Royce, who is a geologist, points out a formation they pass on the train: the Frontenac Axis. Unlike the neat slabs of limestone that are the surrounding countryside, the Axis “is nothing less than an eruption of the vast and crazy old Canadian Shield, all the ancient combustion cutting through the limestone, pouring over, messing up those giant steps.” And then he advises her to watch for it if she passes that way again.
Surely this is significant for Munro, especially given the title. I suspect that Royce himself represents the Axis—the disorderly in life—and that Avie’s own life has been like the neat slabs of limestone. If she passes this way again, Munro must be saying, Avie might want to go for a little of the ancient combustion instead.
Yes? Am I reading too much into it? Apologies to those without a subscription as this story is not available on line.
January 31, 2011: “Axis” by Alice Munro