“Such a sort of pariah”: Psychosocial Marginality and the Bildungsroman in Mazo de la Roche’s Whiteoaks
This paper explores Mazo de la Roche’s peculiar articulation of the Bildungsroman in the first of Jalna’s sequels, Whiteoaks. It argues that the text’s psychosocially aberrant protagonist, Finch Whiteoak, is a Bildungsheld whose modern coming-of-age process of accommodation and assimilation into a socio-specific norm is not as much a progression toward the centre as it is a simultaneous progression/regression toward a reification of his exemplary marginal status as an other amidst others. This paper further contends that this unique process is made possible only by Finch’s particularly unstable and eccentric otherness—established through his treatment by his family as variously mentally ill rather than disabled—and that this process is both externally regressive in a vein similar to the modern, female Bildungsroman and internally progressive in the vein of the classic, male Künstlerroman. In order to accommodate this duality of publicly typical and privately subversive otherness, Finch must navigate the diegetic realm’s social boundaries and liminal spaces through a series of “double lives,” in which the other is ultimately found within the home context and potentially subversive centralities outside of Jalna are sacrificed for the sake of representative marginalities at home.
genre, bildungsroman, disability, psychosocial, marginality, Canadian
Master of Arts (M.A.)