Title page for ETD etd-04182012-164219

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Smithson, Tara Beth
Author's Email Address tsmith2@tigers.lsu.edu
URN etd-04182012-164219
Title Between Bodies: (Re)Constructing the Corps Québécois in Roch Carrier's La Guerre, Yes Sir!
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department French Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Yeager, Jack Committee Chair
Jensen, Katharine Ann Committee Member
Peters, Rosemary Committee Member
  • Post-Colonialism
  • Québec
  • Roch Carrier
  • Healing
  • Time
  • Zombies
  • Wounding
  • Cannibalism
Date of Defense 2011-12-15
Availability unrestricted
Published during Québec’s Révolution Tranquille, but set during the final phase of World War II, Roch Carrier’s novel La guerre, yes sir! (1968) chronicles how one community copes with the sober homecoming of its first “son of the village” to die in the war. The novel centers on the fallen Corriveau’s repatriation to what was then considered French Canada. The body’s passage from one realm, in Europe, associated with French Canada’s multi-layered, quasi-colonial control, to another, in soon-to-be Quebec, associated with the province’s self-definition and burgeoning sense of sovereignty, offers an allegorical commentary on the Québécois people’s passage from a “colonized” to a “decolonized” people.

The introduction, “Body in Transit, Body in Transition,” explores the importance of the novel’s setting and its period of publication as two critical moments for the Québécois. The second chapter, “Colonizing the Body: Hurting,” outlines how Carrier depicts the Québécois body as colonized, drawing on the imagery of colonial wounding evoked by writers such as Albert Memmi, Frantz Fanon, and Jean Bouthillette. It also examines the significance of Carrier’s depiction of the wounded Québécois body as zombified and cannibalized, employing imagery historically associated with colonial control. Finally, the finite, linear vision of time that characterizes the initial scenes constitutes another form of wounding or “temporal trauma.” The third chapter, “Decolonizing the Body: Healing,” investigates how the family’s reception of the repatriated body begins the healing process. Thus, the abject state of Corriveau’s corpse functions not only as a source of horror, as Julia Kristeva suggests, but also epitomizes Mikhail Bakhtin’s grotesque body, with all the creative potential to outgrow itself. Likewise, Corriveau’s symbolic cannibalization by his community becomes a form of reappropriation, reversing the initial depiction of violent consumption. Consuming Corriveau becomes both a source of comfort and a symbolic Eucharist that transforms Corriveau from a living-dead or zombie figure, made to labor in the service of another, to a supernatural Christ figure, capable of transcending death. The final chapter, “Corps and Clocks: Ticking Toward a New Time,” elaborates on the meaning of Corriveau as a “body clock” that measures the end of one era and marks the beginning of another.

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