Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
~  Molly  Ahearn ~

Halifax Harbor Explosion 1917

The Destructive Influence of Lies and Secrets in the Works of Ann-Marie MacDonald

Ann Marie  MacDonald
The Halifax Harbor Explosion of 1917 brought World War I to Canada. The explosion was a direct result of Canada’s involvement in World War I. Canadian troops fought alongside British forces because Canada was a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Mont-Blanc, a French merchant ship carrying explosives to Europe collided with the Imo, a Belgium relief ship, on the morning of December 6, 1917 in Halifax Harbor. After the collision there was an explosion that killed and injured thousands; survivors were hurt, and left homeless and jobless. People worked hard in the relief efforts to rebuild life in Halifax through medical aid and reconstruction of the city and its surrounding areas. The explosion brought the war to Canada and the people experienced it for themselves. James Piper, a character in Ann-Marie MacDonald’s novel Fall On Your Knees noted “Halifax has been blown up...The war has grazed the edge of Canada, is all” (Fall On Your Knees 111).

MacDonald’s novels, Fall on Your Knees and The Way the Crow Flies are driven by lies and secrets. In her novels, lies and secrets destroy the character’s relationships. Those who learn the truth eventually are able to move on and grow in spite of their pasts while the characters who never learn the truth are trapped in their ways, never given the opportunity to learn about themselves and mature. In Fall On Your Knees the father, James Piper loses his wife and daughters to the secrets that he keeps from each of them. The healthy relationships between father and daughter, husband and wife, and mother and daughter become unhealthy because of the lies and secrets, as well as miscommunication between characters.

Major Works Consulted:

The Halifax Explosion. CBC/Radio-Canada. 2008. http://www.cbc.ca/halifaxexplosion/ (10 February 2008).
MacDonald, Ann-Marie. Fall On Your Knees. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.
---. The Way the Crow Flies. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.
MacDonald, Laura M. Curse of the Narrows. New York: Walker, 2005.
Photo Credit: MacDonald, Ann-Marie. The Way the Crow Flies. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.


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