The Loons Analysis Essay

In her short story “The Loons”, Margaret Laurence employs the theme of racism and poverty as a medium to vent, and highlight the indignities of the Metis community. The story’s central, and dichotomous symbol,–the Loons–, as well as the author’s compassionate tone uniformly evoke and portray sympathy toward the Metis community. The story’s main focus is on both poverty and racism; the two challenges threatening the continued existence of the Metis culture. Together with increasing urbanisation, the cultural environment of the Metis community is, just as well, effectively destroyed. The story portrays the death of the Metis culture as a consequence of not only poverty and racism, but also as a result of increasing urbanisation: their changing,…

She is constantly working at home because “[her father] would never do anything for himself as long as she’s there’ (Laurence 89). The constant work at home and the harsh living conditions all pile up, creating a dejected character. Piquette’s face, as a result, is ‘coarse-featured’ and expressionless, “as if she no longer dwelt within her own skull” (Laurence 91). Her head bears a facade of a mean life, brought about by the harsh conditions of poverty. Piquette’s eyes, which are black, mirror a feeling of hopelessness in her character. To vanessa, Piquette “remained as both a reproach and a mystery” because her child labor at home was a life inconceivable to the rich, outside world (Laurence…

With her new lifestyle, Piquette is spontaneous–a flamboyant version of her then younger and dejected self. This gives Vanessa a quizzical look, uncomprehending Vanessa’s blinding change.“Her face, so stolid and
expressionless before, was animated now with a gaiety that was almost violent” (Laurence 94). Like her father, and also because of trying to fit in, Piquette inevitably becomes a reveler. We begin to see this pattern of poverty unfolding in the Tonnerre family.
Older now, Piquette marries an Englishman to seek end to her poverty, a revelation which creates an epiphanic moment for Vanessa. The Englishman works in ‘stockyards’, from which it can be implied that he has economic stability. When Vanessa catches this news, she can’t help but notice “the terrifying hope” in Piquette’s dark and hopeless eyes; the marriage would end poverty.“Her defiant face, momentarily, became unguarded and unmasked,…” (Laurence 95). But their relationship is futile–her lack of education resulting in two closely born babies, and worse a break-up. She now becomes single parented, just like her father. And with life-ending poverty, she goes back into her father’s shack–the house which her grandfather has lived in for fifty years. We can sense chronic poverty collectively prevalent in the Metis…