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Literature / The Diviners (1974)

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The Diviners was a novel by Margaret Laurence, released in 1974. Not to be confused with the 2012 novel of the same name.


Some tropes appearing in the novel include:

  • Abusive Parents
  • Brave Scot : Piper Gunn, in the childhood tales Christie tells wee Morag.
  • Chubby Mama, Skinny Papa : Prin and Christie, respectively.
  • Disappeared Dad : Jules. He only visits a few times throughout Pique's life, though he carries a picture of her.
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  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion : Both a subversion and a straight version of the trope. Morag's friend aborts her pregnancy with a coat hanger. Christie takes the fetus to the Nuisance Grounds, to be buried—and it's not the first time he's done it, in his job as the town garbage man. The friend grows up to marry a local farmer, but because she can't have children, is considered "ruined" by the procedure. The experience affects Morag so strongly she writes a similar scene in her first novel (Story Within a Story). The details of the character and the scene are not fleshed out, although the character is a stripper.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold : The Story Within a Story Morag writes has one of these, dismissed (using the exact words) by a critic as being cliché.
  • Most Writers Are Writers : Morag becomes a freelance writer. Somewhat subverted, in that her life is realistically unglamourous, and she often has to take other jobs (cleaning lady, book store clerk) to pay the bills.
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  • Orphan's Ordeal : Morag's parents die of some illness (probably scarlet fever) when she is only five and a friend of her father's takes her in. Not as rough as some examples of the trope, but a difficult childhood.
  • Plot Device All Along : The kilt pin. The knife also appears in The Stone Angel, loosely tying the two novels together.
  • School Study Media : The Diviners is a common study in Canadian literature classes, along with The Stone Angel.
  • Suicide Is Painless: Jules Tonnere, after he becomes ill with throat cancer. Doubly tragic, considering the author's later death.
  • War Is Hell: Christie is a World War I veteran and suffers a vague sort of PTSD. That and his lack of education are the reason he doesn't have much ambition beyond the town garbage man.
  • "Well Done, Dad!" Guy: Morag, to Christie, in the hospital. "Well, I'm blessed."
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