In the novel, Wild Geese, by Martha Ostenso, the members of the Gare household struggle immensely under the oppressiveness of Caleb Gare, the father and Amelia Gare, the mother. The children of the Gare family face many obstacles, such as lack of voice, lack of control, and limited possibilities. Although Ostenso's Wild Geese is an award winning piece of literature, much of the novels significance and power has been lost over time. The control Caleb and Amelia have over their children is vividly realistic but is portrayed in completely different ways; Caleb through his greed and need for control and Amelia's desire to conceal her past.
During the 1920's, the time which the novel was written, children had very few rights. A child was seen as property of the family. Children were to be seen but not heard and were to always be obedient. This is definitely the case in the Gare household. This lack of children's rights is further compounded by the isolation of the Gare's farming community in rural Manitoba. Policing would not have been prevalent in the immediate area, especially when it came to household affairs. Although this sort of treatment still exists in some homes, in general, our sense of what a family's responsibility is to a child and what the child's responsibility is to the family has evolved over time.
Wild Geese is viewed as both scandalous and revolutionary. Written during a time when children's rights were not yet defined, the novel challenges these views. Ostenso brilliantly portrays this evolution of the times with the character Lind Archer and her relationships with the Gare's and Mark Jordan. Lind is a school teacher sent to teach in rural Manitoba. The Gare family, with whom Lind boards, is ruled and manipulated by the cruel Caleb and Amelia Gare. Caleb Gare delights in crushing the spirits of his four children and tormenting his wife.
And then, strangely enough, she would wipe her eyes and ...