Barkskin is the story of two poor, uneducated young French men Rene Sel and Charles Duquet, who came to Canada for their better future but as contracted servents. They are indentured to a Gothic master for three years, so that they will get 5 acres of land in exchange of it. They worked here as woodcutters barkskins. Rene has faced terrific hardship, burdened by clearing the forest ,he was incharge. Here Rene Sel was enforced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman and their offsprings live cornered between two contrary folklore. Where as Duquet proved very clever and callous, he escaped from the lord and started trading in fur. After some time he established his own timber business. The author in her book tells the story of the heirs of Rene Sel and Charles Duquet over 300 of years. This is the story of their journeys under strikingly inhuman conditions,across America, to Europe, to China, to New zealand.
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Proulx almost spent 10 years on her research and travelled the world. She met Botanists, Timber Industry experts and even plant geneticists to study the residues of oldie jungles in New Zealand, South America and Europe. She also observed the Greenland’s ice fields.
Proulx is a master in weaving the story and its characters. All the characters of her story are so powerful that they engage the readers.