In A Bird in the House, Margaret Laurence is able to incorporate many themes and motifs into her stories such as, war, tragedy, religion, and faith. Another theme that is also shown throughout the book is identity, both national and individual identity. National identity is defined as “ a sense of a nation as a cohesive whole, as represented by distinctive traditions, culture, etc.” (“national identity”), while individual identity is what makes a person unique, it is what a person believes, thinks and feels. Sometimes in life identity gets mixed up and can become a confusing aspect of life. People are a product of their environment, which is a factor in shaping identity. The protagonist in the book, Vanessa MacLeod, witnesses and
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Since Grandfather Connor is defined as a Canadian stereotype he is described as an “upright man” who had authority and did not ask or expect help from anyone. He has old fashion values and is protective of his family, this is shown especially when one of his daughters, Edna, has a male friend over and Grandfather Connor is dismissive of her friend. He only shows emotion when his wife dies and everything he love is “shattered”(77). His believes in family values as well as religion stems form the traditions of a cohesive nation and his Irish Heritage.
The first time that Vanessa becomes confused about the concept of identity is when Grandfather Connor’s brother, Uncle Dan, is introduced. He tells everyone how Irish he is and Vanessa’s mother and aunt tell her that he is no more Irish than Vanessa is. Uncle Dan has never left Canada let alone been to Ireland. However he embraces his Irish heritage despite that fact that he had never been to Ireland. It is respectable to be proud of your heritage even if you have never been to the country your ancestors are from. People find it admirable when traditions are kept alive, strong and true. Some of the traditions that he liked to keep alive included talking with the “stage Irish” (Laurence28) accent and he “sang Irish songs” (22). Uncle Dan’s identity was very much embedded in the