Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Post 3:

What was unique about the setting of the book and how did it enhance or take away from the story?
The setting of the book is St. John's, Newfoundland. I think the setting is unique because most books are set in the United states, or if in Canada, they are set in a big city like Toronto or Montreal. I think it added to the story in two different ways. It made the book interesting. Not only were readers learning about the characters but readers were learning about a part of Canada, not commonly known. In addition, it gave the reader insight into why the characters were what they were. Newfoundland shapes its citizens because of it's climate, its island geography and its economy.

In what ways do the events of the book reveal evidence of the author's world view?
I believe the events in the story reveal many thing about the author. The Ryans are a strong Catholic family. Wayne Johnston grew up in a Catholic family. Wayne describes the intricate relationships between the family members perfectly, suggesting he has real life experience in dealing with interpersonal family issues growing up. He was born in St. John's, Newfoundland the same place this story takes place in. The Divine Ryans is strongly influenced by Wayne Johnston's life experiences and views.

How do the Characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes?
The characters in The Divine Ryans change throughout the book. The two most noticeable changes in character throughout the book were Draper and Linda. Draper’s widowed mother, Linda, experiences a change in character. She becomes stronger in her beliefs, more independent and strong willed. In the beginning of the book, Linda was a weak creature. She let Aunt Phil bully her. Aunt Phil made decisions and choices against Lindas will and her wishes for her child, while Linda sat meekly back not raising her voice. Linda was distant from her children, shut inside herself. Slowly throughout the book, Linda regains her confidence. She starts waking the kids up at night to have secret meetings. In the meeting she laughs with the kids, playing dress up with Father Seymour and Aunt Phils underwear.  The most drastic change happens when Aunt Phil threatens to go to court and declare Linda unfit to be a mother, thus taking away her kids. Linda finally stands up for herself and takes the kids away from their dysfunctional and damaging family.

How is this book uniquely Canadian and how might it speak differently to Canadians than people in other countries? And/or how does this book not depend on nationality?
This piece of literature is uniquely Canadian. Canada has a strong foundation in immigration. All Canadians except the First Nations are immigrant or decedents from immigrants. Because of this a major theme in Canadian writing is characters who immigrated. The Ryan family immigrated from Ireland. Draper’s grandfather was the first Ryan to build a life in Canada. In the book, the Ryan family, who are Catholic, are in a conflict with their next door neighborhood the Barter family, who are Protestant. Their religious prejudice stems from their Irish heritage. In addition, a northern environment is another main theme in Canadian literature. The Ryans’are an enclosed and withdrawn family, a characteristic of a northern based climate culture. Also the book is set in Newfoundland, a Canadian province recognized for its rocks, harsh winters and fishing; all Canadian constants. Readers in other countries will not understand the Newfoundland culture which is the setting of The Divine Ryans. Newfoundland is very isolated, they live on a island. It’s a rural population with few major urban centers. This forces the civilization to be self-reliant. Their winters are long, harsh and cold. Poverty is an economic reality in much of Newfoundland. As a Canadian, we understand this and what makes the characters who they are.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Post 2:

              The book The Divine Ryans is a coming of age story about 9 year old boy named Draper Doyle Ryan. His father has recently died leaving his widowed mother Linda, and his sister, Mary, to move into his Aunt Phil's house. Under the constant eye of Aunt Phil and the recurring presence of minister Father Seymour, Draper struggles to live up to the Divine Ryan name. The Ryan's being a highly respected Catholic family who run the local funeral parlour and newspaper. The author guildes Draper though several rites of passage. Draper has an ice hockey face-off with his physically superior sister Mary, a disaster in church with a visiting archbishop, a surreptitious extended shopping spree to purchase replacement underwear and a misadventure boxing match, as one of 'Father Seymour's Hundred'. Drapers life unfolds while he struggles with being haunted by his dad's ghost and attempting to reconnect with him. Uncle Reg, the voice of reason, guides Draper through his struggles. Enjoying puns and adjusting famous quotations and situations to fit random circumstances, Uncle Reg makes sense of Draper's life.

           This book contains universal themes. Draper grew up in this book, discovering himself and growing comfortable in his own skin. We all grow up, facing that struggle to figure out who we are in this world and who we want to be. The Doyle family also fights against the loss of Draper's father, and the decline of their businesses. It's a universal feeling to experience loss. Everyone has lost someone. In addition, with the recession still in context, families repeatedly deal with a struggling income. The themes displayed in The Divine Ryans are universal and something everyone can relate to.



            Wayne Johnston was born on May 22, 1958 in St. John's, Newfoundland. His parents were Arthur Reginald Johnston and Genevieve Everard Johnston. He was one of five siblings in a strong Roman Catholic family. His books are largely based on what he experienced as a child growing up. He began his career working on pre-Med student but quickly changed and obtained a BA in English from Memorial University. Continuing his studies, Wayne received a MA (creative writing) from the University of New Brunswick. Wayne Johnston is an acclaimed Canadian writer. He has won awards like, The Charles Taylor Prize, and his books repeatedly have hit the bestsellers list. Some of his written works include: The Divine Ryans, The Story of Bobby O'Malley, The Time of Their Lives, Human Amusement, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams and Baltimore's Mansion: A Memoir.

Helpful Link

ALLEN, BRCE. "The River That Might Have Been-The lure and lore of Canada's outpost Alantic  province are unforgettable conveyed by two brilliant novel from Newfoundland." World and I Mar. 2000: 268. Canadian Perodicals Index Quarerly. Web. 15 May 2012.

Taylor, Jim. "Wayne Johnston." Twenty-First-Century Canadian Writers. Ed. Christian Riegel.        Detroit: Gale, 2007. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 334. Literature Resource Center. Web. 5 June 2012

Friday, 11 May 2012

Post 1:

Claire Semple
Mrs. Van Wely
May 11, 2012

The assignment was to find a novel written by a Canadian author. To write a blog based on the specific themes, relevance to current society, your opinion and about the author. My book is called The Divine Ryans. It is a coming of age story about a boy growing up dealing with the pressures of living up to a controlling, overbearing family, and figuring out where his place is in his new family dynamic. The Divine Ryans is written by Wayne Johnston a famous Canadian author who wrote books such as The Colony of Unrequited Dreams and Baltimore's Mansion.