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Frogmarch Essay, Research Paper

SAME-SAME BUT DIFFERENT

L

ast Thursday I was at my hairdresser, and we talked about the Danish referendum, which was being held the same day. I asked her, if she thought her status as a Thai immigrant would change with the election, and she answered “It will be same-same but different”.

The question of whether Quebec should be recognised a sovereign Canadian state or not, is the core of the fable Frogmarch. The title indicates that the French speaking Quebecois feel that the majority of English speakers in the rest of Canada are suppressing them. The French, in the fable, represented by the 3 frogs, all agree that there should be a referendum, but their motives are different. The first two frogs want the separation to be a peaceful change that doesn’t really modify anything. They still want to keep the currency and their membership in N.I.F.T.Y. (a paraphrase of N.A.F.T.A. North American Free Trade Agreement, between U.S.A, Canada and Mexico) but they will regain their pride as a separate state. The young frog, who resembles a more aggressive and radical group of Quebecois, want to cut all bonds with Canada, except economical connections, and throw all English speaking Canadians out.

The young frog will shut down the sparrow’s restaurant, and sell flies instead, and that way all the birds will flee from the pond. The birds/the sparrow is the symbol of the average English speaking Canadian, who doesn’t really understand the schism of Quebec. The sparrow is confused, because he can’t find out what the frogs will do after the referendum. They all agree that everything will be different yet stay the same.

When I read this passage, I thought of my hairdresser, this was exactly what she had said about Denmark. Even though the consequences of a referendum, such as the Canadian of +95 and the Danish of last Thursday, doesn’t show any immediate changes, it manifests the intent to change on a long-term basis. The situation in Quebec is the opposite of the Danish. Many Danes feel they are being frog-marched in to a European Union, and therefore voted no last Thursday. Denmark has what Quebec wants; sovereignty. In both Denmark and Quebec the people voted almost 50-50 to the referendum. This is a display of a people in doubt, deciding the future of one’s country is a very abstract thought, and very difficult to relate to. To some people making decisions like that are very important, because they fear being subdued by a majority, or being forced to give up their currency. To others the effect of such a referendum is merely a formality, that is needed for political reasons, and with little or no effect in everyday life. The latter are people like the two swamp frogs and my hairdresser, who thinks it will be same-same but different. Arnason illustrates this humorously by using the “chugarum”, as the only word in “Frog”. The only answer to the referendum is “chugarum”, the sparrow cannot see any coherence in this, because it will always be “chugarum”, and thus never be anything.


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