Perseverance is the hardest but most necessary quality for success; in fact, perseverance is a hard-earned characteristic for Richard Wagamese’s protagonist, Saul in his 2012 novel, Indian Horse. Saul is able to persevere through residential school, racist bullying and the disease of being an alcoholic. Even though Saul does not have a perfect ending, he is able to persevere through enough hard times to be successful.
Saul is able to persevere when he is left with a sense of unworthiness, through racism and succeeds when all odds are against him, because of his determination. First of all, he is determined to fight even though everything is taken from him. Influential people or many of his jealous team members took away from him his culture, his religion, many opportunities but most importantly hope. When Saul first arrives at residential school, he describes this by saying “When your innocence is stripped from you, when your people are denigrated, when the family you came from is denounced and your tribal ways and rituals are pronounced backward, primitive, savage, you come to see yourself as less than human. That is hell on earth, that sense of unworthiness. That is what they inflicted on us”(81). This shows just how unworthy they make them feel in residential schools and how much harder it makes it to succeed. Being alone makes this harder because he does not have support. To succeed after having the childhood Saul has in residential schools makes his success much greater. Wagamese’s protagonist does not let constant negative and racist words get in the way of his fight. Saul describes hockey as a game for ‘white’ people by saying, “white ice, white players.”(pg.149). This is a very simple quote that describes the racism in the game. The game is played with a negative and racist mentality. Persevering through racism is very hard and shows how much determination Saul has since the playing field is never equal. Finally, Saul shows determination by persevering and putting up a good fight even when he knows all odds were against him.
Saul knows it would be hard to succeed, as many of his own team members of Moose remind him why not, “first you’re not from here and you’re taking a spot away from someone else. Second is you’re a sawed-off little runt and they’re gonna think they have to protect you, stand up for you.”(100). This shows how much determination he has, how he keeps fighting even though they constantly remind him to stop. People reminding him why to stop makes persevering much harder since he does not have support throughout the journey. The fact that Saul has a thousand reasons why to stop but just needs one to stay shows how much determination he has. They see Saul making the team as him ‘taking’ the place from someone instead of ‘filling’ one. Saul has a really hard time growing up but he has much more determination, allowing him to put up a good fight and persevere.Saul’s success story is not his initial dream, but shows perseverance through many challenges and the ability to redeem himself having courage, hope and self- discipline. Saul suffers from alcoholism but is able to recover having the courage to accept his disease and ask for help. He shows courage going back to the New Dawn Centre and work very hard to get passed it, saying “I went back because I needed a solid new start on a new road and I knew it would be hard” (207). One of the scariest things in life is to get up one a person has fallen. Saul is brave and courageous enough to get a solid new start. So, it is courage what makes this story’s ending a success. Hope is the only thing that keeps a person moving and from giving up. This is one of the reasons Saul is admired the most, for having hope in the darkest and hardest times.
Since the beginning of the novel, Saul demonstrates having hope, saying “I no longer felt hopeless, chill air around me because I had Father Leboutillier, the ice, the mornings and the promise of the game Ii would soon be old enough to play” (66). From this passage he describes hockey as his ‘happy’ or ‘safe’ place. Saul is ready for more challenges and to keep persevering. It is Saul’s hopeful attitude towards life that’s helps him get through rough times. Having hope teaches Saul that the only way to make a dream possible is to go through what seems impossible. Having no support from anyone requires a lot of self discipline to achieve your dreams. Saul starts his hockey journey alone and taught himself that having self discipline is the only way to succeeds. The beginning of his hockey did not journey did not really seems like one since he began cleaning the rink and is not allowed to play. Saul discovered his passion alone, when he describes “I made sure my stick made no sound against the ice, lest someone discover me there. When the first turd eventually broke apart, I’d take another and march up on ice again with a substitute” (67). Saul is not allowed to play, but manages to learn the rules. With self discipline he taught himself to play the game but most importantly to work hard everyday. One of the hardest things Saul has to persevere through is redemption.The only way to persevere is by rising when falling by redeeming yourself. Saul is able to do so by having courage, hope and self discipline.Saul perseveres through so many challenges in order to achieve many of his dreams. His story a successful one, even though it did not have a stereotypical ‘successful’ ending.
Saul fights through residential school and finds out that hockey is his only hope and becomes his dream. Attempting to achieve this dream he faces many challenges. He overcomes many but unfortunately falls into alcoholism. After hitting rock bottom he is able to rise again having determination and having the ability to redeem himself. In life, everyone has dreams they want to achieve. People fight hard every day but even harder when we are less hopeful. Saul’s life in the novel Indian Horse is a very successful one. Not because he becomes the best hockey player but because he rises after hitting rock bottom. However, hope, perseverance and determination all relate, they are what keeps Saul going and leads Saul to success.