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green grass running water essay

Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Novel — Green Grass Running Water By Thomas King: The Parallels Between Reality And The Novel

green grass running water essay

Green Grass Running Water by Thomas King: The Parallels Between Reality and The Novel

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green grass running water essay


Themes in Green Grass Running Water

Theme of water in the invention of wings.

At the beginning of the novel, the motif of water is used to represent Sarah and Handful’s hope for freedom and unnoticeable, understated rebellions. The imagery of water is utilized to represent Sarah’s quiet defiance in her campaign for autonomy and fight to become a lawyer.

Symbols Of Water Themes In Bless Me, Ultima

The geography of rivers is important to their symbolism in this story. Antonio’s river starts from a lake, a place of no morals; studies prove that infants are selfish beyond belief, and so is water at its birth. His river carries the water to the ocean, the place where all water lands, carrying the blood and salt and debris that it picks up on its long journey. All high rivers go to the ocean, no matter how many lakes they go through. The ocean is where water goes to die, until its spirit, in clean water, is carried through the clouds back into the frigid mountain lakes, where it is born again. This is the cycle of water, and the cycle of life.

Analysis of I Am the Grass

Daly Walker has written a story about a doctor who is haunted by the shame and guilt he carries with him from the atrocious acts he committed while serving in the army; acts so horrible that he cannot speak of them. The story depends on his use of three literary elements: setting, plot and symbolism.

War Dances By Sherman Alexie

Traditions and old teachings are essential to Native American culture; however growing up in the modern west creates a distance and ignorance about one’s identity. In the beginning, the narrator is in the hospital while as his father lies on his death bed, when he than encounters fellow Native Americans. One of these men talks about an elderly Indian Scholar who paradoxically discussed identity, “She had taken nostalgia as her false idol-her thin blanket-and it was murdering her” (6). The nostalgia represents the old Native American ways. The woman can’t seem to let go of the past, which in turn creates confusion for the man to why she can’t let it go because she was lecturing “…separate indigenous literary identity which was ironic considering that she was speaking English in a room full of white professors”(6). The man’s ignorance with the elderly woman’s message creates a further cultural identity struggle. Once more in the hospital, the narrator talks to another Native American man who similarly feels a divide with his culture. “The Indian world is filled with charlatan, men and women who pretend…”

Analysis Of Crossing The Swamp By Mary Oliver

The swamp’s characterization carries density and weight, referring to life’s repeating rhythm that seems perpetual. The pressure of the “endless, wet thick cosmos,” prevents progression through the passage, as the heavy words slow the pace of interpretation. Oliver considers density in the opening lines to deliberately present life’s slow and repetitive movement.

Point of View and Symbolism in Sonny's Blues

Two other important symbols are the moments of silence throughout the story, and the reoccurring usage of water. Each occurrence of silence in James Baldwin’s story is of great importance. In a tale centered around music, silence stands out more than noise. Once Sonny was confronted by Isabel and her family about his constant piano playing and stopped, “The silence of the next few days must have been louder than the sound of all the music ever played since time began” (Baldwin 351). To Sonny, this silence is deadly. He lives his life for music. The stillness marks the beginning of his downfall. During the narrator’s first flashback to childhood, he recalls a sense of dismal seriousness, “For a moment nobody’s talking, but every face looks darkening, like the sky outside” (Baldwin 344). Even a child can feel that there is some sort of inescapable impending pain that everyone knows about, yet no one wants to discuss. However, that is the exact subject that Sonny addresses in his music. Water

Analysis Of ' My Life With The Wave '

The water is symbolic of romantic love as an overwhelming and transforming force that changes in form and changes the people involved. The wave is large, unpredictable and spans out as far as the eye can see. The movement of an all-encompassing emotion like love is impossible to contain, much like water. It is free flowing and goes on forever. “Love was a game, a perpetual creation (Paz, 2). Love and water are both creations of the divine and humans tend to use and abuse them. However, humans are emotional and social animals who need both love and water to survive. Waves have a way of hitting humans all at once, just like love. It renders humans excited and full of surprise at first “wave of surprise” (Paz, 2) like a crashing delight. It also leaves us always wanting more. We have an unquenchable thirst for love and affection, thus we chase it even in its most sinister forms, like an abusive relationship. The narrator is accepting of the wave 's presence when she appears in his home where he was once hesitant of the idea of her in his life. Love also transforms and can change us, like water changes states. It can become overwhelming and hard to breathe, but it is often all around us and

Symbol and Symbolism of Water in Toni Morrison's Beloved Essay

 Water represents Sethe's transition from slavery to freedom. Sethe left Sweet Home pregnant with Denver, "and ran off with no one's help" (p.224). She ran scared and fearful of the trackers following her trail.  Sethe met Amy Denver, a white women, on her way to Ohio.  Amy helped Sethe find the Ohio River.  The river was "one mile of dark water...[and] it looked like home to her and the baby"(p.83).  When Amy left, Sethe traveled downstream and met Stamp Paid.  He helped her and Denver cross the river to freedom.  Stamp took Sethe upstream, "and just when she thought he was taking her back to Kentucky, he [Stamp Paid] turned the flatbed and crossed the Ohio like a shot" (p.91).  The river locked away the memories of Sweet Home and began her life with Denver at 124.   Water represents the transition of Sethe's slave life to her life of freedom.  Again, water has cleansed the soul of the sin of slavery. The river is now a barrier.  It separates Sethe's life of slavery, to her new life of freedom.

Amy Tan And Fish Cheeks

What would he think of our noisy Chinese relative who lacked proper American manners? What terrible disappointment would he feel upon seeing not a roasted turkey and sweet potatoes but Chinese food (74). But as Tan grows older she begins to realize that giving up her Chinese heritage for more American customs is not what she truly wants in life. Similarly, “Museum” by Naomi Shihab Nye conceals irony in the authors thoughts. Nye thinks that mistaking the strangers home for the McNay was a big mistake in her young life. But as it turns out this “mistake” unintentionally taught a valuable lesson to the residents of the home. This is reveled to the reader by Nye through a quote from one of the residents “That was my home. I was a teenager sitting with my family talking in the living room. Before you came over, I never realized what a beautiful place I lived in. I never felt lucky before” (80). Including these traces of irony helps add character and comedy to the already entertaining articles.

James McBride's The Color of Water Essay

James McBride's memoir, The Color of Water, demonstrates a man's search for identity and a sense of self that derives from his multiracial family. His white mother, Ruth's abusive childhood as a Jew led her to search for acceptance in the African American community, where she made her large family from the two men she marries. James defines his identity by truth of his mother's pain and exceptionality, through the family she creates and the life she leaves behind. As a boy, James questions his unique family and color through his confusion of issues of race. Later in his life, as an adolescent, his racial perplexity results in James hiding from his emotions, relying only on the anger he felt against the

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie

In “A Drug Called Tradition,” Alexie’s humor efficaciously shows the bitter reality on the reservation. For example, at the beginning of the story, Alexie uses humor to reflect poverty on the reservation. After Junior shouts at Thomas, questioning “[h]ow come your fridge is always fucking empty,” Thomas goes inside the refrigerator and sits down, replying Junior “[t]here…It ain’t empty no more” (Alexie 12). As seen in this example, having Thomas sit inside the refrigerator and reply in a humorous tone, Alexie is successful in mirroring the issue of poverty, or the bitter reality, on the reservation. This point can also be supported by Stephen F. Evans’s essay, "'Open containers': Sherman Alexie's Drunken Indians,” in which Evans discusses Alexie’s use of satire and irony in his stories and poems. As Evans claims that “[c]onsidered as a whole, the best artistic moments in Alexie's poems, stories, and novels lie in his construction of a satiric mirror that reflects the painful reality of lives,” this further verifies the argument that humor in Alexie’s stories helps reflect the bitter actuality on the reservation (49).

Analysis Of Sherman Alexie's The Approximate Size Of My Favorite Tumor

Humor is a universal language whose breadth spans that of all ages and cultures. As a fundamental method of communication, it links humanity and fosters a deeper understanding of each other’s lives. In Sherman Alexie’s short story excerpt, The Approximate Size of my Favorite Tumor, Alexie highlights the identity of his people through the use of humor. Occurring throughout the work, humor defines Alexie’s style and view of the world around him. It acts as both a coping mechanism and a way of communicating with those around him, as humor is a language everyone can understand. In this sense, it weaves together Alexie’s view of Native American identity. Alexie uses this humor both to reveal long standing stereotypes about Native American people and communities and to maneuver through everyday life.

Planet Taco : A Global History Of Mexican Food

This paper looks to define and explore three books which are a crux to various food histories which in the last decade has become a scholarly journey as food history is becoming increasingly studied as a scholarly endeavor by historians where previously it was not seen in such a scholarly light. The three texts which are going to be examined are: Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food by Jeffery M. Pilcher, The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture by Rebecca L. Spang, and lastly To Live and Dine in Dixie: The Evolution of Urban Food Culture in the Jim Crow South by Angela Jill Cooley. Each of these books seek to redefine how people see their perspective topics whether it be Mexican identity rooted in cuisine, the evolution of southern food in a racially divided south, or even the concept of the restaurant emerging from a revolutionary culture. These texts bring awareness to various topics which have both social, cultural, and economic stigmas associated with them.

Transcendence in Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping Essay

The thoughts and emotions that occur in connection with water are triggered by the lake, and they help Ruth choose transience over any other form of existence. When water floods Fingerbone, the boundaries are overrun, exposing the impermanence of the physical world, and the world’s own natural push towards transience. Water shifts the margins, warning us that the visible world only shows us part of the whole--or perhaps even a mere reflection of a false reality. After the fantastic train wreck in which Ruth’s grandfather perished, the lake sealed itself over in ice, changing boundaries again, while it concealed, like a secret, the last traces of the victims with the illusion of its calm surface. The lake, a source of beauty and darkness, life and death, is “the accumulated past, which vanishes but does not vanish, which perishes and remains” (172). Water carries the symbolic possibility for rebirth– the flood causes the graves in the town cemetery to sink, “so that they looked a little like…empty bellies," suggesting that the dead were born into the receding waters (62). As water and death are so pre-eminent in Sylvie’s consciousness, in dream, she teaches Ruth to dance underwater, to live a life of transience to be

Theme Of Water In Masters Of The Dew

In the two novels, Masters of the Dew and Praisesong for the Widow, water is an evident representation of change between opposite ideas throughout the overall plots. In Masters of the Dew, Jacques Roumain tells the story of Manuel, a Haitian peasant who struggles to save his native village, Fonds Rouge, from severe drought and division of the villagers. Later, Manuel finds a large reservoir of water but only tells the secret to one person. Towards the end of the story, the village is saved, but only after the divided village agree to work together and build an irrigation system after Manuel dies. In spite of Manuel’s death, the people of Fonds Rouge finally access water. In his death, there was change--reconciliation. In this novel, water symbolises change, from death to life--revival. In Praisesong for the Widow, the symbolism is similar, but not as literal. The story starts with Avey Johnson, an African American widow, on a cruise ship with her friends. However, Avey starts to feel an indescribable urge to

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Gender Roles In Green Grass Running Water

green grass running water essay

Show More From the very first page of Thomas King’s Green Grass Running Water it is clear that his novel is focused on more than just one social issue. Though the most prominent one is that of the indigenous culture in Canada, there are many others hidden in plain sight throughout the book. The one, aside from culture, that seems the most prominent is gender . As he weaves in and out of different narratives, it seems obvious that King has something to say about gender; more specifically women. And yet, while he seems keen on bringing out the topic of gender it is almost as if he’s contradicting himself with his characterization. With such prominent characters in that of Alberta, Latisha, Babo, and Norma you would think that he would put some of what he …show more content… Whether it be the amount of times it switches to her perspective, or just how many of the other characters’ stories she weaves in and out of, her importance is very obvious from the beginning. We first come in to contact with Alberta as she is giving a lecture at a university in Calgary (Green Grass Running Water, Thomas King, 18). This immediately sets her up to be somewhat of a successful character, showcasing that she has a stable job in a city outside of her hometown. Right away we see the makings of what could possibly be a great character plot. This is accentuated when we see her, not long after, beginning to explain her desire for a child, and lack of one for a man. This immediately evokes the hope that Alberta will have an independent storyline, with somewhat of a breakaway from the male influence. Of course, these hopes are soon dashed by the fact that she then reveals conflict between choosing two men in her life, and thus this continues throughout the whole book. Her storyline never deters from this for more than a couple of sentences. Alberta’s main focus seems to always come back to her struggle to escape both Lionel and …show more content… A journal titled “Key Female Characters in Film Have More to Talk About Besides Men: Automating the Bechdel Test by Apoorv Agarwal et al. talks in depth about something called the “Bechdel Test”. While, usually used for films, it is something that can be applied to literature, and is extremely useful in this context. For better understanding, the Bechdel test, as explained in the journal, is a “series of three questions, which originated from Alison Bechdel’s comic ‘Dykes to Watch Out for’” (Agarwal et al., 1). The questions themselves are simple: “1. Are there at least two named women in the movie? 2. Do these women talk to each other? 3. Do these women talk to each other about something besides a man?” (Agarwal et al., 1). These three questions are used often to develop an understanding on how women are portrayed in film (or literature in this case). Using these questions for King’s novel can therefore help to better explain where exactly the female characters in this novel are being unjustly portrayed. The answer to the first two questions for this novel is thankfully yes. There area few more than two named female characters; Latisha, Alberta, Norma, and Babo being the main focus. Latisha and Alberta have a conversation near the end of the book and there are many other instances sprinkled throughout the novel with female characters

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green grass running water essay

Green Grass Running Water Analysis

Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King is a Canadian novel featuring Native Americans in the midst of their traditions in accordance with the rulers of the modern world in the book, the Whites. Several characters are seen to engulf in a battle with discrimination in an attempt to stay united as a community and find continued happiness in their Native identities. In Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King, the author states that discrimination negatively affects happiness, which leads to the questioning of one’s confidence that in turn has a negative effect in their search for identity. Although this novel ’s characters forgo several acts of discrimination, Robinson Crusoe ’s Friday discovery of home, Lionel’s realization of his identity, …show more content…

In this essay, the author

When Crusoe meets Friday, he is joyous for having found someone he could finally make his slave as he had been previously. Although not fully envious of Robinson Crusoe, Friday is found stuck in between two worlds. One, where he thinks of Robinson as his friend and the other where he wonders why he is being treated as a slave, and not for his own personal benefit. Robinson’s views are purely of self-profit as he describes his dreams: “to think that this was all my own, that I was King and Lord of all this Country indefeasibly, and had a Right of Possession” (Defoe 72). This passage explains the belief of Robinson Crusoe in the feudal system and the use of hierarchy to promote bourgeois values upon a population. The character of Robinson Crusoe is then used in Green Grass, Running Water in a satirical manner when Thought Woman explains to Crusoe that Robinson Crusoe himself would not enjoy his own company as he is seen as a white supremacist with no place on native land: “But I don’t want to be Friday, says Robinson Crusoe. No point in being Robinson Crusoe all your life, says Thought Woman. It wouldn’t be much fun” (King 295). Furthermore, this remarks insists that Friday was never a true friend to Crusoe when he also states: “it has been difficult not having someone of color around whom I …show more content…

Through the characters of Lionel, Friday from Robinson Crusoe, as well as Eli’s link to the symbolism of the cabin, Thomas King clarifies upon the discrimination that still exists in Native communities and their appreciation of nature. King incorporates the idolization of materialistic objects which are dematerialized due to the irritable ungratefulness of the Whites, in the novel. King concludes his story the same way that it commenced, recapitulating the idea of water and its link to purity and the degradation of racial borders over the

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Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King Explicatory Essay

The fundamentals of the novel, the symbolic meaning of the main character, the conclusion. the symbol of the traditional struggle, works cited.

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When speaking about the book Green Grass, Running Water written by Thomas King, I would like to consider some fundamentals of the novel.

So, first of all, I would like to point out that the author “begins to extricate his characters’ lives from the domination of the invader’s discourses by weaving their stories into both Native American oral traditions and into revisions of some of the most damaging narratives of domination and conquest” (Cox 221). However, this fact is difficult to accept, as the so-called traditional Western discourse does not support the aspect.

Generally, the novel Green Grass, Running Water, which appeared in the early nineties, seems to be the reflection of distinctive features between both Native and Western realities. On the other hand, one is to keep in mind that fluctuating plot themes are also discovered in the novel. King’s novel is recognized to be a perfect example of cultural perceptions.

The most essential issues the author wants to draw his readers’ attention to are the transformative capacities of people and language. To my mind, the style of the writer is really unique, as the author provides his readers with an opportunity to find their own answers to important questions. For instance, King’s use of repetitions is of particular significance, as this language device shows the importance of people’s moral values.

“Where did the water come from? Said Alberta.

Where did the water come from? Said Patrolman Delano.

Where did the water come from? Said Sergeant Cereno.

Where did the water come from? Said Lionel” (King 104).

The quotation explains that it is not important whether people can find an answer to the question or no; on the contrary, the author shows that people are ready to accept the unknown reality. A sense of cohesion seems to have a symbolic meaning in relation to this example.

Generally, the author describes the lives of five Blackfoot Indians, whose existence is disclosed in unusual manner; thus, King’s novel combines comical, cosmic, and coincidental elements. The most interesting character, however, which I would like to analyze in detail, is a university professor Alberta.

In my opinion, Alberta is not a strong character, although she is the main one. A university professor is considered to be a positive character, as she possesses a strong female intuition and innate charm.

However, the fact that the main character is in love with two men, gives us an opportunity to suppose that her intentions are not serious. On the one hand, it seems that Alberta’s situation is rather funny; however, on the other hand, it is obvious that the woman has no will power, as she wants to have children, but cannot resolve her inner conflicts. For this reason, one can make a conclusion that Alberta’s story is considered to be a drama.

Taking into account the main character’s worldview, it becomes obvious that one of the key themes the author highlights is considered to be independence. The need for balance is recognized to be one of the primary issues Alberta is to think about. Thus, it is also necessary to state that through this need, King shows what important issues modern Native North Americans face.

Alberta’s dissatisfaction with her life gives us an opportunity to suppose that another key theme of the novel seems to be the concept of self-discovery. The woman is honest and intelligent; however, her desire to be independent has led her to keep both men at a distance. In other words, it is evident that the key reason of Alberta’s unhappy life is her unwillingness to lose herself in Charlie and Lionel.

In my opinion, Alberta’s cynicism and some unrealistic romantic visions reflect her inner contradictions and the conflict of the mind. On the other hand, it also seems that the author wants to highlight important criticism of government action. So, Alberta is considered to be the so-called symbolic character, as she is a reflection of all complicated issues in the novel. For instance, Alberta says:

You know the tribe isn’t going to make a cent off that dam. And what about all

that waterfront property on the new lake […] What happened to all those lots

that the band was supposed to get? […] You know that the tribe isn’t going

to make any money off the entire deal (King 116-117).

Generally, one is to keep in mind that the novel Green Grass, Running Water combines two plots. On the one hand, the author depicts the so-called quasi-realistic events; on the other hand, he describes the myth of world creation.

The novel discloses numerous complicated issues, which are extremely important for Native North Americans. One of the main characters – Alberta reflects the traditional nature of the struggle between two opposite forces. Alberta’s doubts and inner conflict have a symbolic meaning in King’s novel.

Cox, James H. “ All This Water Imagery Must Mean Something: Thomas King’s Revisions of Narratives of Domination and Conquest in Green Grass, Running Water, ” Lincoln, NE, American Indian Quarterly 24.2: 2000. Print.

King, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water, New York, NY, Bantam Books: 1994. Print.

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Green Grass, Running Water

By thomas king, green grass, running water essay questions.

How is education presented in the novel?

Education is presented ambivalently in the novel. In some ways, it is shown as a way that characters become absorbed in Western values and ideals, and as a force that makes them more distant from their Aboriginal heritage. It is noted by many other characters that Eli’s move to Toronto in order to pursue university studies and then work as a professor alienated him from his family and from life on the reservation. Especially because he now teaches and focuses his research on European authors, he seems to have fully committed to a model of transferring knowledge that is largely Eurocentric and does not account for Aboriginal experiences. According to critic Marlene Goldman, "In King's novel, writing and mapping represent complicitous activities that often serve to secure a Western worldview" (106). Similarly, Charlie’s work as a lawyer is only possible because he is highly educated, and this work has alienated him from his heritage, especially due to his participation in the legal defense of the dam project.

On the other hand, education is shown as an important tool allowing characters to have better futures. Lionel’s lack of education has been a significant factor in limiting his opportunities, and when he tries to make a plan to improve his life, one of the key things he resolves to do is return to school.

How do male and female characters respond differently to their cultural heritage? Generally, female characters seem to be better able to integrate their cultural heritage as Blackfoot women into their lives, and even use it as a way to be successful. Alberta’s career meets conventional standards of Western success, in that she is highly educated and works as a university professor. At the same, she teaches about Aboriginal history and culture so that she is able to integrate different aspects of her identity together. Although Latisha’s career working at the Dead Dog Café is very different, she also uses her cultural heritage in order to help the restaurant succeed by manipulating stereotypes to her own advantage.

Male characters such as Lionel, Charlie, and Eli face greater struggles in deciding how they both remain true to their cultural heritage and find success in the wider world. For both Charlie and Eli, their professions put them in conflict with their cultural identities, and they also have conflicted relationships with their families, which weakens ties connecting them to their culture of origin.

What is the significance of the fragmented and non-linear narrative?

King's novel is structured in a way that is significantly different, and potentially confusing, for readers accustomed to a linear story following the same set of characters from beginning, middle, and end. This structure is important because it immediately forces readers to confront their assumptions about the "right" way to tell a story. One tradition is no more valid than another, but when one becomes dominant, it tends to overshadow the others. The fragmented and non-linear structure of the novel forces the reader to approach the story from a more trusting perspective and to let go of some control; much like Coyote, readers have to learn a new way of understanding. This style of narrative also reflects an oral tradition, with breaks, gaps, interruptions, and internal arguments, thereby affirming the importance of a heritage of telling stories rather than a more Westernized focus on writing them down and sharing them in one fixed, final version.

Why do the elders return to the hospital?

The disappearance of the four Indian elders from Dr. Hovaugh's hospital at first seems to suggest that they are running away, and that they might be unhappy or mistreated there. However, after they have completed their project of helping the characters in the modern world, they peacefully come back to the hospital on their own terms and seem quite happy to be back. This suggests that the elders, far from being trapped or held prisoner, make their own choices and exercise their own agency. They do what needs to be done, and rest when required. In fact, they seem to have quite a happy relationship with Babo, Dr. Hovaugh, and the hospital; it would just be a mistake to assume that they are controlled by it.

What is the significance of the novel's conclusion?

The novel ends with what seems like yet another beginning. Coyote and the narrator are still discussing the origins of the world, which began with water, and the narrator starts a new story describing how that came to be. This conclusion is important because it suggests that a story is never truly finished; it can always be returned to, and told in a different voice or from a different perspective. This conclusion prevents the novel from becoming too authoritative or dominated by a single account of events. It also makes it clear that not all of the problems have been resolved, or that there is a tidy or conclusive ending. The story has presented some events, shed some perspective, and hopefully broadened a reader's perspective. The questions it has raised, about how individuals of different backgrounds are treated and how the future can learn from the past, are still very much in need of further exploration.

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Green Grass, Running Water Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Green Grass, Running Water is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Green Grass Running Water

Eli learns about his mother's death through Norma.

What is the mood in Green Grass, Running Water?

The tone of the novel is often playful, funny, sarcastic, or teasing. Various characters joke with each other, make humorous comments about their lives, or become playfully exasperated with each other. Although many of the topics are serious, such...

In the end, he had become what he had always been. An Indian. Not a particularly successful one at that. The cabin was hardly bigger than his office at the university. No electricity. No running water. A wood stove. p. 262

This quote reflects...

Study Guide for Green Grass, Running Water

Green Grass, Running Water study guide contains a biography of Thomas King, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

Essays for Green Grass, Running Water

Green Grass, Running Water essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King.

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The novel Green Grass, Running Water is a multifaceted work of art in the literal sense. The plot circles around an Indian tribe i.e. the Blackfoots, while interweaving myths and the stereotypical attitude towards Native Americans into the macro picture. It takes an extremely sensitive topic and makes sense of it through a comical way.

Through the book King raises a voice against the treatment of the Native culture and way of life at the hands of the ‘white,’ through humorous and witty settings, plots and dialogues.

One can easily spot the shots that have taken against the government that went onto cheat the Natives in the name of friendship, the idea of religion, the social stigma that plagues the Natives and a whole lot more.

The discord created by Coyote is a very integral part of the novel. In the story Coyote is the Trickster, and along with him the four Indians namely Lone Ranger, Ishmael, Robin son Crusoe, and Hawkeye set their course towards the Blackfoot reservation so they can find things to ‘fix’ (133).


Proficient in: Water

“ Amazing as always, gave her a week to finish a big assignment and came through way ahead of time. ”

When they come onto the reservation everything goes topsy-turvy. Through the re-telling of old Native American legends King puts things into a different perspective for the reader. On top of the Native legends one will be amused by the many references to biblical stories as well.

When it comes to the role of Coyote we know that he is one force that is present long before the world really exists. In the start where there was nothing but “just the water” even then the trickster was present, “but Coyote was asleep”.

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This in itself can be taken as a testimonial for Coyote’s strength and importance. Whenever Coyote enters the plot he manages to wreak havoc by influencing the events and people around him. He does this on more than one occasion by simply making a joke or performing a ritual.

It is important to note though that Coyote never indulges in direct violence, his idea of wreaking havoc comes from a very passive stance so to speak. His actions are based on what the others say and how he can manipulate their words.  In the length of the novel Coyote assists in ‘fixing the world’ through interconnecting European tales with Native ones. He distorts the stories that were brought in by the early settlers by adding the Native flavor to them, thereby coming up with completely new stories altogether.

One instance where Coyote and the four Indians try to ‘fix’ the world is the dam. The thing to note here is that the damn is not going to bring any good to the Natives. The government has ignored many things, such as the fault lines, while making the damn. In effect it would bring great problems to the people living around the area if it were to break.

Coyote possesses mystical powers and can manipulate the environment around him. In one of the scenes from the book Ishmael and Robinson Crusoe ask him whether he has been dancing or singing to which he replies “Just a little” (341) on both counts. At that point a great earthquake hits the land and causes the stress fractures under the dam to open up.

Now, the dam in essence was bad, but once it had been built it would have been worse for it to just fall apart. At one glance one might thing that Coyotes doing was negative rather than positive. However, with the supernatural demolition of the dam, the flood that follows symbolically washes away pieces of the colonial heritage.

The Natives are then able to defy the government and reclaim their land. Even Eli, who ended up dying in the process, is a symbol of strength for the remaining people. His cabin stands are an icon for the rest, a piece of their heritage which one of their own died protecting. Even though Coyote caused death, he still managed to give people something to hold onto, something to huddle them closer to their own Native values.

Another example of Coyote’s well meaning intentions’ going wrong is the John Wayne movie, where he manages to twist and turn the story through the use of linguistic violence and ends up completely distorting it. This is good because he inculcates the Native culture and values into the story which is important for the main characters on the Blackfoot reserve.

The well known story ‘The Mysterious Warrior’ is toyed with. In an attempt to change the world, they end up changing the classic too. In the new version the Indians are not the ones who die terrible deaths but John Wayne and Richard Widmar instead. The Natives that had been hunted by the cavalry suddenly begin to fight back and massacred their assailants. The Natives on the reserve need this kind of reinforcement because they are losing their own values and their heritage and not because they want to, but because they cant find the will to really fight for it.

Eli is the only one who really pushes for anything, while the rest themselves have managed to infuse ‘white’ culture into every part of their lives. An example of this is Latisha who is only using her heritage and that too by inventing things that never existed in the Native culture to begin with i.e. selling dog meat burgers (which are really hamburgers) to tourists claiming it to be a Native tradition, when it wasn’t.

Coyote at times hinders the path of the other four Indians as well. In a way he is the embodiment of the struggle of the Natives against the ‘whites’. His actions may at times seem completely negative, but one must remember that Coyote has been around for a while. And in the end his actions only end up benefiting the Natives of the reserves.

Throughout the novel it would seem as though Coyote has induced certain events almost by mistake or through carelessness but once it has run its course it only ends up helping the Blackfoots. In a way it can be said that Coyote has wisdom beyond what most can understand which is why it is possible that he just might know how things will turn out at the culmination. Coyote tends to intertwine the old ways with the new norms. He uses many biblical references (albeit distorting them completely) and the legends of the old age and present them in a very contemporary way.  His distortion of the white tales helps by cleansing the invasive stereotypes and stigma that surround the Indians of today.

In one instance a dam builder says to Eli “Besides, you guys aren’t real Indians anyway. I mean, you drive cars, watch television, go to hockey games. Look at you. You are a university professor” (King 119). This shows the ignorance and misconceptions about the Natives. The general public is completely oblivious of these people, their lives and how they exist. Coyote in his own crazy way tries to do away with this kind of mentality.

Thus, Coyote manages to pull the Natives together. The culture and heritage that has been eluding them and at times confusing them is brought back by him. His actions may at times seem overly negative but in the long run they always prove to be good for the people on the reserve. This is why in totality one can only say that the Tricksters actions are positive and not negative.

Green Grass, Running Water: Thomas King (1993)

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