Before Reading This Section:
- The title of this section sounds oddly optimistic, considering how we know Chanie’s story ends. What place is being referred to?
Chanie see the bright happiness of the past. Ah, the colours make sense now. The are warmth for Chanie.
After Reading This Section:
- Lemire uses a lot of panels within panels in this section. Why? What does it do?
He is showing that Chanie will to survive and not give up. The foot steps, the continued path for freedom.
The title does sound optimistic - but at the same time, there is a common sense to it: where else can you be but here, on Earth? In a grand sense, THIS IS the only place to be. I feel like there is a connection to the world here that goes beyond the specific "this" as a place - it's not about being on train tracks somewhere in Northern Ontario, it's about the world being this place, this place we all share - which really IS the only place to be.
The words of the poem here are also feel more peaceful and, though we wouldn't call the feeling happy, I do feel like this poem gives us an "at ease" emotion. To be honest, this is the only section where I feel a very slight disconnect between the words in the text and the illustrations (I do suppose I could be missing something). There's an inevitability here; Chanie's feet show us the physical weakening that slowly takes over and stops him. I feel like the focus on his feet (boots) shows us the trudging steps of a boy who has really started to accept his fate, with feet that slowly seem to turn more inward each step, closer to failing and falling with each panel.
The panels within panels change our focus so that the story teller (Lemire in this case through the visuals) can really "tell us" what to pay attention to. The boots were in panels within panels, as I mention above, that serve to remind us of the physical reality of Chanie taking step after step and the eventual ending of the steps. The page where Chanie is on his knees for the first time seems to have panels that could be like the old "life flashing before your eyes before you die" idea; it's almost like a mental photo album or slide deck of memories and incidents that we've seen throughout the text. These are all negative images and memories with the exception of the ambiguous raven - perhaps this could also been seen as a release, Chanie is letting go of all of these negative memories and all of the trauma before he returns to being a part of this place, the only place to be. The final panels within panels focus our attention on Chanie, on his kness, looking upwards - we ask, what might he be looking at? Maybe he's looking upward to what's beyond. Maybe he sees the raven coming for him as he's been promised. After looking up, Chanie seems to look downward, resigned to his fate before he finally lies down, sadly we're almost certain it's for a slumber he won't physically awake from.
This section is a tough one to wrap my head around. I am wondering about the earthlike world and the sunlike star.....they seem 'otherworldly'. The panels show Chanie's last few steps...our attention is drawn to the images within the panels...he seems haunted by the memories of the school, but is he moving back and forth between life and death? Perhaps he has resigned himself to his death and looks forward to what comes next.