§ion=&combo2=&text1=&text2=&SocNetUsername=&SocNetPassword=&authCode=& 7th Decade Thoughts: Rockbound by Frank Parker Day

7th Decade Thoughts

Thoughts about books, politics and history (personal and otherwise), pictures I've taken and pictures I've edited.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Rockbound by Frank Parker Day

This is one of those books I'd never have found except for an online bookgroup, though I think it's been featured in a national reading program in Canada. It was written in 1928 and republished recently with extensive notes.

It's about a small Nova Scotia fishing community on an island named Rockbound in the early 20th century. Two related but feuding families dominate the island. The novel opens when David, an orphan, comes back to the island to live in his mother's house and work for his kinsman, Uriah Jung. David brings a fishing boat, the Phoebe, that he's salvaged and joins the fleet with Uriah, a miser and a manipulator if there ever was one, and his sons, none of whom has the smarts, business acumen or sheer audacity of their father. David has sympathetic ties to the Krauses, in the person of Anapest, a Jung who married and became a Krauss (the other party to the feud). Anapest--how she got the name of a rhetorical figure I've no idea!--heads the Krause family. She's a strong woman--one had to be to survive the life on the island--and almost matches Uriah for audacity without having lost her humanity. Still women were inferior in that time and even she advises young women of spirit to follow their fathers' advice on decisions like marriage.

What's fine about the book is the picture of the lives of the fisherman--what and how they fished as well as how they preserved and marketed the fish, the dangers of the sea and of storms breaking over the rocky island, the isolation which is in part self-imposed as the community asserts its superiority over those who live on the mainland. It was a supremely hard life, and those who lived it recognized their own superiority in hard work and tough spirit.

The families on the island are descended from German immigrants of the last century who have lived in an isolation that is clearly on the verge of being breached by the modern world. The entrance of Mary Dauphiny as teacher in a local school promises access to the outside world to the young people who will grow up able to read and write (as many of the fisherman, including David the hero, can't) and to communicate effectively with more language tools than the locale patois.

David's story is mythical in proportion. He starts with nothing, becomes a sterling worker who is not rewarded but who retains the humanity his employer has forfeited. He's assigned the dirty tasks which he does cheerfully. He humbles himself to learn reading and writing as an adult. He's the sole survivor of a hurricane. He loses the love of his life and is generous in his sadness and unlike his friend, the lighthouse keeper, seeks no revenge. And, like Cinderella, wins both love and the place in life he craves in the end. Posted by Picasa


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live quite near the area the book was set; though, I do not live in the same province. I'm reading this for a class I'm in; it's pretty good so far.

2/01/2010 10:26:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home