The Mountain and the Valley
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The Mountain and the Valley is an affectionate portrait of David Canaan, a sensitive boy who becomes increasingly aware of the difference that sets him apart from his family and his neighbours. David's desire to write is the secret that gives this haunting story its detailed focus and its poignant theme.
Set in the years leading up to World War II and against the backdrop of the Annapolis Valley's natural beauty, The Mountain and the Valley captures a young man's spiritual awakening and the gradual growth of artistic vision.
irritating accumulation of data to be sorted and filed. The other two men made clumsy jokes between themselves about their nakedness—for the doctors’ benefit. They tried to establish some sort of contact with the doctors on the basis of masculine humour. The doctors joked with each other; the men’s jokes they might not have heard. One man glanced down at himself. “I wonder,” he said, “if they could give a fuhlla anything to make this thing grow.” “I wish they could,” David said. “In cold
stone. I could reach out and touch his face, she thought. Flesh, she thought, there’s nothing quite like it. There’s nothing quite like Toby’s strong young flesh to have near me in the quiet woods. They didn’t talk much. Their thoughts had an almost antiphonal, churchy sound in their heads, with the spell of the day. Ordinary words didn’t quite fit them. They were silent as children are, in a place so enchanting that they don’t trust themselves to speak about it, because it is splendid beyond
thrown behind the shop, grew sickly in the unwinking heat, almost to the eaves … until the day that was full of green to the last brimming: the white-green of the poplars and the oat field and the river: the storm-green of the orchard and the spruce mountain: the black-green of the potato tops: the green-green of the garden. Joseph walked back to the woodlot that day and blazed a road for the fall chopping; but not quite yet was there any yellow in the umbrella ferns. When Martha dug the mess of
why, when the house was quiet with the sound the silence makes to the only one awake, why did he think of the others—his mother and father and Chris? He pictured their faces. Defenceless in sleep, somehow they bore marks on them (which only he could see) of the way he’d felt toward them throughout the afternoon and evening. Why did he feel that he couldn’t wait till morning to talk to them, in front of Toby, about something Toby couldn’t share? Why did he want to creep downstairs and awaken them,
brother’s face looked struck.” He couldn’t go any farther. The cleansing cathartic of the first accurate line (there was the thing itself, outside him, on the page) made him close his eyes. He felt as if he were going to cry. His mother’s voice brought him up short. “Is that Rachel coming?” he heard her say to Chris. They were alone in the kitchen. “Yeahhhhh,” Chris said disgustedly, “that’s her.” “Is she past Ora’s gate?” “Yeahhh. She’s comin here. What does that old bitch want?”