The Plot, Volume 3

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[edit] The Plot, Volume 3

[edit] Overview:

John Richardson's Wacousta is a text that familiarizes itself with the tale of Canada and how it came to be. Wacousta is an important text because it gives readers the opportunity to understand the nature of contact between the English, French and Indigenous people and how difficult it was to create peace when violence was a mean of resolution. The conflict created by Wacousta and Charles de Haldimar is one that sets the tone for the entirety of the novel and with it a story of revenge was created. This conflict fueled Wacousta’s desire to seek revenge on Charles de Haldimar. As readers we learn that revenge leaves those who seek it are consumed by it thus leading to the demise of Wacousta. In Summary, Volume 3 of John Richardson’s Wacousta is the final resolution of all the conflict in the novel. Volume 3’s contribution to the work as a whole is critical because it identifies all the inconsistencies in the characters story and our willingness as readers to take the side of the main character, Wacousta. There is a common theme of deceit and the fear of the unknown that is seen throughout the novel and especially in Volume 3.

[edit] Chapter 1

Entering the first chapter of the final volume, the reader finds the characters on a schooner heading down the Sinclair river following the disappearance of the young chief in a canoe. A quick plot twist occurs only two pages in as Jack Fuller becomes convinced that “what he had seen was no other, could be no other, than a ghost” (341)! Combined with dark language depicting “the deepest gloom” and “the threatening state of the atmosphere” (341), this volume takes on a gothic appeal in comparison to the generally realistic style we have so far seen. As the characters react to the idea of spirits aboard their boat, the combination of such as well as the fact that “none slept” (342) leaves everyone on edge and questioning what Fuller may have seen. This continues for 10 pages as they debate different explanations that could have been mistaken for this ghost. Finally, on page 346, Captain de Haldimar jumps into the canoe where they think they see the ghost and realize it is indeed Madeline de Haldimar. This realization brings the story back to a realistic perspective but the brief gothic section serves to display to the reader a perspective on the many terrifying and difficult hardships they went though, further allowing the reader to connect more deeply with the characters. The further in-depth description on Madeline’s “grief which calcined and preyed upon all other feelings of the mind” (348) also helps with the insight on the aftermaths of the very violent period they lived in. After the initial hook into this volume, the second half of the chapter sets up a pathway for the plot as Captain de Haldimar and Sir Everard Valletort discuss the next course of action following the death of the previous captain, Danvers. Worries that they might be “seen by [their] enemies” (350) in addition to the danger of the dangerous Canadian waters prepares the reader for a difficult journey back to fort Détroit. A promise of money for Mullins and his boat crew if this task can be completed is offered which excites them all but as he proclaims that “the lads may take the money, if they like; all I care about is the king’s commission” (351) and emphasizes that he would do it for free especially for the protection of the two women aboard. The chapter comes to a close with a return to Madeline’s doing as she is observed to be recovering well from the previous horrors and she begins to eat and talk again. Overall, this chapter begins with a huge hook to entice the reader and then nicely sets up an idea of where the volume is heading while leaving some cliff hangers as the reader wonders about what dangers they are going to face on the journey back.

[edit] Chapter 2

Chapter 2 opens with Madeline de Haldimar recounting the events that transpired at fort Michilimackinac which then lead to their current situation. Beginning with a planned attack by the 'Indians', the reader is immersed in the vigorous battle that takes place where many are killed. The thorough retelling of the fight brings the reader to learn more about Madeline as a character. Through the chaos, she is rescued by Captain Baynton who tries to save her and bring her upstairs. This event exposes Madeline as someone who refuses to be escorted to safety when others were in danger and instead wants to “return again to the scene of death, in which her beloved parent was so conspicuous an actor” (359). This paints her as a very caring individual who does not think of herself first. Her attempt to return to her father’s side results in a loss of consciousness after she falls over Middleton’s body. When she regains, she finds “herself in the firm grasp of an Indian” (360) and struggles without avail to escape. We find out the 'Indians' name is Oucanasta and upon realization that she is trying to help her, Madeline ceases to resist and follows her plan which eventually brings her to the schooner. This is an important turning point as it not only emphasizes the theme of fears of the unknown outside the walls of a fort, in line with the theme of the garrison mentality, but proves that not all of the unknowns are dangerous. The reader also gets to enjoy an increase involvement of female figures which have not been overly displayed thus far. As Madeline considers “a friend in Oucanasta” and thinks of her as “a generous creature” (364) it further amplifies the perhaps unnecessary fear of the unknown. This theme continues after the schooner crashes and a fallen tree leads to a fear of an impending ‘Indian’ attack. The initial reaction of the British, believing that the tree is a sign of an impending attack, suggests the theme of the garrison mentality because this is a fear of nature due to its connection to ‘Indians’. Again, the fear of the unknown (not knowing how the tree got there) continues to push the plot forward. In this case their fear was well placed as the scalped head of Jack Fuller is found and a further attack upon the schooner by the 'Indians' evolves into a full-on battle which results in a takeover over the schooner. This leaves the survivors to be the "bound and passive victim[s] of the warrior of the Fleur de lis" (375). Overall, this chapter truly displays the sometimes-misleading mindsets in regards to the fear of the unknown, and the final staged attack which displays the intelligence of the ‘Indians’ which until this point has been drastically undermined.

[edit] Chapter 3

Chapter 3 takes place back in fort Détroit as questions arise regarding the mission to fort Michilimackinac. Those in fort Détroit question its success as it is revealed that they had been waiting for over a week for the signal to come from Frederick de Haldimar and Valletort. This leads to “a nervous anxiety of the officers” which becomes “more and more developed” (377) and an overall unease around the fort. Again, the theme of the unknown is prevalent as they wonder what may have happened on their journey.

The plot thickens when something mysterious is seen in the ditch, described as “a dark and motionless object” (378). It is determined to be an ‘Indian’ spy and Charles is sent off to find his father and receive further orders. As he does so, he comes upon his sleeping father and subsequently letters, seemingly from his mother, as well as a miniature which holds a portrait of her. This is identical to the one that his sister Clara was wearing when he last saw her. The plot advances as the reader learns that these discoveries could be “violating some secret of his parents” (382) and the anger his father shows upon discovery furthers this claim. As Charles is sent back to the ditch, the ‘Indian’ has left but leaves behind the object that he was holding. Casting a reflection on the opening volume’s drawbridge disasters, we see the first time an officer leaves the fort alone but also returns safely with the portrait of Mrs. de Haldimar in his hands. Unsure how to interpret the meaning behind it, the men argue between it as a sign of “the destruction of [their] last remaining friends and comrades” (388), while others believe “the bearer came not in hostility but in friendship” (388). Unsure of its true meaning, the chapter ends with Charles putting the portrait in his pocket and returning to duty.

Overall, this chapter gives the reader a grounding on what is happening back in fort Détroit where those captured on the schooner had been trying to get back to. It also displays how interconnected all of the characters still are despite being in very different places and situations, pushing the plot forward as the reader continues to search for all of the strings that will tie it all together.

[edit] Chapter 4

The chapter follows Charles as he is mourning the potential loss of his family members and friends. He walks around the fort and recalls the mystery packet he picked up, connecting the portrait to the familial secrets of his own and Halloway. He eventually catches up with Blessington, they talk about Reginald and the package Halloway had before he was killed. Blessington and Charles' conversation contributes to the theme of secrecy, and alludes to this volume's theme of uncovering truths as Charles states, "Halloway was, in some degree or other connected with our family" (399). As they are walking back in, they see a large fire in the distance and hear a canon go off. Running to their posts, they notice how far away the fire is and see the schooner coming towards the fort. However, the schooner is not alone, and has a trail of many canoes following it. Charles is left wondering who is left on board.

[edit] Chapter 5

In this chapter, the soldiers notice their fellow troops are not on the boats, only the ‘Indians’. They grow wildly upset, and notice the boats stopping along the coast. The ‘Indians’ leave the boats, and the soldiers are mourning the very potential loss of their fellow soldiers and family members that were on the schooner. However, Blessington has a revelation and asks for the portrait from Charles. Blessington's revelation, and the portrait which is the "only hope of solving the mystery" (413), portrays a theme of hope for the survival and rescue of the de Haldimar children. The portrait breaks open revealing a letter which details how the English can be saved, but in a timely manner. The captains decide to take the risk to rescue the de Haldimar children and start making arrangements.

[edit] Chapter 6

This chapter focuses on the Colonel’s character, specifically how he relates to the execution of Halloway and his place as a father in the military. This change of viewpoint shows a theme of perspective taking, shedding light on de Haldimar's motivations/reasoning. From the Colonel’s perspective, Halloway was guilty of the crime he was accused of. De Haldimar is a military man, and sticks to the rules and regulations heavily. However, de Haldimar was making arrangements for a pardon to be granted if Halloway told the truth about his son and why he opened the gate. This did not take, as the ‘Indians’ ended up charging at the troops on the bridge, which the Colonel saw as an act to help their accomplice Halloway, and any pardon he was willing to give had disappeared by the time Halloway died. Halloways death conveys the theme of publicly punishing treason as the narrator states, de Haldimar “had acted from a conviction of the necessity of showing the enemy the treason of the solider had been detected” (423). His empathetic nature is revealed here, and his concern with his image in relation to his enemy, Wacousta.

[edit] Chapter 7

This chapter looks into where Clara, Ellen and Wacousta are. The three of them are inside a tent, with Everard tied to a tree outside. Ellen reveals she is Wacousta’s wife, but he returns with the demand that Clara will be his new wife. Wacousta attempts to explain his connection to Clara’s mother, which presents the theme of revelations and revenge as the reader learns with Clara about Wacousta's history and how “love for [her mother] and hatred for [her father] has rendered [him a] savage” (435). It is also revealed that Wacousta is a Morton, the brother of Ellen’s late husband's father. Wacousta’s hatred for de Haldimar is heightened when he makes this connection. Clara attempts to leave the tent and runs into Everard on the tree. The brief history of their soft relationship is explained, and Wacousta rips Clara from Everard to further explain his connection to her mother, and his sworn enemy, de Haldimar

[edit] Chapter 8

Wacousta starts to share his story to Clara which makes a clear picture of the motives and type of personality Wacousta has. He states that “during my boyhood… [I] loved to excite myself by encountering danger in its most terrific forms (449). The reader learns that Wacousta is a thrill seeker and this presents a theme of adventure as he enjoys being envied or feared by the others. Wacousta shows remorse when he speaks of his spirit of adventure growing stronger within him and wishes it had left him so that he might "never [have] been the wrench”(449) he is. The chapter concludes with Wacousta speaking of his love, and desire for Clara Beverley and lets his emotional side show only momentarily. This momentary depiction demonstrates the themes of perception and vulnerability as the reader learns that Wacousta is more than the hardened, vengeful persona he displays.

[edit] Chapter 9

In this chapter the reader learns about the tumultuous relationship between Colonel de Haldimar and Wacousta. Wacousta’s narrative paints the idea that he loves Clara Beverley, suggesting a theme of romance between Clara and Reginald as he was not yet the “savage” he is now. This chapter presents a theme of transition and responsibility or blame as Wacouasta compares his past, as Reginald to his persona of Wacousta and blames his violent actions on Colonel de Haldimar. Wacousta speaks of how handsome he was and that he “had not yet… turned to gall by villainy and deceit”(462). The main plot is established in this chapter with the deep roots of unpleasantries between Wacousta and de Haldimar.

[edit] Chapter 10

Wacousta gets Clara to leave her mountain Oasis to be with him. At times it seems that Wacousta might truly love Clara, however it is a sense of ownership that he feels towards her, which creates doubt as to the honesty of his love for Clara. After taking time to get Clara safely down the mountain, Wacousta refers to her by saying, “I felt that now my prize was indeed secured to me forever…” (479). Wacousta’s reference to Clara as a "prize" suggests a theme of the possession of women in the text. This also relates to the theme of secrecy as Wacousta wants to keep, Clara, his ‘possession’ at the cottage and away from his fellow officers. Once he takes her to the cottage and returns to the fort he is summoned away on a mission, and because he cannot get out of it he asks de Haldimar to care for his Clara, who he says is his cousin, until he returns. Wacousta reflects on the way de Haldimar seemed to be calm at the time, but looking back he seemed quite eager with the task.

[edit] Chapter 11

Chapter 11 examines the end of Wacousta’s story and his prisoners’ fate. When Wacousta returned Clara was “the… wife of yon false and traitorous governor” (487), and when he confronted Charles, he mocked him. Clara’s marriage to Charles displays a key change, and conveys the themes of lying and secrecy, because when Wacousta says Clara is his cousin he contradicts his self-characterization as honest, in chapter 8.

When Wacousta confronted Clara she apologized, claiming to love Charles more. Wacousta says he grabbed Clara, threatening to return her, so Charles could rescue her. This aggression shows a change in Wacousta/Reginald’s, caring treatment of Clara from the previous chapter. Wacousta hits Charles when he comes to Clara’s aid, and this, and Charles’ story of correcting Wacousta’s equipment was used against him. Wacousta states that Charles betrayed him, “every back was turned” (493), and he was forced out. When Wacousta learned that Clara died and Charles adored their children, he “resolved to turn [Charles’] …joy into bitterness” (495). Wacousta reminds Clara that he tried to kill Frederick.

While proclaiming victory, Wacousta hears something and the prisoners’ plan begins. Oucanasta’s brother cuts Valletort loose, and he carries unconscious Clara to the bridge, “over which lay his only chance of safety” (502), because Wacousta and Ellen follow. Valletort believes there are ‘Indians’, but it is Blessington, Erskine and Charles in disguise, which re-establishes the theme of deception.

While the officers exit, Charles stays on the bridge in Ellen’s hold, and Wacousta shoots him. The British capture Wacousta and this, and Charles’ death signify the theme that vengeance can lead to destruction of guilty and innocent.

[edit] Chapter 12

In chapter 12 the officers discuss Charles’ death and Wacousta’s punishment; “all concurred…that the death…was a judgement on their colonel for the little mercy he had extended to… Halloway” (507). The women gather to mourn/commemorate Charles by taking hair for each officer. The narrator suggests a contrast from mourning Murphy, when “in one, the rude soldier was mourned, - in the other, the gentle friend was lamented” (510).

Valletort claims Charles was like a brother and expresses regret for greeting him coldly as he rushed to safety. Blessington expresses guilt for not realizing Charles remained on the bridge. In this conversation, Valletort and the reader learn that the ‘Indian’ helping, changed Frederick’s plan to include capturing Wacousta.

This chapter demonstrates the theme of uncovering truths, as the reader learns that Blessington and the officers believed Ellen’s screams were one of the de Haldimar cousins. The whereabouts of Frederick and Madeline remain unknown; however, Blessington thinks they have been recaptured, and will be used to facilitate a trade. Valletort tells Wacousta’s story and again it is stated that Charles’ blood is on his father's hands. This responsibility displays the theme of vengeance, where children pay for their parents’ actions. Blessington states that Ellen disappeared, and when he leaves Clara and Valletort fulfill Charles’ wish by agreeing to marry.

[edit] Chapter 13

Chapter 13 focuses on Wacousta’s court-martial. When asked for a defence, Wacousta summarizes his life “proclaim[ing] [the governor] for a false, remorseless villain” (520). The governor says Wacousta will be hung on the flag-staff “exhibited to the misguided people” (521). The diction of “exhibited” suggests the theme that treason must be publicly punished.

Wacousta taunts the governor because Frederick is missing, and argues that if his execution is postponed he will have him freed, in exchange for execution by gunfire. Wacousta asks for his hands to be freed and mocks de Haldimar for refusing. Whence his hands are released Clara causes a scene and when Valletort tries to calm her, he calls her, ‘wife’ which shocks the regiment. The shock creates a distraction, and Wacousta climbs the flag-staff with Clara, threatening the officers trying to hack it down: “one stroke more, and she perishes” (527)! As Wacousta descends, the staff snaps over the ditch and Wacousta uses Clara to shield his escape towards the ‘Indians’ on the bridge. When Wacousta lifts Clara above his head in victory, Valletort shoots him. Wacousta beats Valletort so he is beyond saving, and commandeering Johnstone gun he fires at the rampart. The governor concludes that “private feelings must no longer be studied at the expense of the public good” (532), which is a change from previous actions to save the de Haldimars.

The officers watch the bridge as Wacousta kills Clara, striking and letting her fall into the water. The governor watches his daughter die and Oucanasta’s brother kill Wacousta, then announces, “the curse of Ellen Halloway is fulfilled” (535).

[edit] Chapter 14

In chapter 14, the narrator states, the “officers of the garrison reduced nearly one third” (538). Frederick, Madeline, François and Oucanasta approach the gate but, Major Blackwater refuses to open it without the governor’s consent. When Mr. Lawson returns from the governor’s apartment the theme of secrecy continues as he whispers to Blackwater before opening the gate. Oucanasta declares, “the Saganaw is safe within his fort” (540) and Madeline and Frederick express offerings of friendship and gratitude to her and her brother. These offerings signify change as the British demonstrate signs of friendship as opposed to violence. It is revealed that Mr. Lawson found the governor dead due to grief, which shows a character change, showing the Colonel’s emotional side. The governor being overcome by grief contrasts with chapter 5, when Blessington says Charles cannot grieve in front of his father because a governor cannot show weakness.

The chapter skips the trial and funeral, resuming with Oucanasta’s brother conveying Ponteac’s desire for peace. This conveys a theme surrounding peace and loss, suggesting that peace between fighting nations can be achieved whence both sides have suffered loss. Ponteac’s sincere proposal conveys a change from his attempt to use peace to destroy the forts. The narrator concludes that Oucanasta and her brother might be seen with Colonel Frederick and Madeline’s children. The novel ends referencing the gothic and mystery genres, noting that despite searching, Ellen “never was heard of” (543), which is a change from her presence and prophecy.

[edit] Work Cited

Richardson, John. Wacousta: or, The Prophecy; A Tale of the Canadas. Edited by Douglas Cronk, Carleton University Press, 1987.

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