Elmer's English 304 Magazine
Ana, Annie and Daphne
by Elmer G. Wiens
In Ana Historic, Daphne Marlatt investigates how immigrants enter the reality of their new surroundings, continuing lines of thought she developed in "Entering In." Marlatt probes the life of Annie Anderson, who is researching the life of Ana Richards, a widow who lived on Burrard Inlet after migrating to Canada from England sometime in the 1870s (39). As a young girl in 1950, Annie herself immigrated to North Vancouver with her parents and two sisters (27). Interestingly, Marlatt's family also immigrated to North Vancouver with her parents in 1951 (Entering 220). Using the stream of consciousness technique, Marlatt explores simultaneously the thoughts and feelings of Ana and Annie, deriving many parallels between them. At the same time, she projects her own family's experiences as immigrants into the lives of her characters, giving the novel an autobiographical flavour.
Annie wants to write a history of Ana Richards: her marriage to Ben Springer, how she dealt with schoolchildren, friends, and the Siwash Indians, and her perception of the woods on the mountains that loom over Burrard Inlet, and the events that shaped the beginning of Vancouver. However, the few facts of Ana's life that appear in the civic Archives of Vancouver limit her research. History turns into fiction as Annie imagines a life for Ana Richards that fuses with Annie's own dealings with family and friends. The dichotomy between recorded facts and the imagined life of Ana Richards, a pioneer schoolteacher, tugs at Annie throughout the novel.
Marlatt, Daphne. "Entering In: The Immigrant Imagination." Canadian Association for the Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies Session, Learned Societies Conference, U.B.C. Vancouver, 30 May 1983.
Marlatt, Daphne. Ana Historic. Toronto: Anansi, 1988.