To Everything There is a Season

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					Overview / Introduction

In Alistair McLeod's short story, “To Everything There Is A Season," the author
depicts the anxieties and reservations of the narrator's transition between childhood
and the adulthood, ultimately demonstrating the decay of childhood through how it
manifests itself and the journey to the realisation of reality. This story also allows the
reader to understand the importance of change in one's life. The story is set on
Christmas Day and the weeks preceeding, when the whole family was waiting for the
eldest brothers arrival. By seeing through the author's eyes, we can understand the
turmoil and conflict as he feels he is trapped between two sides, not only childhood
and adulthood but traditional and global values. Christmas in so becomes an
extended metaphor for what globalisation is and how it affects individuals. Within
the narrative structure of the story, the author tried to hold onto his past by
perceiving himself as the "innocent" child who still believes in Santa Claus. However,
in the end he realized that not matter how hard he tries to stay as a child, time will
still move on proving to be the major source of conflict within the novel. This reflects
the impact of globalisation on individuals and communities.

Exploration Into the Text and Values Upheld Within The Narrative Structure

The narrator of the story is troubled at his questioning of the nature of Santa Claus.
However, in the end he realized that no matter how hard he tries to stay as a child,
time would still move on. Santa Claus is symbolic of the author's only connection
with his slowly fading childhood. This is shown through the quote, " For without him,
as without the man's ship, it seems our fragile lives would be so much more
desperate." The only hope the author sees in the situation is Santa Claus and by
grasping onto the Santa Claus myth, the author feels safe, as he is uncertain of what
is in store for him in the future. Despite the authors " attempted perpetuation" of
the Santa Claus myth, he is fully aware of the growing up and leaving one's comfort
zone" can sometimes by quite intimidating, but in order to make ones life
meaningful, one must first be willing to take risks and be quick to adapting to
changes as chances will slip away unexpectedly.

The metaphor " It is as if I have suddenly moved into another room and heard a
door click lastingly behind me, I am jabbed by my own small wound," describes the
authors feeling of sadness and fear from the transition from his childhood into the
adult world. The scene before this metaphor describes the author's realization of his
forever departure from his childhood world, as his presents are no longer from
"Santa Claus" unlike his younger brothers.

Christmas is usually a holiday filled with joy, laughter and excitement for those
within the stage childhood however for the author, this Christmas meant the mark of
his entrance in the adult world. This is evident through his personal quote of ". so
much surprised and touched by a pang of loss at being here in the adult side of the
world," thus demonstrating he is uncertain of the future and afraid of losing his
childhood innocence and memories. However, at the end of the story his farther
reminds him that, " . There is no need to grieve. He leaves good things
behind." This concluding statement from a figure of admiration eg the comforting
fatherly influence illustrates that within the context of the story, It is true that in the
transition between childhood and adulthood one may lose some memories along
the way as they grow up, but it also true that the future awaits us with new
challenges and rewards.

Parent response

Throughout the novel the emotion and expressions conveyed through the parent
characters in regard to the influence of the global world are ones of hesitance and
reluctance to assimilate, while these characters also fight to regain traditional values
and customs. We view the parent’s response to the global world through quotes
such as:

“My mother has been fairly tolerant of my attempted perpetuation. Perhaps
because she has encountered it before.” - demonstrates that she has been subject
to the influence of the global world however declined to associate and can relate to
her child own experiences as she also has been in a similar position

“ She was already married when she was 17,” – This quote illustrates her mother’s
traditional values of marrying at an early age in order to provide a stable foundation
for the rest of her life, a custom not commonly undertaken in the global world.

 Upon the older brother return from the realm of the global world the parents
reluctance to accept their eldest son returning from a contrasting world to their
own and then simply returning to the more conservative rural society that the
parents have raised him by, is conveyed through the quote of, “ My mother places
her hand to her lips and whispers thank god my father gets up unsteadily from the
chair to look through the window Yet in spite of his happiness he seems surprised
at the appearance of his father who he had not seen since March. My father
merely smiles at him, while my mother bites her lip.”

However interestingly the text still retains elements of family hierarchy and tradition
despite the controlling influence of the global world. We are evident through the
textual evidence of, “My father sits beside him on an overturned pail and tells him
what to do. Sometimes we argue with our father. But our brother does everything
he says.”

Children Response

The children’s response reflect how the changing focus of the youth of today in
relation to the retaining of traditional culture and heritage juxtaposed to their desire
to venture into the global world to experience the contrasting culture of the global
world based on greatly contrasting values and tradition. The children within the
novel respect the contributions of the rural family based lifestyle but are also keen
to affiliate with the seductive notion of the global world imposes of the youth of
today. We view this through their admiration for their big brother who is a symbol of
the present generation who have ventured into the global world from such humble
beginnings eg, “Our golden brother is here at last.” And their eagerness to interact
with one who has experienced the contrasting culture and tradition of the global
world is conveyed through the quote from the children “we would extend our
coldness half a continent away to the great lakes of Ontario so that it might hasten
the coming of my older brother Neil.”


Kenneth’s character specifically represents the growing youth in a world that is
consistently becoming more introcuced to globalisation as demonstrated through his
love of Halloween. He brings a feeling of magic, which reflects the response to access
to the global world. Also his naivety, represented through his belief in Santa,
demonstrates that to fully embrace the global world there has to be not only open
mindedness but also a level of ‘censorship’. This establishes how the responses to
the global world are distinguished between children and adults.


-      Traditional employment (labour) on a larger scale represents the
intercommunication and growth of industry in a global market. Neil’s vast exposure
to the global world is conveyed through the symbolic nature of the travel path of his
luggage being of great distance into the vast expansive territory of the global world,
something of great admiration for his younger sibling demonstrated through the
quote of,” Already his cartons have arrived. They come from different places:
Cobourg, Toronto, S.T Catherines, Welland, Windsor, Sarnia, Sault Ste. Marie. Places
that we, with the exception of my father have never been. We locate them excitedly
on the map, tracing their outlines with eager fingers.”

-     he represents exposure to place beyond the farming environment which
creates a divide between the global and rural lifestyle, but also curiosity and

-     his world is the global world (he chooses to travel) but “his time is more
precious than his money” reflecting the values which are in his heart

-       gives his family exposure to the global world


    -    tumultuous journey to realisation of the global world, initiated through his
         realisation that Santa is in fact made up.
    -    Unsure which values to embrace. Enticed by the global life his brother
         portrays but appreciates the traditional values his family have ensued with

Key Quote in Relation To Philosophical Paradigm of Globalisation
·    “He is most sympathetic of all concerning my extended hopes, and he says
we should hang onto the good things in our lives as long as we are able.”

This quote demonstrates McLeod’s hesitant acceptance of the global world
impending influence. He suggests that it is inevitable that one will succumb to the
global world but encourages the audience to retain and carry tradition values and
customs into the global world before it is too late, suggested through “ hang onto
the good things as long as we are able.”

·     “ He will have to fly because his time will be more precious that his money...
his coming seems to depend on so many factors which are out there far beyond
and over which we lack control.”

McLeod privileges the desire to retain family connectedness and values over the
manipulative and controlling influence of the global world. The use of his time being
more previous than his money is used as a symbol of how family values still reign
supreme over the selfish capitalistic desires that the global world contributes to the
individual. However McLeod offers a sense of stark realism through illustrating, “His
coming seems to depend on so many factors which are out there far beyond and
over which we lack control,” Emphasizing that the although one priorities may lie in
the realm of traditional family values and customs those who assimilate into the
global world no longer have the ability to control their actions between these two
contrasting worlds and this their actions are controlled my external factors that are
out of the individuals control, much to the dismay of those who lie in the traditional

Religious Paradigm – Christmas

In this text Christmas is a symbol for the role and manifestation of globalisation. It
encompasses traditions whilst also reflecting the many facets of the globalised world
such as materialism and consumerism. Christmas is a time for sharing and hope as so
demonstrated by the detailed descriptions into the formalities and traditions of
Christmas in the story. These are upheld and valued most within the story. However
new traditions introduced by Neil, the brother exposed to global culture, which
involve the introduction of things the family never imagined possible even though
they aren’t revolutionary ideas. This reflects common attitudes towards
globalisation, that surprise and intrigue by new ideas and new possibilities.
Globalisation can be said to be at its best when both the tradition ways of thinking
are integrated with new technologies and ideas. Christmas is an ideal representation
of this concept.
Concluding Statements

Conservative values are privileged through MacLeod placing significance of family
values and strong relationships. However through the construction of tumultuous
and unsure characters he creates a sense of confusion and uncertainty towards
which belief is right.

The naivety and blissfulness of childhood is ultimately privileged as demonstrated
through consistent positive references to belief in Santa. MacLeod values childhood
as time of innocence and wholesomeness and in so conveys adulthood as being
corruptive and trapping, and denounces responsibility over others.

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