gallon. He looks to see Isabelle as he drives past their house but he does not see her. Lucas arrives home at super time and is welcomed by his mother, Elizabeth. Lucas’ Dad notices Lucas’ state of happiness. Lucas tells his parents about meeting the Bourgeois sisters. Both John and Elizabeth agree that Lucas is in love. Elizabeth narrates to Lucas how John met and courted her in similar circumstances: ‘Your father reacted in the same fashion when he bumped into me. So did your brother when he met Debra.’

Chapter Three

It is now three weeks since Lucas met Isabelle but he has not seen her again. Lucas and James discuss Lucas’ feelings for Isabelle, with James telling Lucas to summon up courage to ask her out by going to their house. Note how Lucas uses work as a coping mechanism to forget or endure love and romantic frustration.

Elizabeth informs Lucas that Steve is back in town. Steve is Lucas’ childhood friend. Lucas loves cars while Steve likes sports. Steve, who is from a humble family, is training to be a pilot at Trenton Air Force Base. He has just come back from the Air Force Base. Lucas visits Steve in their house. Mr and Mrs Lewis are Steve’s parents. Steve’s father is Arthur Lewis.

Steve informs Lucas that he will get his pilot’s license the following week. Steve’s father fears for his son’s safety as he is about to become a licensed pilot. This fear is not unfounded, as Uncle Tom, Steve’s uncle, himself a pilot, had died in WWII. There is a historical allusion in the words of Mr Arthur Lewis: ‘Fortunately, the country is not at war. No one has to fight the Nazis, the way Steve’s uncle Tom did in WWII’. It is in this chapter that we begin to see the psychological impulses of the novel. Some memories are too painful so that forgetfulness becomes a necessary strategy so as to avoid pain by remembering. This explains why Steve tries to change the subject of his uncle’s death in the war because he notices that it hurts his parents.

Steve admires Lucas’ car. Lucas says the car was sold to him by one Mr Gordon. Steve asks Lucas for a ride in his car and Lucas obliges. Steve offers to go to Alexandria Hotel, where he drank his first beer many years ago. Lucas remembers how Steve passed out after the drinking and had to be taken home by Lucas in his Dad’s car.

We are told that Lucas wants to become a mechanic but that he has not made up his mind as he needs to help his father in the farm. For now, he fixes farm equipment.

At the hotel, Lucas tells Steve about Isabelle, calling her ‘a beautiful French girl’ (25). Isabelle is 16 years old. Steve assures Lucas that he would see Isabelle again soon. Kris, the Mayor’s son, arrives the table where Steve and Lucas sit. Kris is described as ‘a petty criminal who owns fast cars, wears fashionable clothes and has girls too many to count’ (26). His full name is Krissy Cameron. He calls Steve a loser and mockingly asks what brings him back to town. Kris is shown to be a bully but Steve stands up to him with biting retorts. Lucas’ words help to defuse the situation and Kris returns to his table. But he soon returns to look for more trouble, having been overcome with anger. He asks Lucas why he still associates with Steve whom he refers to as ‘a good-for-nothing dirt bag’ (27). Kris hits out at Steve. Steve hits him back; he falls to the floor and Steve punches him. Lucas separates the fight by pulling Steve off the opponent. The fight and Steve’s victory is significant because it is the first time someone has stood up to Kris (27).

Steve reflects on his friendship with Lucas as they drive home. Steve is likely to be posted far away from Lucas. Steve is passionate about the Air Force and glad to follow in his Uncle Tom’s footsteps. Lucas says he cannot stop his friend from leaving even though he would want him to be around. Then the two friends say goodbye to each other.

Elizabeth informs Lucas the next day that Steve has called to say he is leaving town the next day in the morning. Steve later visits Lucas. He has been posted to Cold Lake in Alberta and leaves the next day by train to Toronto and then flies to Alberta. Steve appreciates the cake served him by Elizabeth Clarkson. He soon leaves to prepare to travel and to spend some time with his family. Their goodbye ceremonies are marked by gifts and hugs and tears (30).

Chapter 4

Lucas receives a telegram from Steve. On his way to Steve’s parents’ house to get more information about Steve being stationed abroad, Lucas meets Isabelle and her sister France. Lucas is excited to meet them and offers them a ride home.

It is noted that Isabelle has a fragmentary knowledge of English, so France accepts to help her and Lucas to communicate. At first, it is difficult for Lucas to speak but he finally asks if Isabelle would like to go on a date with him. Isabelle accepts. The date is to take place at a restaurant called Mama Jean’s Diner at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Lucas drops off the two sisters and proceeds to Steve’s parents’ house.

Steve’s mother is by name Stella, Stella Lewis. Her husband, Steve’s father, is Arthur Lewis. He is affected by his son’s move to Cold Lake. This explains his confusion in storing the grass cutter. This turns out to be an omen or foreshadowing in the novel. Lucas and Stella help Arthur to relax. Stella is good at baking pie. Steve is described as a good son who helps his parents with the bills. Stella gives a slice of pie to Lucas. Lucas mentions the telegram he received from Steve which is what informs his visit.

Arthus explains his fears about Steve going overseas which are anchored on the death of Uncle Tom who fought as Air Force Man in WW II. Arthur recalls to Lucas how Tom died at age 24, showing him the family photo album and talking about the telegram messages which had inspired Steve to follow in Tom’s footsteps.

The idea of forgetting as a coping mechanism is seen in the words of Stella to Lucas: ‘Steve knew that Arthur struggled with the death of his brother. So we seldom talked about the war’ (36).

Arthur explains in pain that Steve is going to Europe ‘for a practice run’, meaning a top-secret mission. It should be noted that the photo album is a veritable source of memories. For instance, there is a picture that reminds Lucas of his childhood with Steve. In the picture, Lucas and Steve are about to jump into a lake. Through this picture, Lucas recalls how brave Steve was as a child compared to Lucas.

Lucas asks Arthur and Stella to reach him whenever they need his help. Then he leaves for home. Lucas thinks of Isabelle as he drives home, wondering how he will be able to communicate in French with her. He decides he could use his mother’s help. Lucas gets home and relates the information he has on Steve to his mother and then requests her help with translation during his date with Isabelle.

Chapter 5

Lucas learns and practises French as he awaits Saturday, the date for his date with Isabelle. Lucas takes great care on his looks and that of his car for the date. He drives to pick up Isabelle in her parents’ house. We are told that ‘Isabelle doesn’t need makeup to look pretty’ (41).

France gifts Isabelle a book that helps her to learn English and practises English with her. Lucas arrives at Isabelle’s. Isabelle is to return home by 9 p.m. to avoid the father’s wrath. Lucas notes how impressive Isabelle’s English is even though she does not conjugate her verbs properly.

Language is used to negotiate love and romance as Isabelle is willing to speak English while Lucas is willing to learn French to demonstrate their eagerness to love.

They arrive at the restaurant and both order a Coke. Mama Jean’s Diner is noted for their hamburgers which Isabelle orders. Isabelle and Lucas’ date progresses smoothly. It is Isabelle’s first time at a restaurant, as she is a poor farmer’s daughter. As the diner ends, Lucas realises that he is falling in love with Isabelle. Isabelle says she has enjoyed the evening. Lucas struggles to ask Isabelle for another date until when she is about to leave the car when he drops her off. Isabelle accepts to go on another date with Lucas.

Chapter 6

We are returned to the present at the General Hospital where Lucy, Lucas’ daughter, is in a critical condition and Lucas is telling his life story hoping for her recovery.

The rememory returns to Lucas’ second date with Isabelle. Their second date is in a theatre. The movie they are to see is Legend of the Lost, a John Wayne movie. Note how Isabelle speaks English at this point; ‘I not know movies much, and I not know who is John Wayne,’ she tells Lucas (50). Lucas and Isabelle arrive the theatre holding hands as they walk. They enjoy the movie together as their romance continues to at the end of the movie at Mama Jean’s ‘for a soda pop’ (53). Lucas finally asks Isabelle to be his girlfriend. Isabelle accepts to be Lucas’ girlfriend. Then they both kiss. Note how the waitress is happy for Lucas and Isabelle as she likes to watch romance grow. Lucas and Isabelle keep kissing, which is a sign of love.

Lucas reports his love progress with Isabelle to his parents. His parents want to meet Isabelle.

Chapter 7

After courting for several months, Lucas introduces Isabelle to his parents. His parents want to meet Isabelle. But Isabelle is hesitant about Lucas meeting her family. Lucas wonders why. Isabelle is only 17 years old at this time. She is in distress when Lucas goes to pick her up one day. She suddenly starts crying in the car.

Loch Garry Park is a favourite place where Lucas and Isabelle usually meet. It is a campground. It is at this place that Lucas tries to find out what the matter is with Isabelle. Pressed by Lucas, Isabelle reveals that France has gone to Quebec with her grandmere (grandmother), having turned 18 and not in love with the countryside. But France being gone is not the main reason for Isabelle’s sad mood. Lucas has to threaten her with separation in order to get her to talk about the problem.

Isabelle talks about the poverty in her family, how her family is different from that of Lucas and how she has to work for one Mr Thomas in order to cater for her brothers and sisters. Lucas says he doesn’t care about Isabelle’s family background as she loves her so well. He insists on seeing her parents. Isabelle resists and holds back, saying that her family is not like that of Lucas. This is one of the points of conflicts in the novel.

The use of stream of consciousness in the novel is seen in the thought of Isabelle: ‘How can I hide my horrendous life from Lucas?’ (63). Isabelle is depicted running from the car into the forest adjoining Loch Garry Park, as if she is trying to run away from her painful past or memories. Lucas has to go searching for her in the woods. He eventually finds her but it is difficult to get Isabelle to open up to talk about her family and her past. Lucas and Isabelle exchange hard and soft words as they reach the limits of their patience. Isabelle demands to be taken home. At this point she is described as ‘. . . sweet but miserable Isabelle’ (65). Lucas drops Isabelle off and thinks that the relationship has come to an end.  

Chapter 8

Isabelle’s separation from Lucas lasts the entire summer. Lucas is very much affected by the rift in the relationship and has withdrawn from society. Mr Thomas, Isabelle’s employer, is selling his land and Lucas’ father, John Clarkson, wants to buy and so decides to go and inspect the land. It is one Ken Johnson who tells John Clarkson about the forty acres that Mr Thomas wants to sell. Mr Thomas is selling the gravel pit because he wants to relocate to the city and live near his daughter. Mr Thomas is described as wealthy. Lucas thinks that the land sale would make a good deal but then remembers that Isabelle had once talked about working for one Mr Thomas who lives not far away from her house.

Lucas, James and John visit Mr Thomas over the land sale. They meet Julie, Mr Thomas’ granddaughter, at the gate and she ushers them into the house. Mr Thomas says he wants to sell the land and the house and move to the city with his daughter. The men soon agree on the price for the land and the deal is completed but awaiting documentation by the lawyer of Mr John Clarkson. The lawyer’s name is Mr Douglas.

James and Lucas go to Mama Jean’s Diner to wait for their father while he talks to his lawyer. They order coffee. The waitress remembers Lucas and asks about Isabelle. But she does not press when she notices the sadness in Lucas’ words. Lucas is unhappy all the time he is at Mama Jean’s Diner with James because of the haunting memories of Isabelle associated with the place. He also avoids any topic that mentions Isabelle.

John Clarkson, Lucas’ father, comes to the restaurant. He announces to Lucas and James that the land deal is complete but that the documents will not be ready until Friday. He will not be around then because he has to join his wife, Elizabeth, to visit Aunt Sarah at the General Hospital, as well as visit Aunt Rita.

Lucas offers to get the documents and take them to Mr Thomas since even James won’t be available, as he needs to go with Debra and Donna to see the doctor. We are also told that Mr Thomas is leaving for the city Friday night.

It should be noted that narrating the story signals the presence and recall of memory and its enactment in the present.

Lucas picks up the land documents at Mr Douglas’ and heads to Mr Thomas’ thinking of Isabelle. This means that he still loves her. Lucas meets Julia at Mr Thomas’. She informs Lucas that the cooking aroma in the house is from her grandmother’s maid who is cooking for them to take to the city. The maid is likely Isabelle and the possibility makes Lucas tense. Even Julia notices Lucas’ agitation and questions him about it. Isabelle comes into the room where Lucas is but does not see Lucas yet and Lucas does not want to startle her.

Finally, Isabelle notices Lucas and is shocked to see him there. Lucas explains that he never knew Mr Thomas until the business came up the previous week. When Lucas asks if he can talk with Isabelle, she replies: ‘I can no talk to you right now. I working’ (76). They decide to meet at 4 p.m. when Isabelle might have been done with her work. Lucas completes his business with Mr Thomas and leaves.

Chapter 9

Lucas goes to pick up Isabelle. He suggests they go to his place as his parents would not be home. Isabelle asks if it is okay to go there when his parents are not around. Lucas convinces her to go with him. He asks her what happens to her job now that Mr Thomas is leaving town. Isabelle replies that she has been paid an advance wage by Mr Thomas to take care of the house for a month. Isabelle speaks kindly of Mr Thomas.

Lucas compliments Isabelle’s culinary skills based on the information he got from Mr Thomas. At Lucas’, Isabelle prefers to sit under the big oak tree outside rather than go inside. Lucas begins by apologising to Isabelle on pressuring her to reveal her past. He only now wants to be with her instead of knowing her past. Isabelle acknowledges her state of denial. She uses denial as a coping mechanism and it’s reflected in her words to Lucas: ‘I think hard about the reason I can’t talk to you about my problems. . . It is because I am in denial’ (81).

Isabelle now wants to talk about her family since she now feels wholly accepted by Lucas. According to her, ‘I want to confront my demons (81). In trauma terms, this signals walking through. She tells Lucas, ‘I no know where to begin. Is much to reveal’ (81). Isabelle reveals that she was emotionally and physically abused by her parents as a child: ‘When I was small child, I was abuse by both my parents. My father emotionally abused me since the age of seven and my mother physically abuse me right up till last spring’ (82).

Isabelle says her father was a drunk but that he is now sick with emphysema (a lung disease) and cannot abuse her again. Because her father is sick, Isabelle has to work to support her siblings. The last time her mother beat her was the last day Lucas took her out. It happened that Isabelle had bought a jacket for herself with the money she got from working for Mr Thomas and her mother got upset and beat her for not handing in all the money she made.

These horrendous stories solidify the love/romance bonds between Isabelle and Lucas, thus enabling both to restart and restate their commitment to love each other. For instance, Isabelle tells Lucas: ‘I love you, Lucas Clarkson, forever!’ This statement would prove true at the end of the novel.

Isabelle tells Lucas to keep her revelation a secret. Isabelle’s father had abused France, the elder sister, but not the younger ones because both France and Isabelle try their best to protect them. Isabelle pleads with Lucas not to hate her family because of what she has said or what they did to her. It is time for Lucas to take Isabelle home before it gets dark.

Chapter 10

It is now over a year as the Lucas-Isabelle relationship blossoms. It is going to be Isabelle’s 18th birthday and Lucas plans to buy her an engagement ring. He takes one morning off to get jewelry at Ford’s Jewelry in Cornwall. The owner of the place is Mr Ford; he helps Lucas to look for the perfect ring. Mr Ford asks Lucas to choose the ring that catches his eyes. Just like Lucas’ mother, Isabelle wears size four ring.

Having chosen a ring, Lucas can now plan his engagement to Isabelle on her birthday which is on a Friday. He plans to take her to Mama Jean’s Diner, then to Loch Garry Park where he will propose to her. Lucas is nervous on Friday thinking of Isabelle and the engagement. John, his father, asks Lucas to take the day off. Lucas goes home, selects his dress and leaves for Isabelle’s place with the ring.

Lucas finds Mr Bourgeois sitting outside his home. He responds to Lucas’ greeting and says that he sits outside to admire nature as he is dying. Lucas and Mr Bourgeois exchange more pleasantries before Mr Bourgeois informs Lucas that Isabelle is in the backyard with the siblings. Lucas tiptoes to Isabelle and covers her eyes from behind while the siblings giggle until Isabelle recognises Lucas through his kiss.  

Isabelle’s little sister is Sylvie whom Lucas plays with alongside other children in the house.  

Lucas decides to wait in the car for Isabelle. Mr Bourgeois is no longer on the front porch. Dr Bourdon is Mr Bourgeois’ doctor who tells him that Mr Bourgeois has a few years to live. Mr Bourgeois, according to Isabelle, is a changed man who now has a more positive outlook on life. He has even gone as far as asking Isabelle’s forgiveness four days before Isabelle’s 18th birthday.

Lucas and Isabelle exchange more love vows and kisses in public with Isabelle being coy or reserved. They meet Pauline, the waitress at the restaurant. Lucas orders Mama Jean’s special, which is ‘homemade vegetable soup and a hot hamburger with coleslaw’ (97). Pauline brings in the cake as everyone in the restaurant sings ‘happy birthday’ for Isabelle. It was all planned out by Lucas. Lucas changes his plan on proposing at Loch Garry Park and does it at the Diner’s. Isabelle accepts Lucas’ marriage proposal.

Chapter 11       

Lucas’ marriage to Isabelle is delayed because Isabelle wants to continue to work to support her siblings. Lucas impresses Isabelle with his culinary skills during one of their meetings. One day, Lucas’ parents go to Toronto to visit Uncle Joe, leaving Lucas alone in the house.

Lucas and Isabelle go for a walk during which they play, run, and engage in romantic acts. They head back home when the sun begins to set. Lucas shows Isabelle the family paintings done by Duval, Lucas’ grandfather, who was a gifted artist. Isabelle admires the paintings. Both soon doze off. Lucas wakes up at 3 a.m. and wakes Isabelle in confusion and alarm, as Isabelle is not supposed to have stayed so late at his place. He offers to take her back to her parents’ house. Isabelle ought to have been home before midnight as it is with the rules in her household. Lucas drops off Isabelle a distance from the house while she walks silently to the house to avoid waking the parent. They are to meet again at 6 p.m. that day.

Lucas is happy all day thinking and fantasising about the time he shared with Isabelle. He even tells James his brother about her and proposes an encounter in the evening. Lucas picks up Isabelle at her parents’ in the evening for their time together where they continue their romance.

Chapter 12 

The narrator brings us back to the present at the General Hospital where Lucy lies in a coma with Lucas by her side. The narrator then returns to the past, restarting the story with Isabelle’s illness.

Isabelle vomits in the morning, making the reader wonder if she is pregnant. We are told that Isabelle now works for Mr and Mrs Smith. Julia offers Isabelle a ride seeing her walking to work and looking pale and weak. Julia had come to town to pick up her grandfather’s cousin to Ottawa on a visit for Uncle Victor and Grandpa’s 90th birthday.  

Julia observes that Isabelle looks pale, which is another sign of pregnancy or sickness. Julia suggests Isabelle goes to the doctor even though Isabelle says she is just tired. Isabelle starts crying, confessing to Julia that she thinks she is pregnant. She had missed her previous month’s period/cycle. Julia offers to take Isabelle to Dr Bates’ in Alexandria since Isabelle is afraid of going to see Dr Bourdon for fear of meeting her sickly father there. Though Isabelle hesitates, Julia insists and drives her to the aunt’s house.

Isabelle is informed by Julia that the doctor will see her soon and that Mrs Smith has asked that Isabelle should take the day off and resume work on Monday. Julia heads to Alexandria with Isabelle. When they arrive the hospital, Isabelle requests Julia to be with her during the interview with the doctor, Dr Andrew Bates.

Isabelle confirms to the doctor that she has all the signs of a pregnancy. Dr Bates says that Isabelle should take a urine text and that the result will be out in a few days. Julia pleads with the doctor to make the next appointment on Tuesday when she would be in town to help convey Isabelle down. The doctor accepts. Isabelle heads back to work. She is afraid to tell Lucas and her parents. Julia advises Isabelle to think of herself, marry Lucas and have their baby.

While Mr and Mrs Smith leave for the weekend, Isabelle resumes her cleaning duties in the house. Lucas senses that something is wrong with Isabelle when they are together, but Isabelle insists that everything is fine. The narrative voice says this of Isabelle: ‘Despite the pain and shame of having an unplanned pregnancy, especially before marriage, Isabelle is proud to carry Lucas’ baby’ (117).

It is Tuesday, the day for the test result. Isabelle works early at the Smiths’. Julia soon arrives back with the Smiths’. Isabelle warmly welcomes the Smiths back to the house. Julia and Isabelle engage in a conversation. Isabelle is yet to inform Lucas of the possibility of being pregnant. Julia promises to stand by Isabelle. The Smiths soon finish their meal and Julia takes Isabelle to see Dr Andrew Bates. The reader should note the suspense of waiting for Dr Bates.

Dr Bates confirms through the test results that Isabelle is pregnant. Isabelle reacts to the news in shock and wail. Dr Bates recommends ‘. . .Ginger ale and dry toast or crackers with tea may help with the nausea’ (120) for Isabelle. He also tells Isabelle, ‘. . . Remember that you are carrying a new life. Take care of yourself’ (120).

Chapter 13

Isabelle is yet to inform Lucas of her pregnancy two weeks after the doctor’s confirmation at the hospital. We are introduced to the character Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard, a hockey star who is attending the social event at Greenfield, where Lucas’ parents help the church to raise money. It is on this day that Isabelle would inform Lucas of the pregnancy. Lucas is excited about the social event; he even mails Steve about the coming of the hockey star, Maurice, to the event.

Lucas goes to pick up Isabelle at the Smith’s and finds them in the garden, including Isabelle. Lucas exchanges pleasantries with the Smiths. He is stunned by Isabelle’s beauty when she emerges from the house after dressing. The dress she wears was gifted her by Julia. Lucas compliments Isabelle on her beautiful look. They leave for the event at Greenfield and meet other family members of Lucas there. They are James and Debra, Paul, Donna and Scott, Mary with her five children and now pregnant with the sixth. Joe is her husband but he has not come. He has to work that night and so cannot attend the event.

Isabelle is nervous as the conversation focusses on Mary’s pregnancy and Isabelle is made to touch where the baby is kicking in the womb. Isabelle’s nervousness stems from the fact that she is equally pregnant.

Uncle Bob arrives after Lucas talks about the letter he sent to Steve about the event. There is a dart game in which Uncle Bob wins a teddy bear. The prize is given to Mary’s children. The previous year, Uncle Bob won a stuffed dog and gave it to Mary’s children as well. Isabelle feels a need to inform Lucas of her pregnancy for him but ‘she is still afraid of his reaction and feels ashamed because of social mores and what their parents might say. . .’ (126). She wants to tell him about it that night.

Maurice Richard soon arrives. He is Lucas’ idol. Lucas goes to meet him for an autograph, encouraged and supported by Isabelle. Lucas is in disbelief as he speaks with Maurice Richard. Maurice meets Lucas’ father. He signs an autograph for Lucas and Steve. A photograph of Lucas and Maurice is taken by John Clarkson.

The event is winding up and Lucas and Isabelle are heading back home. Isabelle asks Lucas if they could go somewhere to talk as she has something important to tell him. They decide to go to the land that Lucas’s father bought from Mr Thomas. There, Isabelle finds it difficult to speak and starts crying. But she is eventually able to inform Lucas of the pregnancy.

Lucas’ reaction to the pregnancy is noble as Isabelle explains that she is already through her first trimester – three months. Lucas promises to marry Isabelle soon enough under the right conditions. Lucas proposes they get married in November just as Mary and Joe did. Lucas is so happy and so is Isabelle.

Chapter 14

Lucas’ wedding to Isabelle is set for 15th November, 1958. Julia had bought the wedding dress for Isabelle as France now lives in Dalkeith, a rural area, following the death of her grandmother. She has no money to continue to live in Quebec alone after her grandmother’s death. France married Jean, a farmer, in Dalkeith and is pregnant with her first child. France does not know yet that Isabelle is pregnant as she helps Isabelle with her wedding veil. Isabelle wears a beautiful pearl bracelet gifted her by her grandmother. Isabelle’s mother gifts Isabelle a box that contains a lacy blue garter for her legs, which she made herself.

Mr Bourgeois is determined to walk her daughter down the isle. The marriage is to take place at the French church in Alexandria. Steve has come to attend Lucas’ marriage as his best man. Paul is Lucas’ nephew and is the ring bearer. Sylvie, Isabelle’s youngest sister, is the flower girl. Julia is Isabelle’s maid of honour. The narrator says this about Isabelle upon her entering the church for the wedding: ‘There she is, the most utterly gorgeous girl, wearing an exquisite gown. She is walking with her father, wearing her precious shy smile that Lucas has admired from the first day they met’ (135). The marriage is sealed with kisses and exchange of vows, after which everyone goes to Lucas’ parents’ house to celebrate.

Lucas and Isabelle spends their honeymoon in Toronto. After the honeymoon, Lucas and Isabelle return to Lucas’ parents’ house. The two families are yet to know about the pregnancy.

It is soon Christmas time, now one month after the wedding. Lucas takes Isabelle to visit her family. Every family member is present. We are informed that France and her husband are planning to buy a farm.

The Christmas meal at Lucas’ place is described: ‘. . . golden brown turkey with stuffing, marshed potatoes with glazed carrots, and hot rolls with different kinds of salads’ (137).

We are told that Mary has a new baby by name George. Joe, drunk, embarrasses Isabelle by asking when she will have a baby. Lucas intervenes and uses the opportunity to announce Isabelle’s pregnancy to the family. The news is well received by the family members. The news is also broken by Isabelle to her family before New Year’s Eve, and is well taken.  

France is in labour, Elizabeth announces to Isabelle based on the information sent in by Mrs LaSelle, France’s mother-in-law. In her excitement to inform Lucas about France’s forthcoming baby, Isabelle runs, stumbles and falls hard in the rocky bush path. It is Lassie, the dog, who barks to alert Lucas about Isabelle’s fall. Lassie runs to Lucas and leads him to the wife. Isabelle explains everything to Lucas. She is afraid that she might lose the baby. Lucas takes Isabelle home and explains what happened to the mother. Isabelle later notices a wet-bed, realises her water had broken and that she is in labour. The labour might be premature as Isabelle is not due till another three weeks.

Everything is put in the ready to take Isabelle to the hospital. Isabelle asks that her parents be informed. Two sisters, it would appear, are going to be at the hospital to give birth.

Chapter 15

It is May 27, 1959 at 9.45 a.m. Isabelle has been in the labour room for 24 hours but yet to give birth. Lucas is anxious as he waits in the hospital pacing. A nurse eventually comes out to announce the birth of a boy to Lucas. Lucas is excited at the news. He goes to see Isabelle. He is elated as he carries the baby. Isabelle wakes up and announces to Lucas that they have a son. Lucas names the baby Richard, after Richard Maurice, the hockey star, whom Lucas met the day Isabelle broke the news of her pregnancy to him. The baby’s full name is Richard Lucas Clarkson.

France has her baby at home as her labour was too close to allow time for her to be taken to the hospital. She also has a boy. Isabelle gives birth to a second son a year later on June 3, 1960. Johnny William Clarkson is the name of Isabelle’s second son. He is named after Lucas’ father and Lucas’ brother who died at birth.

Isabelle learns to drive and works at a sewing factory in Alexandria. Isabelle gives birth to a third son on September 1, 1961. Her third son is named Steve James Clarkson; he is named after Lucas’ best friend and Lucas’ elder brother.

The doctor warns Isabelle and Lucas against having another baby due to the complications of her past pregnancy. Lucas and Isabelle move to their own house because of their now large nuclear family. The place is not far from Alexandria. They are assisted to move there by family members. They had lived for three years with Lucas’ parents.

Lucas now works part time as a mechanic, and as a farmer with his father. He sells off his car, the Studebaker, and buys a 1954 Ford Wagon. Soon, Lucas begins to work as a full-time mechanic with one Claude Giroux, who is a class A mechanic. Lucas is not yet a certified mechanic and does not make enough money to take care of his family, so he continues to work with his father in the farm in order to complement his income. The narrator says this of Lucas and Isabelle: ‘. . . Lucas is a hard-working man and does what he needs to do to provide for his family. Isabelle continues to work in the sewing factory to help pay the bills because Lucas doesn’t want to depend on his father’s money and neither does Isabelle’ (147).

In a shocking turn of events, Isabelle gets pregnant again. This happens in the spring of 1962. This brings shock and fear to the couple especially considering the doctor’s warning to them about having more children. Isabelle gives birth to a daughter on January 19, 1963. It is a difficult birth but Isabelle is able to pull through.

Lucas names the baby Merybeth; it is a mixture of his mother’s and sister’s names. But Isabelle disagrees and names the child Lucy.

Debra’s sister, Diane, and her brother-in-law, Jim, visit Lucas one summer. Jim is knowledgeable about cars and is a class A mechanic in Uxbridge, near Toronto. Jim knew Lucas right from childhood because Jim and James were friends, as they both dated the Kennedy girls – Debra and Diane. Lucas’ nuclear family visit James and Debra’s place for a family gathering. Lucas discusses his dream of being a full time mechanic with Jim. He says he works on the farm to please his Dad but that his dream is to become a mechanic and own his own garage.

Jim makes Lucas a stunning offer; an opportunity for him to go to school in Uxbridge and then get his papers: ‘. . . My business is growing. So I’m looking for a good mechanic, somebody I can rely on and trust. There are lots of opportunities out there for you and your family’ (150, 151). Lucas is shocked and pleasantly surprised by Jim’s offer and needs some time to think it over, considering the impact it would have on his father, wife and children.

Chapter 16

Two weeks pass before Lucas could inform Isabelle about Jim’s proposal. Lucas would only leave Alexandria to take up Jim’s offer if Isabelle is comfortable with the move. Isabelle would go with Lucas to Uxbridge but Lucas needs to inform his parents, especially his father and other family members.

Lucas is insistent on following his life’s ambition of being a mechanic, knowing fully well that farming is not for him. Lucas gets assurance from Jim through a phone call that the Uxbridge offer still stands so that he could inform his father. Lucas informs his current master, Claude Giroux, about his big move and he gives Lucas his consent and permission to go. Lucas then informs his parents, who receive the news with shock and surprise. Lucas opens up to his father that farming is not his dream profession and apologises for letting his father down. Lucas says, ‘. . . I didn’t want to move far away from the family but this is a great opportunity for me – one that may never come again – and Jim will help me on my journey’ (158). This last statement is suggestive of the novel’s title.

Lucas’ parents are understanding and supportive of Lucas’ dreams. When it is time for Lucas to leave, the family farewell and goodbyes are full of tears. Lucas and his family depart to Uxbridge: ‘Lucas and Isabelle enter their vehicle and drive away as they wave’ (159). The journey to Uxbridge takes five hours. At Uxbridge, they stop at Jim and Diane’s house.

Lucas is to take a week off. He is to start working for Jim the next week and begin the mechanic school in the third week which will last three evenings a week for three years. Lucas and his family arrive their new home and Isabelle is impressed by the house. Elizabeth and John had joined them on the journey and are impressed by the house. James, Paul, John and Elizabeth go back home the next day after saying goodbyes.

The use of stream of consciousness in the novel is seen in the following words of Lucas: ‘My dream is coming true. . . Everything I ever wanted in life is right here in this house and this town’ (161).

Chapter 17

Lucas is now 26 years old and has been in Uxbridge for a year or two. He is doing well at work and at school. Isabelle is now a stay-at-home Mom and she has four children. We are introduced to Aunt Betty and Uncle Charles who are a childless couple and love it when Lucas and his family visit them. Betty is Lucas’ aunt, John Clarkson’s sister. Uncle Charles is also called Chuck. We are also told of Uncle Joseph and Uncle George, Lucas’ Dad’s brothers living in Toronto and working on the Railway.

There are signs that Isabelle is pregnant again: ‘. . . She seems to feel under the weather. . . feeling nauseous and sick to her stomach. . .’ (162). She vomits in the bathroom. She feels better, though, later in the day. When Isabelle feels the urge to throw up the next morning, she knows that she is pregnant again. She is nervous at the possibility of being pregnant because of how dangerous it is based on the doctor’s warning that ‘. . . she or the baby has a ninety percent chance of dying’ (163).

Isabelle calls the family doctor and reschedules an appointment for a test. Dr Coleman calls four days after the test to confirm that Isabelle is pregnant. The doctor asks Isabelle to visit him for a discussion because of her history of complicated and difficult deliveries. The doctor mentions haemorrhaging which was the problem of the last pregnancy.

Isabelle is in tears after speaking to the doctor on the phone. Richard, her son, asks why she is crying. Isabelle lies that she has bellyache. Lucas returns from work with great news; his successful repair of an old Studebaker car brought to the garage that day by one Mr Newman. The Studebaker reminds Lucas of his old car. His ability to repair the car is indicative of the advancement he is making as a mechanic.

Richard asks his father, Lucas, what a Studebaker is and Lucas explains that it is the car he drove while courting Isabelle. The fact that Richard needs an explanation in order to know what a Studebaker is shows the shift in time and generational changes.

We are told that Johnny, Lucas’ son, has taken a liking for cars. Isabelle informs Lucas that the doctor has confirmed her to be pregnant again. Lucas reacts in shock and alarm to the news. Lucas expresses his fears for Isabelle and the baby at delivery. Isabelle goes into labour on the 18th of March, 1966, at 4 O’clock in the morning when her amniotic sac ruptures. Isabelle informs Lucas she is in labour and needs to go to the hospital.

Lucas calls Aunt Betty and Uncle Chuck to come over and help care for the children while he takes Isabelle to the hospital. Aunt Betty and Uncle Chuck soon arrive to take care of the children. Lucas is depicted driving Isabelle to the hospital. She is in labour pains. They arrive at the hospital with Isabelle at the verge of giving birth. Nurse tells Isabelle not to push as she is going to have the baby through the Caesarian Section. Dr Coleman counters this and asks Isabelle to push. Isabelle gradually loses strength while pushing for the baby to come out. Eventually, Isabelle gives birth to a boy. But Isabelle is haemorrhaging and it gets weaker by the minute. She needs blood transfusion as she has lost a lot of blood. The haemorrhage is stopped eventually and Isabelle is hooked to a heart monitor. The baby itself needs medical attention.

Dr Coleman and Dr Davis inform the nervous Lucas outside that he has a baby boy that weighs ‘eight pounds and four ounces’ (171). They also inform Lucas of the critical condition of the baby and the mother. Lucas is dismayed and asks to see the baby which is now in the incubator. Lucas sees the baby and later sees Isabelle. Isabelle names the baby Thomas Charles Clarkson after Mr Thomas, her former employer. Isabelle is only able to return home from the hospital after two weeks. Lucas sees Thomas as a miracle child.

Chapter 18

The narrative voice returns to the present where Lucy lies unsconcious in the hospital. Then the story continues again with a call from John and Elizabeth about coming to visit Lucas at Uxbridge. The parents visit Lucas on a hot summer day. They are welcomed and dinner is served. Lucas senses that something is wrong with his father by the way he sounds. Later John Clarkson confides in his son, Lucas, on James’ intention to move to the city ‘so Donna and Scott can have better schooling’ (179). James wants to sell the house so as to pay for a house in the city. James now has another job which is log trucking and will not work in the farm when he moves to the city. These changes are of utmost concern to John since his health is deteriorating and he cannot work alone in the farm. Beside, he is now close to bankruptcy.

John then asks Lucas to move back to Alexandria with him because he needs his help around the house and in the farm. Lucas is reluctant in his response. John pleads with Lucas. Lucas finds himself in a state of dilemma on the issue of abandoning his dream in Uxbridge and returning to Alexandria to help his father in farm work, which he does not fancy. Lucas needs time to think over this issue and to discuss it with Isabelle. He also asks his Dad to inform his wife, Elizabeth, of the problems he is facing.

Chapter 19

Lucas’ parents are going back to Alexandria. John reiterates his need of Lucas’ help while Lucas promises to get back to the father after speaking with Isabelle on the issue. Isabelle observes correctly that something is not right with Lucas after the parents’ departure. Lucas explains that John is ill; his asthma is getting worse and that he needs his help back home as James is selling the farmhouse and moving to the city.

Isabelle is shocked to learn that John is going bankrupt. However, she is not comfortable moving back to Alexandria. This is one of the points of conflicts in the novel. In the end, Isabelle says that she will respect Lucas’ decision on the matter. Lucas decides to move back to the farm. Isabelle accepts to move with him: ‘Lucas, I would move anywhere as long I am with you and our beautiful children. . .’ (193).

Chapter 20

Lucas is moving back to the farm in Alexandria with his wife and children. There is an omen in the words of Lucas to Isabelle: ‘. . . but I have this feeling that life will never be the same’ (194). The moment of departure is quite significant and the narrator captures this thus: ‘Lucas takes a last look at their country home as he draws a huge breath and gets into the car. He recalls all the fun times he has had with Isabelle and his children, the growth he has had while living here, and the dream job that he is leaving behind. This will be gone once he drives off. . . he gets a premonition that his life will change but he brushes it off and starts to drive’ (195). It is likely that Lucas will never become a mechanic.

The journey back is paused at Kingston where Lucas gives food to Thomas and his other children. Lucas arrives his father’s house safely with his family. They are well received by John and Elizabeth. During dinner, it is revealed that an offer has been made on James’ house. Lucas now helps his father in the farm. Isabelle goes back to work at Brown Shoe Company.

Chapter 21

Mr Bourgeois, Isabelle’s father, dies in 1969. He asks for Isabelle’s forgiveness as his last words. Isabelle’s trauma exacerbates after her father’s death, ‘as she has a hard time coping with her childhood issues’ (204). Isabelle bears these problems alone instead of confiding in her husband or sister. Lucas is now 30 years old and is the one running the farm. Since farming is no longer lucrative, Lucas sells off the livestock and focuses on log business. John Clarkson is now very sick and can no longer work. Lucas is only working for survival, ash he does not like the work.

Steve is back to see his parents. Lucas gets to meet Steve when he pays Lucas a visit. Steve has just bought a new airplane which is a realisation of his dream, but is a sad reminder that Lucas is yet to realise his dream. Steve visits Lucas and meets his name sake, one of Lucas’ sons. After dinner, Lucas fills Steve in on his life, especially the Uxbridge experience and how he came back to help his father. Steve wonders why Lucas would abandon his mechanic dream to help his father. At the same time, Steve commends Lucas’ selflessness.

Steve is now a lieutenant in the Airforce. He is happy that he got his own airplane and promises to give Lucas a ride someday. Isabelle later joins the two men in the discussion. Soon, Steve leaves so as to catch a flight the next morning to Alberta. This is the last time Lucas would see Steve.

The Airforce calls Lucas three months after to announce a tragic air accident involving Steve while flying his airplane. The call is made by one Colonel Howard Smith. Unfortunately, Steve dies in the accident. The funeral has been pre-arranged and Steve’s body will be brought back to Alexandria the following week. Note the use of rhetorical question in the following words: ‘How on earth is he [Lucas] going to tell them [his children] that Steve, so young, so vital, is dead and will never be taking them for a joy ride in the sky?’ (213).

Everyone in the family mourns for Steve, including Isabelle, whose trauma increases with each loss. Steve’s death reminds Lucas of past memories when ‘he and Steve were young and carefree’ (215). Lucas supports Mr and Mrs Lewis, Steve’s parents, in their moment of grief.

Darcy, Mary’s child, is killed in an accident one month after Steve’s death while taking a cow across the road. This adds to the collective trauma of the family.

Chapter 22

Four of Lucas’ children are now in school. It should be noted that none of Lucas’ children is 12 years old yet. Isabelle is yet to disclose her childhood trauma to anyone, even as she ‘continues to put on weight as she tries to cover up her painful memories’ (217) with self-hurting practices. Lucas also has his own struggles with past and present conflicts as can be seen in the following expressions by the narrative voice: ‘Lucas needs to live in the present, but the past was so much easier and filled with such joy that is now diminished’ (217).

The theme of family values is raised in the novel and captured by the narrative voice thus: ‘Lucas has always been a loving father and husband, for he has never disappointed his family. He has dedicated his life to his parents, his children and, most of all, Isabelle’ (217). We are told that Lucas’ father, John Clarkson, now needs an oxygen tank to survive.

It is now 1971. Richard’s class are going on an end-of-year trip to Upper Canada Park. Richard is sick with high fever after he bathed in the cold water, his teacher having forgotten to read Isabelle’s note. Richard is taken to the hospital. The doctor says that Richard has a virus. He is given Tylenol and fluids are recommended as well. Richard fails to get better. He is then taken to the General Hospital in Cornwall. There, he is admitted in the emergency room. Dr George MacDonald eventually informs Lucas and Isabelle that Richard is ill with Meningitis, which is consistent with the symptoms – fever, headache, lethargy and nausea. This alludes to Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen where Vicky, Ada’s child, has meningitis. Richard, according to the doctor, is in critical condition and has a fifty-fifty chance of survival. Lucas and Isabelle are to sign some forms in order to be allowed to see Richard and for more medical procedures to be carried out.

Richard starts to recover after one week. His parents are happy that their son did not go the way of Darcy.

Chapter 23

Lucas and Isabelle are happy in their marriage despite not having a lot of money. Lucas meets Ron, a friend, where he went to purchase chainsaw parts. Ron informs Lucas that a cable company is recruiting in the area. Lucas is interested in the job but wants to discuss it with Isabelle first.

Note how Lucas breaks kitchen rule by tasting Isabelle’s chicken sauce because the sauce is so irresistible. Lucas informs Isabelle of the job opportunity at the cable company. Isabelle says she will stand by Lucas in his new job decision. Lucas sees the job opportunity at the cable company as a second chance after his dream of becoming a mechanic fell through.

Lucas goes with Ron to apply for the job on a Monday. They soon have their job interview and are hired. Then they go to Alexandria Hotel to celebrate with a beer. Lucas rushes home to spill the news to Isabelle and his family members while Ron returns home to inform Janet, his wife. Lucas informs his wife and family about landing the job. He decides to take the children out for a celebration.

Lucas is promoted at work after a few months. He now drives a company truck with a CB radio in it. Lucas earns better now and the family has financial freedom.

Chapter 24

The narrative voice returns to the present where Lucy lies in the hospital. Lucas continues to tell the story. Isabelle is now 31 years old now. France has become obese and developed type II diabetes. . . ‘she has gotten worse and her heart is in overdrive’ (237). This is what Jean, France’s husband, tells Isabelle. Isabelle promises to see Jean and France the next day. Lucas permits Isabelle to take sometime off to help nurse France back to life.

Isabelle helps France to lose weight and improve her health. Isabelle returns to work after her sister’s health has improved. France’s health ‘takes a turn for the worse’ after six months (238). She blames herself for her health issues. She even confesses to Isabelle that she is dying. Frances cries out for help as she does not want to leave her children behind. Isabelle’s children come to visit France in the hospital. At length, Isabelle leaves, hoping that France will get better, only to receive a phone call from Jean three weeks after about the worsened state of Isabelle’s health.

Isabelle arrives at the hospital within an hour. She finds the doctors and nurses trying to revive France with a defibrillator but with no success. Eventually, France is declared dead. The narrative voice, through stream of consciousness, depicts her death thus: ‘France, her beautiful older sister, her protector, her confidante, her best friend in the universe. . . is gone’ (243). This statement exemplifies euphemism.

At France’s funeral, Isabelle reads a eulogy for her late sister. In the eulogy, Isabelle describes France as ‘. . .my closest friend’ among other epithets (244).

Chapter 25

It is now 1974, two years after France’s death. France’s fate is staring Isabelle in the face, as she has gained weight like France. Isabelle joins a programme and is able to lose weight for a year. The organisers of the weight-loss programme advise Isabelle to attend a conference in Toronto to speak on her success story. Isabelle wants to dedicate her speech to France.

Isabelle leaves for Toronto for the conference. She wins the crown, chosen because ‘She has lost the most weight and kept it off for over a year’ (247). Isabelle returns home after the conference.

Work is taking Lucas to Kemptville, far from home. He is going to take a higher position beyond supervisor. Lucas leaves for Kemptville. He mostly returns on weekends to be with the family. Note how Lucas takes his children to little towns ‘where they teach the children the history of the towns and how settlers survived back in the late 1800s and early 1900s’ (249). This is an instance of historical allusion in the novel.

Isabelle’s trauma is reported in these words: ‘As Lucas works hard to support his family, Isabelle slips back into painful thoughts of her childhood and anguish over the death of her sister’ (250). Lucy catches Isabelle crying and hiding something in a pillow. Lucy later finds out that Isabelle had hidden the picture of France in the pillow. This shows that Isabelle is suffering from depression.

Isabelle complains to Elizabeth of ‘. . .feeling really sick’ just as Lucy wants to inform Elizabeth of what her mother is going through (251). Isabelle slips into unconsciousness after telling Elizabeth that she is scared. Elizabeth calls an ambulance. The paramedics, one of them is named Dave, rush to help Isabelle when the ambulance arrives. Isabelle is taken to the hospital in the ambulance while John drives Elizabeth to the hospital as Lucas is away at Kemptville.

Elizabeth calls Lucas to inform him of the incident but his phone is unanswered. Elizabeth meets a nurse at the hospital. Isabelle is in room 38. Dr Mckenezie tells Elizabeth of Isabelle’s condition. Tests are conducted but the results will be out the following day. Elizabeth should call the hospital for the results. Elizabeth is able to meet Isabelle before leaving the hospital. Note how Elizabeth talks to the unconscious Isabelle as if she could hear her. Elizabeth goes home and calls Lucas again. Lucas heads home from Kemptville immediately he learns of the tragedy.

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One thought on “An Analysis of Susanne Bellefeuille’s Path of Lucas

  1. Thank you so much for this beautiful masterpiece. My kids and I are grateful for your page sir.💐

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