The book, No Great Mischief, tells the story of the substantial branch of the McDonalds clan. The group settled on Cape Breton Island. Therefore, the book is considered to be a historical novel. The author of the book is Alistair MacLeod, and it was first published in 1999. No Great Mischief focus on the MacDonald's family. The MacDonald's are considered to be a fiercely loyal family that is motivated by their traditions. Additionally, the family has experienced trouble after they were exiled from Scotland. That period subjected the family to tragedies and hardship. The novel goes further to focus on Alexander and Calum. The two are brothers, and they have gone through numerous troubles together. Alexander has managed to become a successful orthodontist after the various childhood troubles while Calum is an alcohol addict (MacLeod 79). The book is centered on the themes of family, pride, brotherhood, and individualism. Individuals experience isolation when exiled from their families or their native home; In No Great Mischief, the characters witness a sense of cultural isolation when removed from Cape Breton, as seen in the characterization of Calum, Alexander, and Catherine. This predicament is epitomized in grandma's saying that "No one said that life is going to be a bed of roses" (MacLeod 292).
During the beginning of the Scottish migration, Calum and Alexander were forced to move from their native country due to undesirable situations that they were experiencing in their native home. Therefore, they moved to Nova Scotia because of the positive reports they heard from people who were already located in the area (Szamosi 38). They believed Cape Breton would provide them the required peace that they longed for after the troubles they faced growing up in the country as orphans. The Scotts who settled in Nova Scotia were all over Cape Breton because the area was mostly uninhabited during their time of arrival. The isolation of Cape Breton provided the immigrants with the opportunity to grow their Scottish culture. Therefore, the separation of the area by the natives made it easy for the immigrants to settle in the area (MacLeod 35). Consequently, Calum and Alexander found it easy to solve in the area before the cultural degeneration that was experienced.
The author of the book presents Scotland as a symbol of cultural preservation and sanctuary. This makes the characters in the book to desire moving back to their native country despite all the troubles they have experienced. Therefore, the characters fall back into their Scottish past as a means for seeking solace because of the difficulties they have started experiencing in Cape Breton. The Scottish people who settled in Cape Breton feel the cultural isolation and problems suffered when the authorities forcefully exile them from the Island to other places across the world. These incidents make Scotland to be portrayed as the ideal home for the characters (Hill 10). Calum, Alexander, and Catherine had settled in Cape Breton, and they considered the place to be their home.
Moreover, the area was filled by immigrants from Scotland. Therefore, they practiced their culture and followed most of their traditions. The kept on using their language and observed most of the myths. These instances made them feel at home away from home. They had found peace in the island. The narrator's grandfather is quoted as saying his generation was "crying for his history," Calum Ruadh had come to a foreign land, just lost his wife along the way and now had to lead his family into a new life, but "he got better and 'set his teeth,' as they say, and resolved to carry on." (Macleod 25). It took courage to do all this but he was repaid in the end and made a good life for himself and his family. The characters were able to grow in the area and were accustomed to the demands of the region. Consequently, the people who settled on the isle felt at home. Subsequently, when they were removed from the area, they felt culturally isolated because they were supposed to adapt to a new surrounding that they are not used to and they were old. It was easy for the characters to settle in Cape Breton because they moved there while they were young, and when reaching the region they found peace in the area, and most of the locals were people whom they could easily relate with. The characters have grown in the area and understood the demands of the region. Therefore, this is considered to be a challenge trying to settle them in other parts of the world (Gittings 1). The book symbolizes Scotland to be a safe place later in the chapters, but Calum and Alexander had been subjected to numerous problems in the country that forced them to flee. Therefore, the characters have grown knowing the island as their idea home and thus difficult for them to move from the region.
Despite the hospitality that Calum, Alexander, and Catherine received in Cape Breton when they arrived they always miss home. Furthermore, it is clear that they were isolated from their culture in the beginning when they were forced to move to Cape Breton. The book effectively uses flashbacks to showcase exciting stories of the region and how it affected the characters. Therefore, when the characters were removed from the island by the authorities, it was not the first time they were being separated from their culture (Hill 48). The characters have experienced cultural isolation across the book and being settled in their native country means that they are not necessarily separated from their culture but reunited with their traditions.
The cultural isolation prompts Calum to be governed by loyalty to his family rather than the available social norms of the 20th century that is experienced and practiced in Canada. Moreover, in the book Calum becomes a metaphor for cultural dislocation and degeneration of the diaspora experience. The cultural isolation leads Calum into numerous troubles in the foreign land. Furthermore, Calum has been imprisoned and spent much of his adult life in prison (Szamosi 40). Additionally, he never marries in the foreign land, and he is considered to be a drunkard in the region. This illustrates that Calum was affected by the cultural isolation even before they were removed from Cape Breton. Calum mentally suffers from the situations he was subjected to in the past, and that prompted him to move to Canada. Moreover, Calum still considers Scotland to be his home and wishes to go back.
Consequently, Calum has been adversely affected by the effects of cultural isolation since he moved from Scotland. Therefore, their removal from Cape Breton does not make him feel culturally isolated for the first time. According to Calum, he has suffered from cultural isolation, and this prompted him to be addicted to alcohol and commit crimes that have made him imprisoned for the better part of his adult life. Additionally, the cultural isolation he has experienced in Canada has promoted him not to marry because he does not feel settled in the island (MacLeod 58). Although the removal from Cape Breton brings on board a sense of isolation to Calum, he has lived with the feeling, and deep down he wishes to go back to his country. The process has adversely affected his progress in life. He has no career and no development contrary to his brother who has established a presence in the foreign nation. Alexander has managed to settle in the country and had a job.
From the linguistic perspective, the Cape Breton Islanders are connected to Scotland through their Gaelic language. According to the story, the writing is meant to create a sense of kinship and to strengthen communal and cultural bonds in the region. This shows that the immigrants were culturally accepted in the area because they spoke the same language and this led to their bonding in the country. Therefore, if they are removed from the field, this will lead to cultural isolation because they had developed a cultural bond in the island through the language they spoke. Removal from the area will lead to a communication barrier between them and other people in the areas where they are forced to settle (Gittings 1). This will prompt them to learn new languages which becomes hectic to understand especially in old age. However, the Gaelic language is also seen in the book as a hindrance to the development of the local people. The language is considered to be a burden because it only subjects them to the rural life offered in the region. This concern is expressed in the sense of sadness portrayed from some 20th-century characters that cannot solely speak Gaelic due to the increasing English-centric society. The Gaelic language has made it difficult for the Islanders to do business or even to communicate with the outside world. According to the book, the world is dynamic and experiencing transformation from time to time. Although the characters suffer cultural isolation due to their removal from the Cape Breton, it provides them an opportunity to connect with the outside world and to learn from other people. The process gives them a chance to learn various languages that will enable them to transact and to connect with other countries and people (Szamosi 43). Therefore, the removal from Cape Breton is not solely detrimental, and it supports their growth in the society.
The cultural isolation that the characters experienced from their removal from the Cape Breton enhanced their family ties. This may be embodied by Robert the Bruce's quote "My hope is constant in thee, Clan Donald" (MacLeod 88) which illustrates how the cohesiveness of the family remained robust despite its tribulations. The process led to the characters having closer relations with their families. The process leads to a shared sense of belonging and unity. The immigrants capitalize on their togetherness and unity to conquer such troubles. When the characters were exiled from Scotland, they settled in Cape Breton and continued to use their native language and followed most of their traditions. The island was considered to be an area for the Scotland people. This enhanced their cultural growth in the region and enabled them to conquer most of the problems together.
Furthermore, the removal from the Cape Breton further does not lead to cultural isolation because it strengthens their ties with their family members and people from their country (Hill 70). This process leads to the growth of the native culture across the world. The spread of the literature points to the recognition of the group and their understanding. Therefore, when Catherine, Calum, and Alexander are exiled from the island, they are not culturally isolated, but the process enables them to maintain their strong ties with their family members and leads to the spread of their cultural practices across the globe. This is illustrated in numerous occurrences where the community continues to use their Gaelic language for communication purposes (Szamosi 45). This shows that they are still attracted to their culture despite the numerous challenges that they experience from the removal from Cape Breton.
According to the book, Cape Breton is portrayed as an area that provides the inhabitants with a strong sense of cultural belonging and identity. Therefore, the island is a convenient place for the immigrants because they can quickly settle because they have numerous people whom they relate within the region (Gittings 1). Therefore, the removal from the area leads to cultural isolation because the people are disintegrated from their natural surrounding and the individuals whom they relate with. However, the major disadvantage of the city is that it offers limited scope for educational and occupational development.
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