Margaret Laurence 's novel A Bird in the House is a collection of independent and intertwined short stories written from Vanessa MacLeod 's point of view. As an adult looking back on her childhood, the protagonist examines how she, and essentially everyone in her life, experiences a sense of entrapment and a need to escape. Because the author begins and concludes the novel with the Brick House, the major theme of escape is shown to have developed in Vanessa as she matures through childhood and adolescence and becomes an adult.
Firstly, Margaret Laurence emphasizes that freedom and escape are always within reach, even if one does not notice or believe it. For the majority of the novel, Vanessa 's greatest want is to escape the confines of Manawaka (her hometown), the Brick House, and Grandfather Connor. Vanessa finds freedom as the novel concludes when she drives past the Brick House as an adult; she finds her escape in the very thing she wished to escape. Not only are the beginning and ending of the novel significant, but the opening and closing paragraphs of each chapter prove to be of importance as well. The chapter The Mask of the Bear opens with a description of the bear coat Grandfather Connor wears during the winter. As a child, Vanessa thinks that it is extremely heavy, and she cannot physically carry it. However, she does not question how her grandfather “could carry that phenomenal weight on himself, or why he would choose to, because it was obvious that although he was old he was still an extraordinarily strong man, built to shoulder weights” (56). Though physical strength was apparent in her grandfather, Vanessa originally did
not characterize his inner strengths and hardships as co...
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...a takes after Ewen, you [Vanessa 's mother] know who she really takes after” (33). Edna implies that Vanessa shares many features with Grandfather Connor. Vanessa 's growth from the opening lines to the closing lines proves that Manawaka, the Brick House, Grandfather Connor and the rest of her family will always be a part of her past and present.
A Bird in the House is a novel by Margaret Laurence that perpetuates the idea that Vanessa MacLeod 's longing to escape the confinements of the Brick House, extending to Grandfather Connor and the rest of her family, is resolved as she becomes an adult. She settles this desire in the Brick House and her maternal grandfather, the very things she wished to leave behind her. Her inner victory is not a triumphant one, but it is one that was battled through the deaths and losses of many loved ones and expands through many years.
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