Content or Context:
An examination of short stories in "From Ink Lake"
The Short Story "Be Fruitful and Multiply", by Madeleine Ferron, may in itself seem to be merely the story of one young woman's fervor for creating a family of many children and grandchildren. Due to it being extremely short and marginally descriptive one might have a difficult time discerning little beyond its literal meaning. However due its placement in Michael Ondaatje's collection "From Ink Lake" the stories which precede and follow it and their respective meanings can be used as a guide to shed greater light on Ferron's work. One must consider the meanings of these stories, Clark Blaise's "Dreaming of Rocket Richard", and Guy Vanderhaeghe's "The Watcher", in relation to Ferron's work as in this case Ondaatje, working as an editor, has purposely selected stories comment on one another; possible creating meaning that would otherwise not be thought of in the context of a single story alone.
One must also not discount the possibility that through the arrangement of his selections Ondaatje has the possibility of altering the intended meaning of any given story based on its new context within his collection. The selections as a group alter and enhance each others meanings and interpretations.
In light of the works of Blaise and Vanderhaeghe, Ferron's story becomes a survival story similar to the stories that precede and follow it in the collection. Though each story is different, all three can be interpreted in this way based on the common threads of their respective protagonists; similar family relations, disassociation from their home environments, and the adversity which all three face and overcome in one way or another. Survival is a common and distinct theme in Canadian literature, as outlined by Margaret Atwood, and though the protagonists in...