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A close reading of The ascetic in a canoe

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  1. Introduction
  2. The metaphorical and actual symbol
  3. Linking fatigue
  4. The strongest moments of the essay
  5. An interesting view into the psyche
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

Through his essay, The Ascetic in a Canoe, Pierre Elliot Trudeau attempts to describe his personal relationship with nature, through imagery, visualizations and deep descriptions of Canada's natural environment. Nature is shown as a companion in the otherwise vast openness. Nature is the great equalizer, where man must rely upon himself for survival and must trust his instincts.

[...] Trudeau spends most of his essay praising the simplicity of nature and lamenting complications of life. Through various tactics, the foremost being the analogy of a canoe in nature, the reader can deduct more than if he were to state his complaints, outright. Nature is described as a place of renewal. The reader, with knowledge of Trudeau's public life, understands his stresses and his need for escape. He writes, throughout the final paragraphs, that man is dwarfed by our seeming obsession with our own lives. Too often we loose sight of the and as we [...]

[...] This essay reads as an interesting view into the psyche of a deeply private and fiercely intelligent Prime Minister. Often thought of to rely on reason, without allowing emotion to overtake him, here, Trudeau opens himself up and allows his eloquence to drive the story he is telling. He is appearing very vulnerable by exposing his inner thoughts and need to retreat from the outside world; yet, he does so without appearing weak because he permits the words to take hold of the story, without inserting too much of himself, personally into the essay. [...]

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