I found Be Fruitful and Multiply in the collection that keeps on giving, From Ink Lake. Medeleine Ferron was a French-Canadian writer. One site states that she was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. Another says she was born in Louisville, Quebec, about 34 km from Trois-Riviéres. The second site is from BookRags and the biography there is substantial. She lived a long life and had several published works. They were all written in her native French. The short story I read was an English translation of the original French work. I’ve discussedtranslatedworks a few times before. If I knew it was a translation and where to get the original work and it was maybe seven years ago, I might have tried to read it in French too. As it was, Be Fruitful and Multiply was an quick little synopsis of the life of the unnamed main character.
I have nothing against unnamed main characters. I’ve ready many stories where the main character is never named. My issue was that this story felt like an overview of someone’s life. The first thing that hits you is that the “woman” being married is 13. Her husband is 18. The ages are shocking, but I thought, at least the husband wasn’t 43. Her life then becomes all about family. She is described as a cog in the machine. Without her husband, she doesn’t know how to identify herself.
After her husband is gone, she visits her children, but there are 22 of them scattered across several provinces and a few in the States. She has a hard time keeping track of them and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In the end, it seems as though the author is trying to create sympathy for the main character, but all I could really think was that the entire situation seemed a bit crazy. Not just the age of the woman when she was married or that she just seemed to manufacture children, but that these children are passing her from one to the next and she has a difficult time keeping it all straight. I supposed this is where the sympathy from the reader is supposed to come it, but I just didn’t feel it. I don’t know if it’s Ferron’s style or the style of the translation. It was short, easy to read and boring.