Robertson Davies' Fifth Business, Anne Proulx's The Shipping News, Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion, and Jack Hodgins' The Invention of the Wo

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Myth and history are necessary in explaining the world, and can be depended upon for guidance with one as reliable as the other. The idea of place, with its inherent myth and history, is an important factor in one's identity because place shapes character and events. Robertson Davies' Fifth Business, E. Anne Proulx's The Shipping News, Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion, and Jack Hodgins' The Invention of the World use myth and lore to describe the obstacles which the protagonists and others must get over or confront in order to recover their perspective identities. Place anchors the novels in Canada: Fifth Business in Ontario, The Shipping News in Newfoundland, In the Skin of a Lion in Toronto, and The Invention of the World …show more content…
If a person learns from myth to live in this world as a whole person, she has a truth at least as functional as one taken from recorded history or documented fact. Billy Pritty in The Shipping News does not use recorded scientific methods to chart his way in the water, as one who studies history might. Rather he relies on oral tradition to keep his boat from hitting known sinkers. Enveloped in thick fog, Billy uses a rhyme from the time when people sailed without modern aides such as charts or lights: When the Knitting Pins you is abreast, Desperate Cove bears due west Behind the Pins you must steer 'Til The Old Man's Shoe does appear. The tickle lies just past the toe, It's narrow, you must slowly go. (175) The idea of finding one's path by way of myth or oral tradition is typically Canadian, since not all of Canada has been mapped from the ground. In many cases myth is more reliable than recorded history because its telling goes back farther in time, and thus it existed before documentation. It had power before the printing press inked history books. Further, the example of the "Gammy Bird" (a paper that prints fake advertisements and recycles wrecks to present them as new) as a spreader of information and truth proves that documented "facts" are not always to be believed. Dunstan Ramsay in Fifth Business argues that

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