A lot of great Canadian authors base their books on the prairie or land and its inhabitants. Wild Geese by Martha Ostenso is a wonderful example of this. Throughout the novel, many references are made to natural elements and also animals. Three very noticeable references could be picked out. These references were made to Judith, who is seen as a wild horse, to the wild geese that always move to new places, and also to the weather and how the family’s attitudes and emotions, especially Caleb’s, are changed by it. Wild Geese are talked about quite frequently throughout this novel.
There are many references to people who are compared to the wild goose, along with what they symbolize. Lind Archer, the schoolteacher, is considered the wild goose for the first while. She came from a large municipality, to a region beyond human warmth..beyond even human isolation.. (Ostenso, p.34). Mark Jordan is also compared to a wild goose for fundamentally the same reasons as Lind. When he first meets Lind, she thinks that his cry seems to be a, smote cry upon the heart like the loneliness of the universe..
(Ostenso, p.53). Both Mark and Lind can be compared here, because they are both lonely and isolated. The wild goose symbolizes moving, loneliness, and isolation. Moving is shown when Mark and Lind come from their large municipalities to move up north to a very cold and unfriendly place. Loneliness is shown again through Mark and Lind and how they both miss their life before.
They have very few friends and are moderately secluded to a very little area. Isolation is also shown by the fact that they are secluded and also that they are in the middle of nowhere with no one within a close distance to talk to. They feel isolated form society because the farms are so spread apart. In the end Mark and Lind move together to go back to the large municipality and wild geese are referred to again. They moved back to where they came from and realized that like the wild geese, they were moving again and that life was, an endless quest..(Ostenso, p.302).
Judith is frequently compared to a wild horse. This is due to her personality, body structure and features. Judith has, a great, defiant body, her chest high and broad as a boy’s; her hair was wild-locked and black and shone on top of her head with a bluish luster; her eyes were in sullen repose now, long and narrow; her lips were rich and drooped at the corners. (Ostenso, p.8) Lind eventually begins to see Jude as, a beautiful creature. She’s like a – a wild horse (Ostenso, p.76).
Lind is not the only one who sees Jude as a horse. Sven looks at her and sees, Her head was high and fine as that of a thoroughbred horse (Ostenso p.178). Although everyone sees Jude as beautiful in her own way, Jude sees herself as unattractive. She feels that she works too hard and that, She was not an animal, to be driven, and tied, and tended for the value of her plodding strength (Ostenso, p. 235). Jude acts out like a wild horse by not wanting to stay in her household.
Caleb tries to keep her like a domesticated horse, inside and with the rest of the family, by she feels that she needs to run free and have her own life. You can not keep a wild horse locked up, it will eventually get away and that is what happened with Jude. The weather is often referred to as a natural element throughout the novel, which symbolizes the family’s mood and emotions, especially Caleb’s. You will find that when the weather is good, so is the mood and feeling of the family and Caleb. October came, and the languid peace of Indian summer. In the early morning a milky scud hid the horizon, but by noon the entire sky was clear and blue as a harebell (Ostenso p.300). This is after Caleb’s death when the family is free from worry and reign.
When the weather is bad, and harvest is delayed, or something else that needs to be done on the farm, it usually foreshadows some unhappiness in the household. It rained steadily for two days (Ostenso p.232). This foreshadows Caleb’s unhappy mood shown towards the family, especially Amelia and Jude. It also shows that Caleb is still upset about the ax thrown at him by Jude. The weather is also shown to foreshadow the tension that will be lying ahead in the household. On a late afternoon in July, before the haying began, the cattle on the swampland to the north came hurrying home, bawling out their warning of the approaching storm…
Close to the earth there was a pale, unnatural glow, like the reflection from a white fire. Higher up the air was slag-grey, hanging in sultry folds… Suddenly a greenish light shot up as if from below the horizon… Hail, (Ostenso p.159). This symbolizes the coming of Malcolm and how once he arrives the tension in the family is greatly increased.
Not only by Caleb, but also by Ellen and a little by the rest of the family. Almost every time that the weather is mentioned it is used to foreshadow upcoming events, these are just a few times that it is shown. In conclusion, there are three main elements of the novel. They are all mentioned many times throughout the novel and are all there to symbolize something. The geese symbolize Mark and Lind.
The horse symbolizes Judith. And the weather symbolizes the mood and emotions of the family, especially Caleb. There are a lot of great points in this novel and it is very educating and interesting. It is a great novel to read if you are interested in prairie literature, or even just for the enjoyment of reading. Ostenso is a fabulous writer and really made it clear to see the symbolic paraphernalia in the novel.
This novel is spectacular for every one of all ages to read. Bibliography Ostenso, Martha. Wild Geese. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1961.