Blog prompts for Late Nights on Air

This blog assignment has two parts:

1) Come up with your own blog prompt for Elizabeth Hay’s novel Late Nights on Air.  Post your prompt here.

2) Choose one of your classmate’s blog prompts and then post your response to this question, using examples from the text to support your argument.

This entry was posted in discussions, news. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Blog prompts for Late Nights on Air

  1. Megan N. says:

    In Response to Camille’s Prompt: In Late Nights on Air all of the characters share some connection with the radio station and the radio in general. Explain the significance of the radio station in relation to one character and discuss how this job has come to affect them throughout the text.

    Throughout Late Nights on Air all of the characters share some sort of connection with the radio station and the radio in general. In particular the radio station is significant with the character Gwen. Gwen’s connection to the radio is a little bit different than the other character’s connection to the radio. Unlike some of the other characters in the book Gwen is not the best speaker on the air. She is very insecure. With advice from some of the other characters, Gwen begins to find her voice. She begins to find her voice when no one is listening at the station late at night. In the book it says:
    “With time she’d grown more accustomed to the bracing experience of the microphone. It no longer felt like plunging into cold water –in and out—before toweling herself off. She could stay in much longer. A burka for the shy, the nighttime announce booth. A dark tent that covered her up as she crossed the wide desert of late-night radio” (p. 82).
    This shows Gwen beginning to feel more comfortable with herself while she is on the radio. It is the point in the novel where the reader sees Gwen breaking from her insecure shell.

  2. Hannah B. says:

    1) My post: Late Nights on Air is a fictional story with fictional characters yet Hay adds in Judge Thomas Berger. Her fictional characters continuously interact with this real life person. Berger is an important character to the novel. Explore the advantages and disadvantages of using a real person in a fictional novel and the reason why Hay would decide to use a Berger.

    2) In response to Juliana’s post: Instead of fulfilling expectations and succeeding, Hay has Dido fade away. What role does Dido’s character play in the novel and for the other characters? Why does Hay have Dido essentially disappear and what purpose do her reappearances serve?

    The role that Dido plays in the novel can be seen very well through her interactions with Harry. Dido is a young beautiful woman with many possibilities for her future. Even more, she knows that she is young and beautiful, and although she may not have set out to lead Harry on it is exactly what she does. Harry immediately falls for her, he falls in love with her just hearing her voice for the first time. She was not in the relationship with any expectations unlike Harry who seems to cling to Dido almost in desperation, especially when he feels Dido slipping away. Dido presents an ideal of some sort. She swoops into Yellowknife with a confidence and security that is beyond her years. Those around her fall in love with her or envy her. Dido also plays a role as the creator of conflict – most of the conflict in the novel relates to her. For example she breaks Harry’s heart after leading him on, Gwen also becomes very jealous, and her father-in-law in particular is practically haunted by her memory. I believe that Hay uses Dido as a measure against which the other characters measure themselves. The continues to disappear and reappear in their lives as continual tests of the characters. Dido’s confidence and self-assuredness is something that the other characters envy.

  3. Cassie says:

    What’s up with Gwen’s obsession with noise and how does her constant recording and playback work into the novel as a theme?

  4. Cassie says:

    RE: Matthew P

    My blog prompt is if you were in the same position as Gwen-a CBC radio journalist, if you had to play a music playlist over the yellowknife radio waves, what music would you choose that goes along with themes, actions, plot etc? And Why?

    I think that Gwen is a character who gets to experience a lot of turbulence without direct participation. She is seen as initially timid on air, but with a fierce and intrepid nature. This seeming clash of personality attributes places her in a lot of interesting situations. During the first few weeks of her position, she would likely play crowd pleasers. My picks would be “You Make My Dreams”, by Hall & Oats, “Sweet Caroline”, general rock and roll, and of course, “Don’t Stop Believing”. I think she would be hesitant to play anything too ambitious, searching for the validation of approval.

    Once moved into the late night spot, she would be freer to play things that were edgier, less typical. Throwing a little Franz Ferdinand into her Hendrix and some Charles Trenet and Edith Piaf into her Bach. and Mozart. As things get more tense with Dido, she’s likely to get a little moodier, maybe “Here Comes the Anxiety” by the Wombats, or “Black Cadillacs” by Modest Mouse. Then, once back in the day slots, tending again to the more mainstream rock/ pop choices, like Sara Bareilles or even the latest Kate Nash.

  5. Matt Graham says:

    In response to this blog prompt from Camille;

    1) In Late Nights on Air all of the characters share some connection with the radio station and the radio in general. Explain the significance of the radio station in relation to one character and discuss how this job has come to affect them throughout the text.

    The radio station plays a large part in the story as well as affecting the characters in Late Nights On Air. In my opinion Gwen is one of the most affected by working in the radio station. When she starts she is unsure of herself, has no fashion sense and no real sense of herself. In addition she is awkward on the air and not particularly good at her job at the radio station, but through time and experience she slowly comes into her own and the station and the people she works with help shape her into the person she becomes. At the end of the book she has developed into a strong assertive professional and eventually finds her calling in volunteering at hospice and listening to people with real problems. In following with a theme in the book she went up North to find something and with the help of the station and her co-workers she did.

  6. Nikki says:

    In Response to Laurel’s Prompt:
    Gwen’s character feels very insecure and is quiet. She is full of self-doubt. When she tells Harry about the incident in her past with the farmer, she assumed that Harry thought the she was asking for trouble, and put her self in harm’s way. At the beginning of the story Gwen is incapable of having a strong and confident voice. This shows when she talks on radio.
    Voices are an extremely personal thing. Elizabeth Hay uses them as a vehicle to reveal aspects of the characters that can’t be described in words. The aspect of voice in this novel very interesting. The idea that you can sound so different than you actually look is something that the novel sheds light on. It is very interesting to think about. I know that when i hear myself on camera, I am amazed at what i sound like. You sound completely different to others than you do to yourselves.

    My Question: Explain the importance of the Pipeline argument and its importance in the novel.

  7. Timmy T says:

    The role of the city Yellowknife plays a major factor in the development of the main characters in ‘Late Nights On Air’. For starters it was the original refuge for Harry to begin a new life in radio after he failed in television with his time in Toronto. Rather than making it big in a large city he decided to take a chance at a smaller industry and city in Yellowknife. Yellowknife was also a significant destination for Harry because this is where he begins his complex relationship with Dido, who he falls in love with. Yellowknife is originally depicted as a peaceful place for Harry to escape from his failure in the city. The text has tranquil imagery which is evident of this. “It would be one of those rare summers when the light is crystalline, the sky deep blue, the air continuously warm. Yellowknife was like a summer residence, a northern resort. It was Summer itself. Children were in the playgrounds all night long” (35). The landscape of Yellowknife can be considered symbolic of the characters relationships. The Northwest of Canada is a vastly open and cold space that can be considered very lonely. Many of these characters, such as Harry and Dido, can be considered lonely or isolated because they cant seem to make a lasting connection with each other. The landscape of Yellowknife can also symbolize Harry’s vulnerability regarding his job. Yellowknife is being bombarded with different forms of technology, such as the pipeline and television, leaving the natural landscape very vulnerable. Yellowknife plays a crucial role in the development of the plot.

  8. Alex says:

    Camille’s Prompt: In Late Nights on Air all of the characters share some connection with the radio station and the radio in general. Explain the significance of the radio station in relation to one character and discuss how this job has come to affect them throughout the text.

    Response:
    Gwen’s character appears to have a different connection with the radio than the other characters in Late Nights On Air. Unlike Dido, for example, Gwen is evidently not a great speaker on air. Harry suggests that she needs to relax more in order to sound natural. She is clearly self-conscious and unsure of her own voice. This seems particularly ironic considering her career choice. As we get further into the text, Gwen is moved to the night shift. Being in the dark and in solitude allows her to feel more comfortable on air. It seems that when no one is watching, her skills start to develop and improve. Gwen almost becomes a different person: “She gave herself a new name. Stella Round. And used it on air… With time she’d grown more accustomed to the bracing experience of the microphone. It no longer felt like the plunging into cold water- in and out- before toweling herself off. She could stay in much longer” (p 82). This is when she seems to finally become comfortable with her voice.

    Her confidence on the radio affects her personality among her coworkers. Dido, in particular, seems to notice the change in Gwen. In the beginning of the novel we get the feeling that she is intimidated by Dido and uncomfortable speaking against her. There is an obvious jealousy, which changes as Gwen becomes more skilled on air. Dido points out this change: “I used to go home at night and slam the table and yell your name, I’d be so mad at you…for some slight during the day. I’d say something and you’d answer something back as if to say I was stupid” (p 183). It is clear in the change in relationship between Dido and Gwen that she is not as shy as she once was; Gwen is willing to have an opinion. This is a result of the confidence that speaking on air gave her.

  9. Timmy T says:

    Relationships in general play a crucial part in the development of the characters throughout “Late Nights On Air”. Discuss Harry and Dido’s relationship and the role that it plays with the development of their characters and the plot. Choose one scene to illustrate your analysis.

  10. Andrew L. says:

    Oops!!

    my response was actually to Aaron’s prompt, not Veronica’s.

  11. Andrew L. says:

    1.) The middle of the 20th century saw a dramatic transition in the way information was transmitted, as modernized nations gradually stepped away from radio and welcomed the era of television. Late Nights On Air takes a long look at the lives of some of the people most affected by this change, and the reader gets a chance to see how some people (Harry being a paradigm case) reacted to such momentous change. With respect to the characters in the book, as opposed to society as a whole, why is there such reluctance to make the transition with the rest of the developing world? Is there something specific to living in Yellowknife and/or the Northern Territories that causes the character(s) to react in this way?

    2.) RESPONSE TO VERONICA’s PROMPT:

    The idea that television will spell the end for this “final frontier” seems completely logical in several ways. The mysticism associated with Yellowknife and the Northern Territories is undoubtedly of the adventurous kind, and I believe that the type of people that are attracted to such a place have that in mind when they move there. It seems that several (if not all) of the characters in Late Nights On Air ventured to Yellowknife in an attempt to escape their former lives (or selves), and all sought to add a hint of romantic adventure to their new life. If we are given this perspective for these modern characters, it seems logical to imagine that history drew the same type of people northward. I can’t pinpoint exactly why, but it seems even more logical to envision this type of person as the type that would fear and reject significant social change, especially when it reaches the northernmost tip of civilization in Yellowknife. Harry’s fears of losing the last vestiges of this final frontier are understandable in that change expectedly reaches the Northern Territories at a slower rate than the rest of the world. Surely this delay of change (as opposed to the rest of Western civilization) was similar when the transition was made to radio, and so it can easily be compared with those times. It seems, however, that the true loss of the final frontier was lost in that transition, as the notion of a “final frontier” is one that, in my opinion, does not include places that have access to radio (or TV for that matter). In my mind, the “final frontier” has an untouched, inaccessible quality to it that seeks to bar change and exclude social and cultural transitions. For this reason, it almost seems ridiculous to consider Yellowknife as such a “final frontier,” when really it is nothing more than a very northern town.

  12. Camille says:

    1) In Late Nights on Air all of the characters share some connection with the radio station and the radio in general. Explain the significance of the radio station in relation to one character and discuss how this job has come to affect them throughout the text.

    2) Instead of fulfilling expectations and succeeding, Hay has Dido fade away. What role does Dido’s character play in the novel and for the other characters? Why does Hay have Dido essentially disappear and what purpose do her reappearances serve?
    In my opinion, Dido represents an almost low key antagonist in Late Nights on Air. As a character, she is highly influential on many of the people surrounding her, and yet the majority of the feelings that she evokes in her peers is negative. Examples of this are seen in her interactions with Harry and Gwen.For example, while I cannot say that Dido did anything to make Harry fall in love with her, she did choose to be with him and then selfishly steal away his feeling of contentment. She knew that she was playing with his emotions when she was playing him and Eddy off each other. Harry was even aware of the hold that Dido had over him and the risk that he was taking by being with her: “Harry felt her lying there, slipping out of his hands. “Don’t leave me,” He begged, and she was touched and repelled.” (206).With Gwen, she doesn’t bring emotional distress like she does to Harry, but she makes her feel uncomfortable and insecure about herself. By having Dido disappear and reenter the novel several times, I think that her influential personality is magnified and even more powerful. This is due to the fact that the other characters never have a chance to get used to her presence (or lack of), because she is always on the go. When they least expect it, she either decides to rekindle contact or leave again.

  13. Laurel G says:

    Instead of fulfilling expectations and succeeding, Hay has Dido fade away. What role does Dido’s character play in the novel and for the other characters? Why does Hay have Dido essentially disappear and what purpose do her reappearances serve?

    Response: Dido is an extremely multifaceted character. Not only does she exert an aura of confidence and complexity, Hay has her fade in and out of the story, keeping the readers and the other characters constantly in limbo about her role in their lives and the mysteriousness of her own life. In being so confident and so elusive, Dido’s character acts as a kind of mirror for the other characters (and in a sense, the readers). When presented with an embodiment of assurance and intricacy, those exposed to Dido must make a choice; they must choose to either embrace the facets of themselves and their own lives that may feel threatened or exposed by her, or allow her innate personal security to make them feel inferior. What the characters have to realize is that Dido, just like all of them, has times of uncertainty. I believe that Hay continues to have her reappear throughout the novel as a test to the other characters; they must learn to not waiver in their choices and their securities as people despite the potential intimidation that follows Dido’s character.

    My Question: The theme of voices recurs incredibly throughout the novel. Not only the physical characteristics of the voices, but what they mean and how they are significant to each character as well. Discuss how a particular voice affects one of the characters in the novel, and in doing so, talk about whether past life experiences could potentially influence the effect that a particular voice (physical or symbolic, your choice) has on the character.

  14. Nigel says:

    Blog Response to Shane W.’s question:
    Harry Boyd argues in the book that television, if introduced to the North, will ruin radio and make it extinct. I disagree with this notion that television will destroy radio, I think that although it will prove to be a strong competitor to radio, it will not wipe it out. I think Harry is more concerned about having to deal with failure again. The reason he is in the North working for CBC radio in Yellowknife is because he apparently failed in television in Toronto. Radio as a medium would probably not die out in the North, because although television has visual appeal, radios are still much more mobile and can be taken anywhere, whereas a television stays in one place. In the North where people are surrounded by wilderness, and where people may be out in obscure places and travel long distances to get somewhere, the portable radio still has an important role. Harry is successful in his current position radio broadcaster , and this position defines him in the small Northern community that is Yellowknife. For television to come up to where he fled to get away from television, he would be faced with the failure of his past. The fact that he is no longer a young man anymore, “Now he was an old fish in a small pond”(5), but in early middle age, makes it the prospect of television all the more threatening. Yellowknife has been has worked out for Harry, as Hay comments “And yet it suited him, the place, the hours, the relative obscurity”(5). Regardless of whether TV is not such a big threat to radio as one would think, the prospect of the medium which ruined Harry is just too much for him.

  15. Megan D. says:

    Blog Prompt: Describe the role of the city of Yellowknife and its effect on one of the characters.
    Response to Megan N.’s blog prompt: How does the setting in Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay effect the expansion of technology? Discuss with specific details from the novel.
    Technology is important in the city of Yellowknife because it is a way for the remote town to keep in touch with the outside world. Radio was one of the only ways they could learn about what was going on in the world because the sound waves were able to travel faster than the mail and so the news would be able to reach them while it was still current. Technology was also one of the only ways that the Canadian public was able to learn about the north and for all of Yellowknife to be seen and have their opinions of the pipeline heard and understood by all. An example of this is the coverage that is given to the Berger inquiry by the radio and TV. Harry stands up and gives his opinion, being a televised and radio broadcasted event, he was looked unfavorably upon by those in the media. “It became known as the Harry Boyd incident, and it caused him more grief with his own newsroom than with his head office” (181). Everyone found out about the incident not only because of the small town atmosphere that is portrayed in the meetings, but also because of the fact that it was broadcasted. This allowed it to be seen and heard by all, thereby making Harry into an example. He is supposed to demonstrate the principle of objectivity being a manager of a public radio station, which he did not do. He is supposed to remain objective so that when he is broadcasted for everyone to hear, they have an unbiased opinion of the news since that is the only way they will be able to hear about it.

  16. Nigel says:

    Late Nights on Air is set Canada’s Northwest Territories, a place where many non native Canadians and foreigners have decided to come as result of looking for a new life. Do the characters in the book find that the North lives up to their expectations in terms of helping them find themselves, or does it simply point them somewhere else without answers? Use two to three examples from the text to prove your point.

  17. Fiona says:

    Hay uses lots of “one liners” at the ends of sections and chapters. What effect do these have on the story? Find at least two that either detract from or add to the progression of the story, and explain the effect.

    In class we discussed the way that Hay uses foreshadowing techniques throughout the novel. Many of her “one liners,” which conclude chapters or sections, serve as a method of foreshadowing. In many of these concluding statements, Hay provides a glimpse into what will come for these characters. This allows the reader to become aware of events and insights that the characters themselves have yet to discover.

    One example of this is on page 192, mid-chapter, at the end of a section. Harry considers how he will celebrate the New Year, and his new life with Dido. The section ends with, “But there would be no roast caribou, no champagne.” Hay deliberately informs the reader that things will not work out between Harry and Dido. Another instance in which a “one liner” ends a section, serving as a means of foreshadowing, is on page 155. Dido gives Gwen a kiss on her birthday and Hay describes it, “Dido’s lips felt thin and oversoft, innocent yet all wrong. Harmless, but not harmless at all.” While Hay describes Dido’s lips, she is really describing Dido’s character and her role in the novel. By describing Dido’s lips as “harmless, but not harmless at all,” Hay demonstrates how Dido, who at this point in the novel seems so captivating, innocent, and admirable, will actually proceed to leave a lasting impact on them, harming characters unintentionally, especially Harry.

    In some cases, foreshadowing such as this can detract from the novel by spoiling aspects of suspense and surprise for the readers. However, I feel that the way Hay implements foreshadowing in Late Nights on Air, especially in the short final sentences in chapters or sections, allows the readers to more strongly sympathize with the characters in the novel, particularly with Harry. Also, Hay provides foreshadowing, such as this, that informs the readers of what will happen in the novel, but she doesn’t as blatantly allude to how the novel will ultimately end, leaving some elements of surprise still present. By doing this she allows the readers to sympathize and understand the characters, without ruining the progression of the novel.

  18. David says:

    What is the significance of Harry Boyd lighting the script on fire while on air? What does the fire symbolize? How is it representative of Harry’s character and other themes in the novel?

  19. Peter C says:

    1.) How has Gwen’s adaptation to Yellowknife changed her relationship with each character in the novel. Be sure to include her progress on the radio and keep in mind the season change from summer to winter.

    2.) Response to Evan’s Post: Hay’s novel has a strong focus on character opportunity, and the things that trigger these specific instances. Cite a few examples from one character that shows where an opportunity arises that has a great affect on the character throughout novels entirety.

    Gwen seems like the character that changes the most throughout the novel. Many of the characters are used to their surroundings and are much older than Gwen so they do not go through the changes that Gwen does. Seeing she’s a 25 year-old female and travelled from over 2000 miles away she has more of a chance to develop “character opportunity”. When Gwen first starts at the radio station she is extremely timid and her lack of confidence leads others to believe she might not be cut out for the job. As time goes by throughout the novel, Gwen seems to have these intelligent conversations with most of the characters in the book. I think most people like her and when she realizes this, she allows these people to help her not just be a better person, but to be able to speak better on the radio.

    Everyone first notices her confidence on page 101, “Everyone noticed the change in Gwen. The girl had laced up the soft shoe of her voice. Now she spoke rather more confidently and not so close to the microphone. Her voice didn’t make the same sad dive at the end of every sentence”. Gwen’s conversations with other characters have brought her to this point of confidence and sense of finally belonging to Yellowknife. She sees everybody noticing her progression and she finally has a reason to be proud of herself and keep her head up.

    Gwen’s growing relationship with Eleanor, Dido’s best friend, explains Gwen’s strong yearn for success and want for change. She wants to be Dido on the radio. She’s constantly talking of her jealousy for Dido and how her voice is so wonderful and soft. It seems very important to Gwen she gets the approval from the other characters. When she first gets her hair cut by Lorna, this is an example that describes her freedom and her awareness that she’s free and can do what she wants. Remaining confident is Gwen’s biggest role throughout the novel; the more she sees positivity the better she does on the radio, which is her ultimate goal. When she first pulls up to the station with this new haircut she notices Dido’s first reaction; “but Dido looked up and let out a whistle”. This is an example of what Gwen needs in order to stay on this “high” that goes up and down throughout the book.

  20. Matthew P says:

    1) My blog prompt is if you were in the same position as Gwen-a CBC radio journalist, if you had to play a music playlist over the yellowknife radio waves, what music would you choose that goes along with themes, actions, plot etc? And Why?
    2) Response to Veronica’s question

    The setting going from enclosed to open, from limited to limitless in my opinion serves as an overall message of the story. When Gwen Harry Ralph and Eleanor go on their journey it shows that the world is never as small as it seems. It shows that there is so much to explore in life, and at the same time proves that doing is better than wondering.

  21. Evan says:

    Q: Hay’s novel has a strong focus on character opportunity, and the things that trigger these specific instances. Cite a few examples from one character that shows where an opportunity arises that has a great affect on the character throughout novels entirety.

  22. Alex says:

    Blog Prompt: Late Nights On Air is deeply rooted in the stories and personalities of the characters themselves, which seem to change as the novel progresses. Choose two characters and illustrate with examples from the text, how their relationship changes or influences each other.

  23. Molly says:

    Response to Juliana’s post: Instead of fulfilling expectations and succeeding, Hay has Dido fade away. What role does Dido’s character play in the novel and for the other characters? Why does Hay have Dido essentially disappear and what purpose do her reappearances serve?

    We all know that every good plot needs to have a dramatic conflict at the center of it. The conflict may or may not get entirely resolved by the end of the book. If a character can be said to embody a conflict, Dido’s character seems to do just that in “Late Night on Air.” She is dazzling and compelling in the way that she sweeps into Yellowknife, first with her voice and then her whole self—she transfixes both men and women with her confident bearing and her beauty. “People were drawn to the North and in the North they were drawn to Dido, so it seemed, and Dido managed herself very well” (34). She seems at ease in her skin, and moves through social and romantic situations with an adeptness that is not common in Yellowknife. Yet, she also has a holier-than-thou attitude and there is a sense that she’s only half present in the place where she is. From the beginning of the book it is clear that Dido plans to “stay [in Yellowknife] one more year…and then go somewhere entirely different” (45).
    For the people around her in the community of Yellowknife, Dido personifies their desires and emphasizes their shortcomings. She is bolder, keener, more directed that your average Northerner, and she seems to float above everyone else and challenge their blandness. She creates conflicts in the minds of the characters—Gwen becomes jealous, Harry is eventually heartbroken, Eddy is protective, and her father-and-law is haunted by her memory. And through all of these interactions with so many complicated figures, Dido emanates a cool sense of control.
    It is striking then, but somehow fitting, that by the end of the novel Dido’s conflicts have turned inward. She has stayed in a relationship that is unhealthy, has severed ties with past parts of her life, has grown thin and sickly, and eventually winds up dead. After so many years of being in the eye of the storm, she becomes the storm.
    Of course a lot of questions remain about Dido at the end of the book, but this also feels right. She was always an enigmatic character, and maybe during her times of lightness and grace she also had a sense of the darkness and trouble that was in store for her. The fact that she always kept this to herself and maintained her façade of confident radiance was just another piece of the conflicted puzzle that was Dido.

  24. Molly says:

    Blog prompt:
    There are several references to the effects of alcohol on the people and culture of Yellowknife in “Late Nights on Air.” What role does alcohol play in the book, and specifically how does it contribute to the development (or regression) of Harry’s character?

  25. Fiona says:

    Blog Prompt: Each character appears to have a unique relationship with nature and with Yellowknife itself. Compare and contrast two characters and how they similarly, or differently, interact with their environment. Provide examples and describe how such ideas relate to the central themes of the novel.

  26. Shane W. says:

    In response to Nicolaus’s prompt we can see a distinction between those who are aboriginal and those who are foreign. It seems that the only people that are interested in travel are those who are not aboriginal. You can see this through the characters dreams and their opinions toward the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline. Characters like Harry dream of finding his place in the job world, and travels to places he probably doesn’t belong to pursue his goals. In the end Harry comes to the realization stated in the prompt, and it is funny to see him travel back to England (the place where all the settlers came from). The push against the pipeline shows us how the aboriginals are committed to the land and will not be forced to leave by people who should have no say in the matter. In this book you can see the clear distinction between the “outsiders” and “insiders,” especially in the groups differing perspectives on the matter of travel and migration.

  27. Shane W. says:

    Do you agree with Harry’s belief that television will destroy radio, or do you think that his fear is due to the fact that he has already failed once and will lose his place upon its arrival?

  28. Megan N. says:

    Blog Prompt:
    How does the setting in Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay effect the expansion of technology? Discuss with specific details from the novel.

  29. Jake A says:

    Discuss the importance of the pipeline. How does it relate to the characters? Moreover, what does it reveal about them?
    In response to Ian’s prompt: The pipeline debate creates a schism between opinions in this Northern Canadian town. What role does the character of the politician Berger play in “Late Nights on Air” and how does the debate he instigates affect the role of Canada as a whole in Hay’s novel?”
    Judge Berger ultimately decided if the Mackenzie Valley pipeline would be built. He conducted a large inquiry and debate in order to make his final decision of not building the pipeline. Judge Berger analyzed the environmental and societal impact of the pipeline. This was a very long and expensive process for Canada, costing 5.3 million dollars. This debate consisted of, “283 days of testimony, the inquiry had gathered 40,000 pages of transcripts presented by 1,700 witnesses” (Hay 334). The project has numerous negative implications on the environment. The pipeline was initially going to transport natural gas, but Berger argued that oil would surely follow. Oil spills are much more detrimental to the environment, “An oil spill, in turning the ice black, ruins its albedo or reflective capacity, causing it to absorb light rather than reflect it, and to melt, thereby changing the environment in unforeseeable ways” (Hay 161). Also the sheer construction of the pipeline alone would affect the animals that live in the surrounding ecosystems, “…the white wales of the Beaufort Sea were wary of man, yet increasingly exposed. To give birth they came into the warmer, shallow waters of Mackenzie Bay, now the site, and increasingly so, of offshore drilling for oil and gas” (Hay 160). This information regarding albedo, and white wales was exposed at the Berger Debate. Berger was also very concerned with the rights of the indigenous people who lived where the pipeline would be built. Regarding society, Berger argued that these people’s land rights were vastly important in the decision to build. The North of 60 Support Group formed by Dido and Eddy fought for native land claim rights in the debate. There was a rift in Canada between the whites and indigenous people due to the debate. Another group of whites would later officially register the North of 60 Support Group as their own, only to showcase their approval for the pipeline. Thus there was much hate between whites and natives due to the Berger Debate over the pipeline. Also violence would occur in Canadian society due to this pipeline, “Young native women will be enticed and sexually exploited by transient white labourers with lots of money and easy access to alcohol” (Hay 173). However in the end the pipeline was not built. Thus, the environment of Canada was preserved, and much hate between natives and whites was settled. The choice to not build the pipeline was for the greater good of Canada as a whole.

  30. Nicolaus Fox says:

    Prompt: Harry seems to learn from watching the Caribou that “migration wasn’t one unbroken forward movement,” and from this realization he proposes that “no one belonged to a place unless they were aboriginal. The rest of us were like the dust of the earth blown east, west, north, south” (Hay 306, 311). Discuss the theme of travel in the book, drawing possible connections between the role of movement through time and/or space, and its effects on any of the characters (including the First Nation peoples who are the only true aboriginals).

    In response to Amelia’s prompt: I agree that there are many instances in which the effects, or inherent principals of nature are used to enhance the reader’s understanding of situations or relationships in the novel. The passage involving weather that was especially moving to me occurs at the very end when Harry and Gwen are finally living together, and the sound of the unrelenting rainfall coincides with the news of Dido’s early death. This had such a strong impression on me because of the lack of direct correspondence between the symbol of the rain and the signified notion/principal. The connection seems more abstract then characters struggling against a strong head wind for example, and Hay says that all around was the “steady beat, the full gurgle of water flowing,” and “how the earth could hold an more water they didn’t know. (Hay 362, 364). Because all the characters have undergone so many difficulties (especially towards the end of the novel), and Ralph died from freezing in a large and very vast body of water, this notion of overwhelming amounts of water flowing into the ground (possibly like tears) seems very appropriate if nothing else. I also like the sense of protected vulnerability that the sound of the rain beating against the roof brings to them as they are lying in bed in a form of permanent shelter, which Harry finally realizes in what Hornby was looking for all along in decision to build a house to overwinter in, but which eventually lead to his death.

  31. Evan says:

    In response to Ian’s question:”The pipeline debate creates a schism between opinions in this Northern Canadian town. What role does the character of the politician Berger play in “Late Nights on Air” and how does the debate he instigates affect the role of Canada as a whole in Hay’s novel?”

    Berger feared that pipeline development would undermine local economies which relied on hunting, fishing, and trapping, possibly even increasing economic hardship in the area. Berger heard testimonies from diverse groups with an interest in the pipeline. 14 groups participated in the inquiry, attending all meetings and testifying before the commission. The inquiry was notable for the voice it gave to the aboriginal people whose territory would be destroyed by the pipeline. The issue of the Mackenzie pipeline affects Canada because the whites in the northern areas become the minority when debating the issue while the natives out number the whites. Harry gets in trouble with the station for taking sides on the issue, also with the government trying to rush the decision it creates a battle of rights on whether they actually have a say to exploit the land up north.

  32. Veronica says:

    Throughout Late Nights On Air, Harry constantly rails against the imminent arrival of television in Yellowknife, feeling that it will destroy the last vestiges of the Canadian frontier. Discuss the connection between the (often romanticized) Canadian far north as a mystical “final frontier” and the conflict Harry sees between radio and satellite television. When radio was first introduced to the far north, couldn’t’t the same argument (radio will spell the end for the frontier) be made for radio vs. horse or human-delivered mail?

    IN RESPONSE TO AARON:

    I believe that this novel does in fact romanticize the “final frontier”. As the season changes here in Vermont, I begin to grow wary of winter and the waning hours of sunlight we experience. To go further north would be extremely depressing. (This isn’t really the point).
    However, Harry does make valid arguments against the incoming television stations and additions to the radio station. More important than the institution of a radio station or television station to the town of Yellowknife in terms of preserving its culture and individuality is the globalization and homogenization that nationwide tv or radio can bring. The small radio station of Yellowknife, as Harry knows it, is a local station run by local people, broadcasting in local language. Television could be the same. However, the television Harry protests is not one run by and run for the people of Yellowknife, but one that would bring in the outside world and slowly drain the town of its individuality and substance. Yellowknife is unique in the sense that there is diversity and the cultural and linguistic “genocide” has not yet reached its northern location. In this sense, yes, Yellowknife, and the Canadian north, is a final frontier.

  33. Veronica says:

    blog prompt: “Late Nights on Air” has two distinguishable sections. First, the characters interact in the context of the radio station. When they Gwen, Harry, Ralph and Eleanor embark on their expedition, the setting of the story is transformed from inside to outside, and limited to limitless. How does this polarization effect the overall book? Do you see any parallels between the two halves? Are there any similarities or differences that make the contrast stark, or detract from the differences of setting?

  34. Latimer says:

    In response to Azure’s prompt, I don’t have a clear answer, and it’s sort of awkward to write about myself.

    On a long canoe trip, as on hiking trips, camping trips, road trips, airplane trips, I would be working as hard as I could all of the time to make sure that everything went smoothly, so in that respect I would be like Ralph. On another note, I would not go canoeing by myself far out into the lake, so I would probably not die.

    Mosquitoes have a unique attraction to me, so I would likely be eaten to pieces like Harry, but I would not be a sore, aching mess like him. Gwen is a princess – I like to think I am not. Eleanor seems to be something of a voice of reason, and I try to be one too.

    On another note, it is interesting to see the arrangement of paddlers. Ralph with Gwen, and Harry with Eleanor, so there is not one canoe really stronger than another intellectually or emotionally, and they are balanced by age, too. It’s not the two oldest and the two youngest; it’s not the men and the women. Harry and Gwen, while Harry finds himself attracted to Gwen, he “couldn’t recall ever dreaming about Dido…he found himself carrying the dream about Gwen through his arduous day,” would make a horrible team in canoes (250). Gwen has a somewhat clumsy, city-folk view of the trip – she is always recording things, bringing technology into the “last frontier.” Harry is impulsive, moody, and easily frustrated. They would not be able to balance out each other’s personalities.

    I would definitely be uptight, like Harry, but I would be collected and calm, like Ralph. I have to say I would be most like Ralph. “Ralph climbed a ridge with his binoculars and didn’t return for some time. When he came back, he was subdued and would only mutter, ‘A lot of ice’” (254). I would be the one to climb the hill to look ahead – I am always looking ahead.

  35. Emily says:

    In response to Juliana’s post:

    Dido’s presence in “Late Nights on Air” and her impact, is dependent on her leaving the story. She changes all of the characters, bringing out things in Eleanor and Harry that were buried, and serves as a catalyst for the decisions they all made. Dido is not the main character, but a small thread of what is holding everyone else together. She forces Harry to feel love again and slowly realize it is not the woman Dido, but this image of her that he loves and is able to direct his real feelings toward Gwen. Dido’s erratic decisions make it difficult to tell if she is a respectable character or not. She is the one who organizes Gwen’s surprise party, but not before she talks badly of Gwen to all of their co-workers. We know a substantial amount of facts about Dido’s life, but not a lot of justifications for her emotional responses to things, which leaves us unable to sympathize with her. Instead, her leaving becomes breathing room for the other characters. The passage where Harry meets Daniel shows exactly the impact Dido has. It is a strong one, but an incomplete one that leaves them feeling unresolved and eventually unresponsive toward her. “Daniel said, ‘What are you telling me?’ ‘I was hoping you’d tell me. You know more about her than I do.’
    ‘Maybe. Or maybe I don’t know as much about her as I thought.’” (333). Dido never was fully there when she was with Harry, Eddy, or anybody else. That distance made it so she gradually disappeared before she really left. When Harry sees her years later in NYC, “The sight of her did something to his heart. He felt its exact location and entire size inside his chest”(354), but it is not sadness or happiness he feels toward her. And she cannot be “bothered to explain” anything in full. The culmination of this coming as Harry and Gwen read of her death. No emotion. Just an oh! from Gwen. The obituary reading, “An erratic, emotional, beautiful woman who never quite found herself”(363). And Harry just opens a window to the birds. Dido was never able to figure herself out, but she (inadvertantly or not) helped the other characters to do so. And in that way she is crucial.

  36. Aaron says:

    In response to Emily’s post:

    I really was not sure what to make of Harry at all. We never find out that much about him, and he remains a very enigmatic character despite his interactions with Dido and Gwen. We never find out why, for instance, he moved to Yellowknife, of all places, to get away from Toronto. Overall, I found him to be a realistic character, neither completely “good” nor “bad”. He has his good moments (even if he is somewhat odd), such as sending the fur coat to Gwen. However, I was put-off by how, to use Dido’s words, “needy” he was. This is illustrated on page 137-139: “Save me from my insanity, he pleaded. “Are you all right?” he asked her. “I worry about you, I want you to know that”. “I almost killed myself twice…I want you to know that”. “….he heard his voice, the pleading, but couldn’t help himself. “Was it only me?”. I also felt that he could have stood up for Gwen, page 142, when he and the others were…”discussing” her. “She heard Henry clear his throat, then say, “Well, most of us don’t have your confidence and poise”. Ingratiating himself with Dido, not coming to her defence at all”. I don’t he grew much as a character, except that he (eventually) seems to have gotten over Dido. Still, while these aspects of his personality can make him at times, pitiable, they also make him a very human and realistic character.

  37. Aaron says:

    Throughout Late Nights On Air, Harry constantly rails against the imminent arrival of television in Yellowknife, feeling that it will destroy the last vestiges of the Canadian frontier. Discuss the connection between the (often romanticized) Canadian far north as a mystical “final frontier” and the conflict Harry sees between radio and satellite television. When radio was first introduced to the far north, couldn’t’t the same argument (radio will spell the end for the frontier) be made for radio vs. horse or human-delivered mail?

  38. Amelia says:

    2) Response to Latimer’s prompt:

    As we discussed in class on Tuesday the 2nd, a lot of the one liners that Hay throws at the end of her sections and chapter often times seem to be a tool she uses for foreshadowing. However, beyond that, I also noticed that a lot of the “one-liners” seems to make very pungent statements about the characters. Particularly about their character, or their mood, or how the previous section/chapter effected them. They almost seem to summarize the effect that the preceding events have on the characters. For instance on page 212, the section ends with “The cold gathered. It was just beyond his window. He could feel it pressing in. All the cold from all over the Arctic pressing against that pane of glass.” (Hay, 212) This section is the one in which Harry is alone in his home, drinking, and think about Dido. He finds, along with the gold watch he gave her, a note from Daniel in her bedside table in which Daniel admits to thinking of “her constantly” and that he “loved her.”(Hay, 209) He reflects also the visit from the police regarding Arthur and Eddy, etc. This section of the chapter is one in which Harry is primarily reflecting on not-so-pleasant things, including finding the letter from Daniel. It seems to me that the last line is a metaphor for all the things pressing heavily on his mind, all the cold thoughts. “The cold gathered. It was just beyond his window.” (Hay, 212)

  39. Juliana says:

    (In response to Amelia’s prompt)
    Eleanor: p 256 “… now the air was perfectly still, and a second wind was inside her. Lying on the ground, being reshaped, was like lying awake beside a new husband. Inside the orange tent the light was eternal sunshine no matter the hour, her burned face and hands gave off rays of heat. She closed her eyes. Pink flowers against lichen flashed in a near irritation of feeling, an over-arousal; the wedding bed again.”

    A passage on page 256 provides curious insight into Eleanor’s character. Eleanor is a typically subdued and mysterious figure who seems almost stuck in her passiveness. This passage takes place during the canoe trip, seven days in, when the characters begin to notice the immense natural scenery around them. Primarily, this passage shows how deeply impacted the four characters were by their canoeing trip. Eleanor, a character typically on the outskirts of action, is shown experiencing new passion, new feeling and fundamental change. The natural world sparks a rebirth in Eleanor, suggesting that she will move from the outskirts to the center of events. The use of “husband” and “wedding bed” serve as one of Hay’s false foreshadowings, as Eleanor’s potential future husband, Ralph, tragically dies. Eleanor, nonetheless, is meeting a new part of her identity by experiencing nature. Her character is being “reshaped,” a motion that will affect the rest of her life.

  40. Ian M says:

    In response to Matt G.’s blog prompt:
    The theme of night in “Late Nights on Air” is one that applies to just about every character in the book at one point or another. Most characters in this novel stay up late, and ordinary sleep schedules are lost on them, especially in the summer when the sun never quite sets all the way. The character Lorna, although not one who is foremost in significance to the plot, is closely tied into the theme of night in Canada, and often takes long walks by herself in the middle of the night. This is how her death occurs, which most likely being a suicide, was her way of walking off to meet the night and never return.

  41. Ian M says:

    The pipeline debate creates a schism between opinions in this Northern Canadian town. What role does the character of the politician Berger play in “Late Nights on Air” and how does the debate he instigates affect the role of Canada as a whole in Hay’s novel?

  42. Emily says:

    Harry’s roles in “Late Nights on Air” range vastly, as does his character. From the behind the curtain late night host to acting manager, from admirer of Dido to confidant of Gwen (and his personal relationships with both of them) to good-old, slightly disgruntled buddy on a canoe trip. His past is vague, his reactions sometimes sweet and sometimes sour; what do you make of Harry? Give a passage or two where his character differs, do you see him as a growing character? Good guy, bad influence, or does it even matter?

  43. Azure says:

    1) In “Late Nights On Air” there’s a section describing the four characters on the canoe trip, “Ralph the gentleman duke. Eleanor the wise Queen. Gwen the moody princess. And he [Harry], the blistered and bitten and disgruntles fool” (Hay 250). Who do you think you would be most comparable to if you were on the canoe trip like our characters; Eleanor, Gwen, Harry, or Ralph, and why?

    2) (Responding to Latimer’s prompt) I think that Hay’s one liners at the end of sections and chapters are extremely unique; I’ve never read a book that does this so frequently. I haven’t been able to decide if I enjoy them or dislike them though, I guess it goes both ways and depends what exactly she is giving away. One in particular made me grateful for these giveaways, however, “… he felt more sure of his next step than he’d ever felt about anything. Eleanor wasn’t even forty and he was sixty-one, but on the last night of their trip he would ask her to marry him” (296). If Hay hadn’t given us this precious factoid of information, we wouldn’t have known that Ralph had actually proposed to Eleanor until she semi-admitted it later on in the novel, and even then she never fully came out and said that Ralph had proposed. This line doesn’t necessarily add to the progression of the story, but for me it ties it together more fluidly. In contrast, one giveaway that detracted from the progression of the story was on concerning Harry, “The box was addressed to Harry, she saw, and had a return address in New Brunswick. But he hadn’t opened it. ‘Why not?’ she asked, dumbfounded that anyone could receive a package in the mail and resist its mystery. He laughed and said that opening boxes made him sad. ‘I get lost in them, Gwen. All sorts of ghosts pour out” (134). This statement just made me wonder what ghosts Harry was stowing inside of him, and I wasted a good deal of time thinking about it. The worst part was that Hay never touched upon the subject again, so it turned out to just be a random tidbit of information she threw in there. It deviated from the story with no point at all.

  44. Juliana says:

    Instead of fulfilling expectations and succeeding, Hay has Dido fade away. What role does Dido’s character play in the novel and for the other characters? Why does Hay have Dido essentially disappear and what purpose do her reappearances serve?

  45. Latimer says:

    Hay uses lots of “one liners” at the ends of sections and chapters. What effect do these have on the story? Find at least two that either detract from or add to the progression of the story, and explain the effect.

  46. Matt Graham says:

    Late Nights on Air takes place in the interesting geographical oddity of Yellowknife where the sun never shows in the Winter and never sets in the Summer. In what ways does this odd lighting schedule coupled with the climate and remote nature of the location affect the characters? Also, in what way do these factors contribute to the overall feeling of the novel?

  47. Amelia says:

    1) Nature (Scenery, Weather, etc.) plays a quite substantial role in the Novel “Late Nights On Air.” Choose one scene/passage that focuses particularly on nature, and explain how it emphasizes other themes, characters, relationships, etc. and their impact on the story. What parallels do you notice between nature and characters/themes?

Comments are closed.