“McGregor’s Journey” by Pauline Melville is a powerful examination of the influence of past (more specifically, racial and colonial) injustices on present-day relationships between different ethnic groups. Is McGregor a truly nonconformist character who transcends the racial divide? Myth is an important element again in "McGregor'sJourney." Givinguphisjob onabuildingsite,McGregor goesonadrunken Odyssey. In their attachment to conventional propriety, people around him seem already to have died. His consciousness al- tered, he feels himself increasingly at odds with the living dead. He descends into the underground. "Overhead, the mammoth city, with its millions of citizens in their neon-lit offices, went about its business. And not a solitary soul was aware that far beneath the ground underfoot, McGregor was voyaging" (95). After a sleep—"For all he knew, he had slept three days and three nights" (96)—McGregor comes to life again. He passes a bris- ding dog—a Cerberus figure—and sees "a wondrous sight" (96), a black woman in her forties dancing vigorously. She too has been drinking. Affectionately, she invites him to dance. McGregor approached bashfully:
"Och. I canna dance," he said.
"Everybody can dance," she insisted and continued to shimmy round the hall. Suddenly, McGregor joined her, leaping into the air and executing awild,jerky Highland fling accompanied by ajoyous, warlike scream. The woman shook with laughter. "You're beautiful," said McGregor.
"Yuh lie," she screeched with laughter again and stopped to catch her breath. "It still snowing up there?" she asked. (96-97) Under the influence of drink, the two establish, for a moment, warm community. But other realities threaten. When McGregor is about to kiss her as invited—he calls her "the first real bit of humanity" he has met that day, "the first person with a wee bit of optimism" (97)—he is inhibited by racial awareness. The guard whose advice he solicits approves the hesitation. The blacks in the...
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