Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The problem to be explored is to discover the reason(s) some of her readers find connections to place in the Manawaka fiction of Margaret Laurence. The problem also includes the determination of the meaning of place to Laurence, her female characters, and her readers, both casual and critical.

This exploration includes the examination of her five Manawaka works of fiction, the review of critical analyses of her work, a consideration of reader-response and feminist theories, and a visit to Neepawa, Manitoba, the physical place after which the fictional Manawaka is modeled.

Laurence defines place by geography and people. The physical place of Manawaka becomes a place of entrapment for the five female protagonists through its patriarchal institutions. They attempt an escape from the entrapment by leaving Manawaka and seeking a freedom to achieve individuation and to find their own voices. They, in fact, find freedom by making connections to others, particularly through their maternal heritage, and by returning physically or metaphorically to Manawaka, where they are able to reconcile themselves with their pasts. They are able to survive, to achieve a degree of individuation, and to find their own voices. In the process, they discover new meanings of place, including Alcoff's "woman as positionality"--a place within, from which they can move forward and beyond.

The connection some readers make to place in the Manawaka fiction of Margaret Laurence is derived from a response of recognition by reade/.s from a variety of backgrounds and education to the readily identifiable places, people, and situations presented in her work. As one of her enthusiastic readers, my response has been enhanced with new insights by adding life experience and the study of critical analysis and feminist theory to my transaction with Laurence's narratives. It can be concluded that the reason many readers make a connection to place in Laurence's narratives is that everyone has a Manawaka —a place within, a place to be divined and a divining place. The meaning of place must be discovered by each person, and each person has a place where discoveries are made.