Over the past week, I’ve been reading Canadian author Heather O’Neill’s novel, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. The story incorporates elements of the dysfunctional family, fame, failure, and love seamlessly. But specific characters working through these certain topics can’t help but ring a bell in my mind. Resulting from examining types literary theory, I began to identify some archetypes within the novel.
First of all, O’Neill presents many archetypical characters that are familiar to ones seen in other stories. The twins, Nouschka and Nicholas, represent “the fallen stars” who were once famous and widely adored as children. As the son and daughter of a Quebec sensation they “were supposed to be geniuses who never did anything ordinary (O’Neill, 41),” but they are now are young adults who are trying to navigate the world just like everyone else. Their love-hate relationship and co-dependancy may be considered toxic, but it’s the moments that they look out for each other that is truly noteworthy. They remind me of David and Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek because they are also brother and sister, have the same kind of relationship, were child stars, have distant parents, and are going through a rough patch in their lives.
Étienne, their father and “a famous (and famously dissolute) drunken mess of a superstar folk singer (Oriana, Goodreads),” can be seen as filling two different roles: “the player,” because of his risqué pastimes, and “the deadbeat dad” because he seems to believe that performing and keeping up his social life is more important than raising his two children. He bears a resemblance to John Winchester from Supernatural as he is a father of two but is never around for his kids’ adult life because he favours his career. In relation to the effect of these neglectful parents, both sets of children were depended on to raise themselves after a certain age and to support their fathers, despite who they are, unconditionally. I think that Nicholas is afraid of becoming his father because “he owed Saskia three thousand dollars in child support. This was an impossible amount of money. (202)” This is intimidating because she is the young mother of his child, which is similar to his dad’s situation with Nicholas’ mother. Furthermore, Loulou, Étienne’s father and the siblings’ grandfather, is portrayed as “the eccentric old man” who serves as the comic relief – as well as both the caretaker (and the taken-care-of) to his grandchildren. He is reminiscent of Pierce from Community due to his love of swearing and obscenities in addition to his dependancy on others, despite being the “elder” of his group.
Similarly, this story also brings about many archetypical themes. The protagonist, Nouschka, finds herself on the journey to finding what she wants out of life and, more specifically, love. Does this seem familiar? According to a list created by Rachel Mork, this particular theme is one of the most used one in the scope in all fiction. I know this to be true because I have encountered it several times. A good example of this is Before I Fall because the young female protagonist is trying to find out the right thing to do, who to love, and what is most important in life as she muddles through her late teens. She makes many mistakes and feels guilty about them, like Nouschka, too.
Based on the journey archetype taken by the main character in this book, I predict that Nouschka will break up with Raphaël and she will finally see that he is not who she needs to be happy. Regarding her and Raphaël, “there is a feeling when we were together, that we were little kids dressing up as adults. (189)” Often when an unsure relationship is developed so early in a plot, it is deconstructed just as fast. In place of him, I believe she will return to her brother’s support and find another boyfriend. In addition, I have an eerie feeling that Loulou will pass away during the course of this story because of his ailments and it would be a literary mechanism to bring the twins closer together. Although, I secretly hope this doesn’t happen because the old man has grown on me.
But regardless of what The Girl Who Was Saturday Night brings, I look forward to being privy to the lives of the Tremblays and the chaos that ensues around them.
To see a review of this book and learn more about Heather O’Neill, check out this article by The Globe and Mail by clicking here.
O’Neill, Heather. The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. London: Quercus, 2015. Print.
Bride, Lauren, and Heather O’Neill. “Author Heather O’Neill Emerges from The Girl Who Was Saturday Night a Fully Formed Artist.” The Globe and Mail. HarperCollins, 21 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 July 2017.
O’Neill, Heather (Goodreads, and Oriana. “Oriana (Brooklyn, NY)’s Review of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night.” Goodreads. N.p., 11 May 2014. Web. 13 July 2017.
Mork, Rachel. “The 12 Most Common Themes in Literature.” Life 123 (n.d.): n. pag. Print.