Unintentional Allusion: The Albino Canada

So allusions can be intentional and unintentional right?

While reading Barney’s Version there was one point in the book that I thought was alluding to the Canadian literature “canon”, but I knew was not really. This part was when Barney marries his first wife Clara because she is pregnant. Seven months into her pregnancy she has a stillborn child, who turn out to be not to be Barney’s child because the baby is half African American.

I thought alluded to the fact that Canadians so desperately wanted to have an identity, they accepted the white-dominated literature to be a representation for Canada, forgetting about any of the culture not represented under this supposed canon.

Just as Barney believes the child is his, Canada (or at least Canadians represented in the canon) believes that the literature is Canadian.

Of course some of the literature did represent part of Canada, but not all of it. As pointed out in class it was not until 1960’s that Aboriginal Peoples in Canada began to find their voice through literature.

Richler, of course would not have been a writer who was omitted from this canon which is why this is an unintentional allusion. It is often stated that he is part of the Canadian canon. He was a white Canadian. Sure he was Jewish, but as pointed out multiple times in the novel, being Jewish was not always a bad thing.  In the novel Barney shows this by using his the threat of another Holocaust to convince people to fund the United Jewish Appeal.

When the doctor asks Barney is the child’s baby and Barney says that he is the doctor answers by saying, “you must be an albino” (117). I think that this completely summarizes what the Canon did for Canada. It made all of Canada appear to be from European decent, forgetting about the Aboriginal Peoples and those of hyphenated identities who immigrated to Canada. The multiculturalness that Canada is so proud of today did not exist in the literature Canon.

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