From Earthly Bonds to Rural Revival: Aging Narratives in Elizabeth Hay’s Snow Road Station and Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days



Rok publikování 2024
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Popis The paper analyses representations of female ageing in Elizabeth Hay's novel Snow Road Station (2023), which reflects on Samuel Beckett's play Happy Days (1961). The protagonist, 62-year-old actress Lulu Blake, who embodies the character of Winnie in Beckett’s play, faces the challenges of her ageing and commencing sociocultural invisibility. It is the rural Ontario landscape, with its fields and lakes encircled by winding country roads as it changes throughout the seasons from snow-covered to leaf to an autumnal blaze of colour, where Lulu finds refuge and inspiration for her thwarted aspirations. Through Lulu’s introspective journey, interwoven with reflections on Winnie, Hay’s text addresses specific issues of women’s ageing, including societal pressures on appearance and the taboo of older women’s sexuality. Lulu and Winnie navigate not only the physical but also the metaphorical entrapments of ageing, Lulu’s existential entanglements, unreliable memory, and profound search for meaning intertwine with Winnie’s plight. The characters, driven by the human need for companionship, seek connections through friendship, reminiscence, and dialogue. While Lulu cannot entirely break free from the metaphorical state of being half-buried in the mound of earth, she manages to transform the earth from a confining element into a tool of liberation. Her decision to leave the city and embrace rural life not only symbolizes a personal transformation but also contributes to a broader discussion on sustainable living. The direct connection between Snow Road Station and Happy Days, embodied by Lulu’s dual identity as both an actress and an ageing woman, adds a layer of intertextuality that enriches the exploration of the aging process in a uniquely Canadian context that resonates with themes of landscape, sustainability, and the evolving dynamics of community life.

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