Cultural Integrity in Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
Negative childhood experiences and systematic oppression are important factors that show the ways in which different people face challenges in their lives. Indigenous youth today are facing the problems of intergenerational trauma that has been passed on through societal injustice. In Joseph Boyden’s novel Three Day Road the upbringings and childhood experiences of the two boys contrast; where Xavier raises and teaches about his culture, Elijah is mistreated, abused and taught that his culture is lower in rank and wrong. These factors determine how the two boys face corrupting forces in their adulthood. Overall the midpoint of the novel the two boys address their culture in different ways; where Xavier accepts and values his culture, Elijah rejects the teachings of his culture. Xavier supports his cultural identity and fights against the corruptive forces; Elijah himself is in corruptive forces and loses his sense of identity by rejecting his true self. Xavier and Elijah meet different destinies, in the end, Elijah becomes the Wendigo as he commits unjust killings and worships himself as a superhero. Xavier completes his destiny as a Wendigo killer delivering Elijah from evil; Xavier returns home and finds release in family values and spiritual healing. The nature of each character’s upbringing determines their ability that how they respond to oppressive like, addictive, and corruptive forces. The way in which each character faces these forces shows their actions and who they become. The characters’ transformations from experience of addiction show their destinies, that one finds release where the other meets his death because Elijah never accepted his culture, which leads him to be victimized by the oppression. Three Day Road demonstrates how cultural integrity enables some characters to overcome oppression while the loss of spirituality inevitably results in the destruction of others.
Elijah acknowledges Cultural Imperialism, and he turns into a Wendigo due to Wemistikoshiw individuals. As Elijah becomes addicted to two things – morphine and killing he loses his power and his “voice” as the drugs and addictions overpower him. The Windigo soul shapes Elijah’s future since he becomes devoured by it and he has become it himself. Indeed, even with the admonitions and the way of life that he is raised and raised with, he is unable to stop what is to become of him. A windigo. “It has gone too far, hasn’t it… I have gone too far, haven’t I.” (Boyden 369). This passage reveals how Elijah all through the war is the furious, athletic and increasingly headed to eliminate German soldiers. As the war progresses Elijah ended up scalping each soldier he murders. Elijah is brought up in a residential school where he experiences abuse through institutionalized physical barbarism, he is taught to be ashamed and hateful toward his culture; as a result, Elijah rejects his culture and his true identity. The Section from the book clarifies that Elijah ends up in another world. A world that controls by his hunger for blood. In another Passage Elijah says, “Don’t be so literal, X,’ he says. ‘I have found the one thing I am truly talented at, and that is killing men. I do not need food when I have this.’ (320). He explicitly says that he need not bother with nourishment to eat, he simply needs men to slaughter and sustain his appetite with their spirit and soul. In the military he invests his energy with Wemistikoshiw, consistently needs to resemble them. Elijah takes pride within the killing of others. in this passage, Elijah engages in a very symbolic ritual and mixing his conscience along with his inner madness. performing this ritual Elijah turns to a bigger size, and he’s taking the characteristics of the Wendigo. The action of scalping is a comorbidity that motivates the pleasure of killing; Elijah relates the oppressive killing with illusion that uses to paint his actions in a very heroic light. Elijah becomes a Wendigo and loses his humanity; the debasement, institutionalized trauma, and his ego resulting in the absence of morality. Elijah acts on his impulses carelessly without thinking about the result, he murders a child out of bloodlust. Xavier reveals witness to the loss of his best friend and the birth of a monste as; A rifle shot explodes and the child goes still, a red hole punched in her chest by the bullet. ‘Mo-na!’ I scream. I spin around to Elijah and he stands there with a blank look on his face, absorbing the scene. ‘You couldn’t tell that she was a child?’ I yell at him. “I am trained not to hesitate in situations of danger,” he answers coldly (Boyden 305-6). The anger from traumatic situations has manifested into corruptive behaviours. Elijah becomes a Wendigo by following a path he sees as glorious when in reality his desires make him to kill those who are helpless. Within this passage, Joseph Boyden claims that Elijah has separate, and transforms his aura into a hungry monster for flesh and mutilation. Xavier fulfills his destiny as the last Wendigo killer through ending Elijah’s life
He is praised for his killing and the number of kills he has. He has become the Hero of Wemistikoshiw people which is a wendigo. As Three Day Road advances, Elijah gradually dropped into madness. Like the windigo woman, Niska described in her childhood Elijah’s hunger (though metaphorical) could only be satisfied by human flesh. The scene in which he gives Xavier meat joking that this is ‘German’ reflects, in particular, his utter loss of culture — he has come to the point where he no keeps existence in all ways longer and can make jokes about eating another human. Throughout the novel Elijah becomes even more than life this gradual transformation is symbolic of life.this slow evolution is reminiscent of the changes Niska described in Micah’s wife when she returned to the hunting camp. ‘Elijah sits up and reaches as if to hug me … He’s no longer smiling. His mouth is twisted in an angry grimace. No thinking anymore. I fight against Elijah until I am on top of him. His face calms … My hands wrap around Elijah’s throat. I don’t know what else to do. I straddle Elijah’s waist and squeeze with all my might. … ‘It has gone too far hasn’t it,’ he says, ‘I have gone too far haven’t I.’ … I must finish this. I have become what you are Niska,’ (Boyden 369-370) -Elijah’s activities and feelings propose that he is not similar to the person that he was before the war and his actions forces Xavier to kill his one and only friend as a wendigo killer who accepts Cultural imperialism. Elijah used to be a real, mindful man, anyway the war transforms him into someone he never envisions to be. “But this freedom he talks about, this freedom to kill, is a choice I no longer want”(Boyden 283). All of the above Quotations illustrate one thing: Negative childhood experiences and systematic oppression causes Elijah’s death and loss of his spirituality and makes him a Windigo.
Wemsitikishiw culture breaks Xavier’s life and almost kills him, but it is his culture that rescues him and gives him his life back. Wemistikoshiw culture takes a beloved one from Xavier: his only friend, his culture, and makes him an addict to morphine. Xavier kills Elijah who is his only friend because of Wemistikoshiw culture. Wemistikashew culture makes Elijah a wendigo and it teaches him how to do all the actions that a wendigo is doing: Scalping German soldiers, hunger to kill German soldiers and breaks trusts of his friend Xavier. Xavier states, “Before he leaves a corpse, Elijah tells them he has taken to opening each man’s eyes and staring into them, then closing them with his calloused right hand, letting a spark of warmth accumulate deep in his gut each time that he does it, nothing the colour of the iris, knowing that he, Elijah is the last thing that each will see before being placed into the cold mud” (200). This passage demonstrates how Elijah is hungry to kill and takes the spirit of Germans. Xavier who has a very kind heart ends up killing his one and only friend and this because his friend clearly says he wants to take the spirit and kill as many people as he can like a windigo. Xavier states, “I squeeze it hard and the words from that letter come back to me then, Niska. Do what you have to. Elijah doesn’t struggle anymore. Just stares up at me. “You’ve gone mad. There is no coming back from where you’ve travelled. I press down harder. He tries to whisper words to me but I know that I cannot allow Elijah to speak them. I must finish this. I have become what you are, Niska” (Boyden 371). Joseph Boyden shows native lore, Xavier becomes a hero by defeating the evil that corrupts the body and mind of his best friend; Elijah releases from the Wendigo that taints his being, and his suffering stops. On maintaining religion in family values, culture, and bravery, Xavier defeats the forces that possess in Elijah. due to the fear, psychological harm, and loss of culture, Elijah provides into the desire of the Wendigo. Elijah turns into a Wendigo through cultural rejection, and addiction, Xavier becomes a Wendigo killer, and release Elijah from disorder by ending Elijah’s life. xavier fulfills his destiny as the last Wendigo killer through ending Elijah’s life; Elijah becomes a Wendigo and meets a destiny of death.
Xavier is now addicted to morphine and without morphine, he thinks he can not live, he will die. Xavier considers Morphine as medicine for himself or even though more than a medicine. Niska states, “he will struggle first, and the pain of his leg and his arm and the pain in his heart will kill him and he does not want me to be sad when that time comes” (289). Xavier clearly claims he can not live without morphine he accepts Wemistikishew’s medicine as a heal for his wounds. He is aware of what is happening to him because of Morphine but he is still using it and he thinks he will not be able to live without morphine. He knows that what happens to Elijah and what morphine makes him, but still he is considering morphine as a medicine. Xavier complete his destiny as a Wendigo killer delivering Elijah from evil; Xavier returns home and finds release in family values and spiritual healing
Niska who is a woman true to her culture and never leaves her culture which results death of her father, going to residential school and her rape by Frenchman, and losing her nephew. Niska loses her father just because he is true to his culture and who did what he should do as a windigo killer and leader of his nation, he kills two wendigo because the ate flesh of a human and they were gone too far that far that no one could bring them back, but wemistikoshiw people do not understand him and kills him in an indirect way so people do not blame them for his death. Furthermore, Niska is thrown into the residential school where people are treating her like an animal and abusing her but it is her mother that rescues her. Niska who does not want to be in residential school or does not want to leave her family and culture is forced to be in residential school where she is abused and also she is not treated like a woman. Niska narrates ‘When I was caught speaking my tongue, they’d force lye soap into my mouth and not give my anything else to eat for days’ (92). This passage clearly states how Wemistikoshiw people in residential school abuse her even though she is just a young girl it does not make any changes in their behavior. Niska says, ‘When the children came back, they were different, speaking in the wemistikoshiw tongue, talking back to their parents, fighting and hitting one another, crying in the middle of the night for no reason’ (92). Niska knows what is happening in residential school because she does not want to go there but wemistikoshiw people force her to leave her culture and learn and know about the god and Wemistikashew culture. In addition, Wemistikoshiw and even though her own Nation’s people treat Niska like an outsider. She is the hookimaw or leader of her group and she can see the future but it does not matter and they still hate her like an outsider. In the Moose Factory, they old lady states, “They think you are a witch and a heathen and say you must leave here now or you will meet a violent end” (Boyden, 296). This Passage demonstrates and clearly shows how her own people who are affected by Wemistikoshiw culture treating her. It is not just Niska that Wemistikishew culture affects her personality, it is all the people who are living in a Wemistikoshiw environment. These people call her leader a witch and think she does not belong here. Niska faces a lot of problems and a lot of people want her to leave her culture and lose her power. For example, Niska loves Frenchman, but he just wants her to leave her culture and lose her power. He tells Niska that I took your achak and I took your power and now you will go to hell (a place she never heard before). Frenchman rapes Niska and then he makes fun of her and tells her how he rapes her. He wants to show her how cheap she is in front of him and how little respect he has for her. Niska narrates, how he condescends her: “I fucked you in a church,” … “I fucked the heathen Indian out of you in this church,”… “I took your achahk,”… “Do you understand? I Fucked your achahk, your spirit, Do you understand that?” (Boydon, 174). Finally, Now that Niska already faces a lot of problems and wants to be close to her culture people are not letting her to be close to her culture and wherever she is walking or passing through people are talking behind her and she is this much powerless that she can not reply to them. She just ignores them and continues her walking. Niska states, “For the first time since I was a young woman, I walked openly on the streets of that place. Just as years before, the people stared at me. Cree and wemistikoshiw alike talked about me as soon as my back was to them”… “I ignored them best I could.” (Boyden 295). Therefore, Niska a woman who is true and honest to her culture faces a lot of problems because of Wemistikoshiw culture and people. She loses her father, Frenchman rapes her, and she is a force to go to residential school by Wemistikoshiw people and culture, but she never leaves her culture and she always sticks to her culture as true hookimaw for her nation and group.
Three Day Road illustrates how cultural integrity empower some characters to overcome oppression while the loss of spirituality inevitably results in the annihilation of others. Firstly, Elijah rejects the teachings of his culture and he himself is in corruptive forces and loses his sense of identity by rejecting his true self. Elijah is mistreated, abused and taught that his culture is lower in rank and wrong. Elijah becomes the Wendigo as he commits unjust killings and worships himself as a superhero. Secondly, Xavier raises and teaches about his culture. He accepts, values, and supports his cultural identity and fights against the corruptive forces. Xavier completes his destiny as a Wendigo killer delivering Elijah from evil; Xavier returns home and finds release in family values and spiritual healing. Lastly, Niska a woman who is true to her culture and never leaves her culture loses her father and Frenchman rapes because they do not want someone to be true to their culture.
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