Under the Ribs of Death and What It Means to be a Canadian
This nature of being immigrants and the experiences the immigrants had in the past were portrayed in John Marlyn's Under the Ribs of Death.
Equipped with a new name and a hardened heart, he is close to realizing his ambition when fortune's wheel takes an unexpected - and possibly redemptive - turn.
Combining social realism and moral parable, Under the Ribs of Death is John Marlyn's ironic portrayal of the immigrant experience in the years leading up to the Great Depression. As a commentary on the problems of cultural assimilation, this novel is as relevant today as it was when first published in 1957.
Since its publication, Under the Ribs of Death has been recognized as a vivid recreation of Winnipeg's multiethnic North End in the 1920s, a subtle analysis of racial prejudice and its consequences, and the first significant revelation of Hungarian immigrant experience in English Canada.
In the story, we see the bitterness that Hungarian immigrants were compelled to endure as against the lavishness of those other nationalities that had the opportunity of arriving there first. The social divide was underpinned in the story thru the statement of the main character who said the following:
"The English," he whispered. "Pa, the only people who count are the English. Their fathers got all the best jobs. They're the only ones nobody ever calls foreigners. Nobody ever makes fun of their names or calls them, 'Baloney-eaters,' or laughs at the way they dress or talk.” “Nobody,” he concluded bitterly, "cause when you're English it's the same as being Canadian." ...