Monday, February 06, 2006

Reader's Diary #28- Joseph Boyden: Three Day Road (up to Kiskinohanaasowin/ Learning)

Earlier I had said that I liked Three Day Road more than Deafening because it doesn't seem as in your face with literary devices (such as symbolism, imagery, etc). That's not to say the book is void of them. If that were the case, it would surely be too bland. It's a matter of working such devices in without making them seem too distracting, too obvious, or too tried. One of my favourite examples in Three Day Road so far, is the incident with the bear.

After a remarkably poor hunting season, the tribe is slowly starving and one day a group of hunters return with a bear they have killed. It upsets many who were "bear clan" that they would "disturb a brother's winter sleep." This, accompanied with the imagery of the manlike, skinned bear hanging from a pole, is an almost palpable omen and it isn't long before misery comes for the tribe.

I don't know how many authors intentionally place morals in their books. Nor do I know if Boyden has placed one (or several) in this book. I don't always look for one. However, it's my business as a reader if I want to extract a moral and I might be on my way to doing that with this novel. There seems to me to be a lesson here on the value of story-telling to remind us who were are, to help us recover the pieces of ourselves when tragedy has ripped us apart. (I know, I know, very cliched, so maybe I should work for Hallmark.) I'm not quite sure I'm there with this book yet, and maybe in the end I won't remember that point at all, but even if I do I appreciate that it's not shoved down my throat.


Unknown said...

I think one of the central themes to the book is the importance of story-telling... it's the only medicine that Niska's able to offer Xavier. Story-telling is a big deal in all First Nation cultures, isn't it? The original slide show/home movie?

We determined that the overall morals in the book were:
1. War is bad.
2. Native Canadians are not.


John Mutford said...

Re: "Native Canadians are not [bad]"

I think at the very least, he [Boyden] makes the case that, if some are bad, there's a lot of reasons as to what may have drove them to be that way.