The Diviners by Margaret Laurence

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Morag sees a range of choices for women living in the 20th century through the female characters she meets. Choose one or two of the following characters (Mrs. Crawley, Ella Gerson, Mrs. Gerson, Julie Kazlik, Fan Brady) and describe what Morag gets from their relationship. Are there things that she both takes and leaves from her association with them? In The Diviners, by Margaret Laurence, Morag Gunn’s association with Ella Gerson provides her with opportunities to examine aspects of life that she might not have been exposed to otherwise.

Ella comes into Morag’s life during a period of significant change and adjustment, and at a time when she needs support and friendship. Ella, like Morag, is a writer, and they first meet at University. Morag is, at the time, struggling with her insecurity as a writer and with who she is as a person. Ella is able to offer Morag emotional support and understanding that has been lacking for as long as Morag can remember, and for the first time “Morag tells – can she? he does” (196) someone about her writing, her past, and her hopes for the future. Via her friendship with Ella, Morag is exposed to the Gerson family, and to the first loving and warm family experience she has had since her parents died. Morag realizes “that she never knew until now that she has missed her mother as much as her father, for most of her life” (202).

Within this relationship, Morag finds unconditional acceptance and camaraderie between family members that she did not know could exist. As the relationship between Morag and Ella matures, they support one another emotionally and provide each other with opportunities to discuss things openly, without judgement. They each marry, have children, and struggle to become published writers, all the while seeking one another out for the reassurance, understanding and encouragement they know is forthcoming.

Ella Gerson’s character provides Morag with an emotional anchor at the point in her life when she is just beginning to explore her world and her own personality. The validity of her abilities as a writer and her hopes for the future are affirmed through Ella, and she is accepted without prejudice. Having felt alone and unappreciated for most of her life, Morag begins to understand, through Ella, that a positive emotional connection with people is possible.

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