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Volume 34, Number 2 (2009)

Volkswagen Blues Twenty-Five Years Later: Revisiting Poulin’s Pitsémine

February 23, 2010


Jacques Poulin’s popular and award-winning novel Volkswagen Blues celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2009, and it holds a prominent position in Québécois and Canadian literary histories. The novel attempts to break down the master narrative of a superior “pure laine” culture through the quests of its two main characters – a writer’s-blocked Québécois, Jack, and Pitsémine, who hopes to reconcile the two halves of her mixed identity (Québécoise and Innu). In order to promote a move towards a more tolerant and diverse society, Poulin embraces the hybrid as an alternative. Poulin’s use of the mixed-blood or Metis identity as a vehicle to promote hybridity, while it appears to promote inclusion, arguably leads to erasure of Indigenous cultures and nations. By portraying Native culture as dying or dead and presenting hybrid culture as the only viable solution for Quebec, Poulin threatens to eliminate the Native, replacing it instead with a new, generic hybrid.