3.3 – Mythical, Historical and Literary Allusions in Thomas King’s Novel

Write a blog that hyper-links your research on the characters in GGRW according to the pages assigned to you (271-287). Be sure to make use of Jane Flick’s reference guide on your reading list.

In this section of the novel, there are many historical, literal and mythical allusions available for analysis. While conducting my research for this assignment, I was surprised at how many allusions are contained within this section of the novel, and it truly made me appreciate King’s narrative technique. Since I wrote on Dr. Hovaugh and Alberta Franklin in my previous blog, I focused on other allusions which required in-depth research in order to understand their significance within the context of the novel.

A. A. GABRIEL – When I first came across A. A. Gabriel I had no idea what his name could allude to. With the help of Jane Flick’s reference guide, I was able to establish a framework for my research around A. A. Gabriel’s character. His name alludes to religious figure Archangel Gabriel, who is considered as one of the messengers of God. King makes this allusion clear with the description on A. A. Gabriel’s business card which reads: “A. A. Gabriel, Heavenly Host” (270). He plays the role of God’s servant as he is the figure who informs Mary about her pregnancy with the son of God.

THOUGHT WOMAN – The role of the biblical Mary is played by the Thought Woman in King’s novel, and she is nothing like Mary. I believe King was influenced by Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony in his creation of the Thought Woman. In Silko’s novel, the reader learns the importance about the Thought Woman to the First Nations culture, specifically within the Pueblo culture. The strength and interdependence shown by King’s character directly correlates with what the mythical definition of the Thought Woman. King’s character goes against the orders of conceiving a child which are given by A.A Gabriel. She finds the strength to go against God’s plan, much to the dismay of God’s messenger.

WHITE PAPER – The card that has A.A Gabriel’s information on it is also an allusion. The first time I read the passage I did not think much of it, but then when I re-read it, I noticed the description of the card as being “very white” (270). This set off alarms in my head because of the opposition of the colonizer vs the First Nations, and i researched this allusion. It turns out that the card represents the paper which Trudeau created that essentially ended the Indian Act in 1969. The refusal of the paper‘s contents by the First Nations people is celebrated by King with the Thought Woman, who embodies perseverance against white oppression.

LONE RANGER, HAWKEYE, ROBINSON CRUSOE – These names are allusions to fictional characters who are not of First Nations heritage. They allude to characters that have a big influence over the culture, as is in the context of this discussion. In the context I researched them within, they are involved in the cultural aspect of the First Nations people as they observe Ishmael and Coyote dancing. The aspect of colonization is present in these characters, especially Robinson Crusoe, as he criticizes the Coyote’s dance: “That’s not the right dance at all” (King 274). His name alludes to the Most Fabulous Hero in All Adventure History! Coyote’s character seems to resemble Friday’s character in terms of his interaction with King’s Robinson Crusoe. In Robinson Crusoe, Friday is depicted as the savage inhabitant of the land who must be properly taught by Robinson Crusoe. In King’s novel, I believe this relationship is brought to the forefront in this scene as Crusoe notifies Coyote that he is performing the wrong dance.

BABO JONES – Researching Babo’s character was the most enjoyable part of the assignment for me because I learned so much about her character that was previously unknown to me. I believe that Babo’s character is an allusion to the character in Benito Cerino,  where Babo is an African slave who leads the rebellion upon a Spanish ship. King alludes to the racial oppression and inequalities with his version of Babo. He illustrates it in this scene when Babo is travelling with Dr. Hovaugh to find the missing Indians. Dr. Hovaugh thinks he is in control of Babo, but little does he know that it is Babo who is in control, as she played a major role in releasing the Indians from the hospital. King shows that not everything is what it seems on the surface with his portrayal of Babo.

BILL BURSUM – I read Lionel and Bill Bursum’s story as being interconnected, and how the white man during this time is showing his perceived dominance by not allowing the minority race to gain further equality. Even though Lionel is Bill’s best salesman, “he had never received a raise in all the years he had worked there” (King 277). I came to discover that Bill Bursum is an allusion to the Bursum Bill created by a senator named Holm O. Bursum in 1902, which essentially took land away from First Nations people and given back to the white people in New Mexico. Fortunately, an up rise was caused by the Pueblo tribe and the bill was defeated.

ELI STANDS ALONE – In the context of the passage in which Eli is talking to his family about finally being home, I think King’s character alludes to Elijah Harper, but in an opposite sense. Elijah Harper was the voice for Native rights as he stood up against the Meech Lake Accord and successfully won. In the sequence of pages I studied involving Eli, he is an outsider to his own culture, and does not have anything flattering to say about the reserves, as illustrated with his interaction with Norma: “The reserve’s not the world, Norma” (King 287). His reluctance to attend the Sun Dance with Karen shows that he is ashamed of his identity or lack of.

Works Cited

Davidson, E. Arnold. Border Crossings: Thomas King’s Cultural Inversions. Toronto: University of      Toronto Press, 1993. Print.

Flick, Jane. “Reading Notes for Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water”. Canadian                 Literature 161/162. Autumn, 1999. Print.

King, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water. Toronto: Harper Perennial, 1999. Print.

“Canton Asylum for Insane Indians.” Canton Asylum for Insane Indians. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.            <http://cantonasylumforinsaneindians.com/history_blog/the-canton-asylum-for-insane-           indians/the-bursum-bill>.

“Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony and the Effects of White Contact on Pueblo Myth and                 Ritual.” Lislie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.                                                          <http://history.hanover.edu/hhr/hhr93_2.html>.

“Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel.” – Orthodox Church in America. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.                    <http://oca.org/saints/lives/2015/03/26/100886-synaxis-of-the-archangel-gabriel>.

“The White Paper 1969.” The White Paper 1969. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.                                                 <http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/home/government-policy/the-white-paper-              1969.html>.


3.2 The Reader’s Guide to Aurality in Thomas King’s Fiction

Find three examples of names that need to be spoken aloud in order to catch the allusion. Discuss the examples as well as the reading technique that requires you to read aloud in order to make connections. Why does King want us to read aloud?

I have gained a deep appreciation for Thomas King’s ability to flawlessly combine the structures of the oral and written cultures in his narrative in Green Grass, Running Water. This novel is a portrayal of oral culture in a written form. There is a combination of the mythical aspect of the oral culture, along with the rigid, structure of the written word. A mix of mythology and reality is persistent throughout the duration of the novel. King’s narrative technique is encompassed by the technique of written orality. Within this novel, King demonstrates the ability to incorporate the fundamental principles of orality into his narrative. After I read this story aloud to myself, the three names that popped out to me in terms of their allusion and meanings were: Dr. Joseph Hovaugh, Alberta Franklin, and Eli Stand Alone.

When I read Dr.Joseph Hovaugh’s name aloud, I could not help but abbreviate it in order to make the allusion crystal clear: Dr.J Hovaugh = Jehovah. His character shows God-like characteristics and it is his cold-blooded attitude along with his self-perceived superiority that makes this comparison so fitting. By reading this name aloud, I was able to understand the perspective from which Hovaugh’s character sees the world from. He has a superiority complex that he demonstrates within his search for the four elder Indians who have left the hospital. In  one passage in the novel, he plays the role of God by declaring that the Indians are dead, and suggests that a death certificate should be made claiming their deaths by “Heart attack, cancer, or old age” (King 47). The allusion associated with the pronunciation of his name shows the ideals of the white settlers that were colonizing the lands of the First Nations people. This is shown by Hovaugh when his car goes missing, and he blames the people of the land: “It’s the country..Look around. Just look around” (King 345). His occupation is telling as he is in a position of authority, and seems to think he is in control of everything, even though King shows this is not the case as Hovaugh really resembles an old man who is set in his own ways, and has a misconstrued vision of the world he is living in.

Alberta Franklin’s name was an interesting experience when I said it aloud. It had the allusion of a place, because i was under the impression that King’s use of “Alberta” was not just by mere coincidence. I did some further research, and it turns out that her name alludes to the location of Frank, Alberta. After finding out this information, I repeatedly said the name aloud, and King’s genius began to make sense. Two words. A pause after each word when a sentence is pronounced. “Alberta, Franklin”. Just like the location, Frank, Alberta. I say this was an interesting experience because of the symbolic meaning behind Frank, Alberta, as it was the location of a devastating landslide that claimed that not only damaged its surrounding territory, but also claimed the lives of many people. Alberta is a character who seems on the verge of catastrophic breakdown, as she cannot decide how to navigate through her world as a woman who wants a baby without the stresses of marriage. She is also similar to a landslide in the sense that her story is intertwined with the lives of those around her, especially Charlie and Lionel. Wherever she goes, they go with her.

frank slide

Eli Stand Alone. Saying this name aloud has a feeling of loneliness associated with it. Eli. Stand. Alone. The words become real objects, and King has us say this name aloud to illustrate the struggle of finding identity. It is extremely difficult for this Eli to let go of the past and move into the modern world. Boundaries between the past and future are not easily penetrable for him, as the boundaries between the oral and literate cultures are for Thomas King. There is a crisis of identity that is evident because the character does not have a last name or a family to which he strong associates with. He is “Alone”. With all the biblical references that are littered throughout the novel, I researched Eli’s name and found out that it alludes to the biblical version of Eli. I was able to find out that both characters are similar in their beliefs, as well as the manner in which they both vanish from the physical world.

Works Cited

Gibert, Teresa. “Written Orality in Thomas King’s Short Fiction”. Journal of the Short Story in English. Autumn, 2006. Web. March 09, 2015.     

King, Thomas. Green Grass Running Water. Toronto: Harper Perennial, 1999. Print.

“1 Samuel 2:27 – 4:22”. New International Version. March 09, 2015. Web. www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+2%3A27-4:22

“Frank Slide, Alberta”. March 09, 2015. Web. http://www3.sympatico.ca/goweezer/canada/frank.htm

“Frank Slide”. University of Alberta. Photograph. Retrieved March 09. 2015.

3.1 Immigration Act 1910

In this lesson I say that it should be clear that the discourse on nationalism is also about ethnicity and ideologies of “race.” If you trace the historical overview of nationalism in Canada in the CanLit guide, you will find many examples of state legislation and policies that excluded and discriminated against certain peoples based on ideas about racial inferiority and capacities to assimilate. – and in turn, state legislation and policies that worked to try to rectify early policies of exclusion and racial discrimination. As the guide points out, the nation is an imagined community, whereas the state is a “governed group of people.” For this blog assignment, I would like you to research and summarize one of the state or governing activities, such as The Royal Proclamation 1763, the Indian Act 1876, Immigration Act 1910, or the Multiculturalism Act 1989 – you choose the legislation or policy or commission you find most interesting. Write a blog about your findings and in your conclusion comment on whether or not your findings support Coleman’s argument about the project of white civility.

The Immigration Act of 1910 was established by the Canadian government in order to control the influx of people entering the country. It was meant to encourage certain types of people into entering the country, while keeping out people who were deemed a nuisance to the well being of the nation. These undesirables were prostitutes, criminals, people with mental illnesses, and others who posed a threat to the social and political well being of Canada. This act allowed for the government to create a set of rules in order to determine who would be able to enter and exit the country. For example, new immigrants must have at least $25 in their possession in order to be considered for entry into Canada. The government took total control of the process of immigration, and they had final say over any immigration cases. Therefore, the supreme courts and other modes of authority did not have the right to overturn any cases. The executive branch of the Canadian government had complete control over who would be permitted residency into Canada. The Immigration Act also brought forward the notion of domicile, which allowed for permanent residency if an was granted stay in Canada for at least three years. It was all in the control of the government to determine whether or not a person would achieve permanent residency, because they had the authority to deport anybody out of the country if they did not fit the government’s standards of what it meant to be a Canadian citizen.

After conducting research on this topic, I believe that my findings do support Coleman’s argument about the project of white civility. A certain type of whiteness and Canadian ideal is portrayed by the Immigration Act, as the government has the inexplicable authority to deem what type of person is ideal to live in the country. They are building a certain type of Canada using their ideals and notions of what a Canadian should act and look like. Racist overtones were present in all of the articles I consulted while researching for this topic. The fact that a group of government executives were allowed to determine which type of people could enter Canada is a deeply concerning issue for me. This act affected generations of different cultures, and I am glad that the Canada I am living in today is diverse with a variety of different races inhabiting this great nation of ours.


2.3 My Oral and Literary Experiences With “Coyote Makes a Deal with the King of England”

In his article, “Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial,” King discusses Robinson’s collection of stories. King explains that while the stories are written in English, “the patterns, metaphors, structures as well as the themes and characters come primarily from oral literature.” More than this, Robinson, he says “develops what we might want to call an oral syntax that defeats reader’s efforts to read the stories silently to themselves, a syntax that encourages readers to read aloud” and in so doing, “recreating at once the storyteller and the performance” (186). Read “Coyote Makes a Deal with King of England”, in Living by Stories. Read it silently, read it out loud, read it to a friend, and have a friend read it to you. See if you can discover how this oral syntax works to shape meaning for the story by shaping your reading and listening of the story.Write a blog about this reading/listening experience that provides references to the story.

This assignment certainly opened my eyes regarding how stories can be interpreted in different ways. I framed my approach to the story around the fundamental ideas that are associated with the oral and literature cultures. I engaged with the story in three different ways: I read it silently, I read it to my neighbor, and my neighbor read it to me. Each experience was valuable because it brought different meanings to the story for me. I had different emotions about the meaning of the story, as well as the words and characters that are used. The oral syntax used by Robinson had a much more resounding impact when I heard that story as opposed to when I read it.

I began this literary adventure by reading the story silently. I was lost throughout the duration of the story and I did not understand what Robinson was trying to do. I had trouble understanding the story right after I read the first sentence: “For a long time, Coyote was there on the water, sitting on that boat” (Robinson 64). I could not wrap my head around this visualization and from that point on I approached the story as a fictional fairy tale. The coyote and the king just did not seem real to me. I realize that I am guilty of what Carlson points out in his article “Orality about Literacy: ‘The Black and White’ of Salish History”, where he states that, “Among literate westerners, historical accuracy is measured in relation to verifiable evidence” (57). I definitely took this too literally as I pictured the Coyote on the boat and realized that there is no evidence of that ever happening. When i read to myself, I approach the text as a historical artifact. I only read non-fiction silently. Any other piece of reading material (anything that is non-fiction) I read aloud to myself.

In “Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial”, Thomas King introduces the idea of Associational Literature. He brings up an interesting point regarding Western readers that i kept in my mind while I read the story aloud to my neighbor: “Non-Natives may, as readers, come to an association with these communities, but they remain, always, outsiders” (189). I began to make sense of the story as I read it aloud and I understood the mistakes I made in interpreting it the first time around. I am an outsider and I should not be able to completely understand the idea of the Coyote and the First Nations culture. However, reading this story aloud had a much more different impact for me. I used it as a performance for my audience. There was one particular passage which I emotionally connected with that was absent when I read it silently: “They just don’t care for them. They just go and claim the land and they just do as they like” (Robinson 70). These words were directed towards the King from Coyote, as he explains the torture that his people go through when the King’s children come to Coyote’s land. I took Coyotes position and spoke these words as I imagined he would have spoken. I truly spoke to my audience from the heart and for that brief moment, I could feel the Coyote’s pain. The words became physical as sound permeated through the air (I highly recommend for you to read this article by Walter Ong, in which he explains the true value behind words) I was able to appreciate the oral syntax used by Harry Robinson.

The meaning of the story had the most influence on me when I listened to it. I did not have any biases or reservations when it came to the story, I just sat on my chair and listened to my neighbor. I looked at everything with a fresh perspective and really used my listening tools. I listened intently to every word that was being said. I did not feel lost anymore like I did when I first read the story to myself. Everything began to slowly make sense. I think being a listener instead of the story teller allowed me dissociate myself and understand the motivations behind both cultures in the story. I understood the value of detribalization in the sense that I took myself out of the story and viewed it from an outsiders perspective. The words finally began to make sense. I began to understand the meaning behind Robinson’s use of the plural. For example, when the Coyote instructs the cook to tell the King that he wants to meet with him, the Coyote refers to himself as “They” rather than “I”: “You tell him, There’s another king that was standing there at the door. They want to see you” (Robinson 69). When I read these sentences, I had no idea what to think, but when I listened to it, I think I understand what Robinson means. The Coyote is not speaking only for himself, but rather his entire nation and culture. He symbolizes the voice for the First Nations people. The Coyote is not an animal, not a single person. The Coyote is the entire community. Every first nations person is the King. Thomas King puts it best when he states that the Assocational Literature that is written by Harry Robinson points “towards the group rather than the single, isolated character” (187). I was able to appreciate the cultural and familial aspect of the listening aspect as opposed to the isolated action of reading the story by myself.

Works Cited

Carlson, Keith Thor. “Orality and Literacy: The ‘Black and White’ of Salish History.” Orality & Literacy: Reflectins Across Disciplines. Ed. Carlson, Kristina Fagna, & Natalia Khamemko-Frieson. Toronto: University of Toronto P, 2011. 43-72.

King, Thomas. “Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial.” Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism. Mississauga, ON: Broadview, 2004. 183- 190.

Robinson, Harry. “Coyote Makes a Deal with the King Of England.” Living by Stories: a Journey of Landscape and Memory. Ed. Wendy Wickwire. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2005. 64-85.

2.2 The Meanings (or Lack Thereof) Behind First Stories

In this lesson I say that our capacity for understanding or making meaningfulness from the first stories is seriously limited for numerous reasons and I briefly offer two reasons why this is so: 1) the social process of the telling is disconnected from the story and this creates obvious problems for ascribing meaningfulness, and 2) the extended time of criminal prohibitions against Indigenous peoples telling stories combined with the act of taking all the children between 5 – 15 away from their families and communities. In Wickwire’s introduction to Living Stories, find a third reason why, according to Robinson, our abilities to make meaning from first stories and encounters is so seriously limited. To be complete, your answer should begin with a brief discussion on the two reasons I present and then proceed to introduce and explain your third reason from Wickwire’s introduction.

First stories tell the reader/listener about the very beginning and how something came to be. In regards to our situation this ‘something’ refers to the land we call home. These first stories illustrate the first relations between the Indigenous people and the European settlers. There is a propriety issue involved with first stories as ownership is attributed to those who tell them. With this sense of ownership, comes obstacles of interpretation. There is not just a single type of story. Since it is being told by a person in a certain way, the individual may have a personal agenda in terms of the way they are performing their story. It is told from their own viewpoint, and particular facts or viewpoints may be hidden in order to shed a positive light on their story. In this sense first stories are manipulative because the listener may not have all the facts to decipher true from false. I view first stories as a type of performance. It is a script which the author/orator tells a story and creates a world with his own words and performance. As Dr.Paterson explains, there are a couple of major issues in understanding the meaning of first stories.

“In the acts of collecting, translating and publishing these stories, the social process of the telling is disconnected from the story and this creates obvious problems for ascribing meaninfulness” – Dr. Erika Paterson.

First stories are a property of the owner. The original story teller is the one who created that specific version of the story and told in a specific time and place, in a manner that is personal to the storyteller. The performance of the story and meaning is only known to him. Once the story becomes translated and published in different ways it loses its meaning. The second version of the story is not performed the same way it was by the original author. It becomes a copyright because it loses all of its meaning behind the performance. In Living By Stories: A Journey of Landscape and Memory, this becomes apparent as well in Harry Robinson’s interactions with Wickwire. Robinson continually tells Wickwire during his later years that he is “going to disappear and there will be no more telling stories” (29). What I take this to mean is that Robinson is not concerned with the idea that he may soon pass away, but that his stories will no longer have meaning because he is no longer telling them. Even after Robinson records his later stories for Wickwire through an audio recorder, and she compiles his stories into a book, Robinson still understands that only he can have the ability to tell those stories. The performance aspect and meaning of the story disappears if it does not come straight from him.

“There exists a serious time gap of almost 75 years…when the telling and retelling of stories…across the country, were outlawed by the Indian act…and the authority of the Department of Indian affairs to remove school-age children…from their families” – Dr. Erika Paterson.

First stories have a mythology and retelling aspect associated with them. They are told to younger generations so these children can learn where they come from and how their land was created. These stories are a fabric of their identity.When Robinson was telling his stories to Wickwire, he felt at ease with the situation because I had the feeling that he felt as it was as if he was telling stories to his own family. He shared his home with her and when he his health was deteriorating and he was forced to visit the hospitals, it was Wickwire that went to his bedside to keep him company (Robinson 19). When Robinson told these stories to Wickwire, he was confident that they would be kept alive for younger generations to learn from. Unfortunately, this was not the case when the retelling of stories were banned in the early 19th century. This posed serious problems for the nature of the true stories because they could no longer be passed down to younger generations. The horrible brutality demonstrated against the Native Indians also did not help the issue as their children were forced out of the families. The link to younger generations was completely cut down. This article further examines the genocide committed against younger children and how the extremely negative impact it had on their families and communities.

According to Robinson, another reason as to why our abilities to make meaning from first stories and encounters is so seriously limited is due to the type of stories that are being published in our collections. When Robinson tells about the stories of historical narratives, Wickwire makes a startling revelation concerning the process selection of certain stories: “the collectors’ goal was to document some overarching, static, ideal type of culture, detached from its pragmatic and socially positioned moorings among real people” (Robinson 22). The meaning of the story gets lost in translation when it is published and edited to fit a certain collection. Wickwire alludes to this fact once more in her discussion of Boas when she wonders if Boas selected a story “as Harry did in my case, to convey a political message – that whites were, and would always be, vistors on Indian land?” (Robinson 23). Wickwire is concerned that the meaning of the stories she has heard have been manipulated in order to convey the message of the publisher. Unfortunately, this is the true nature of first stories and it is extremely difficult to understand the true meaning behind each one.

Works Cited

Paterson, Erika. “Lesson 2.2”. English 470A Canadian Studies. University of British Columbia Blogs, 2013. Web. Feb 06, 2015.

Robinson, Harry. Living by Stories: A Journey of Landscape and Memory. Ed. Wendy Wickwire. Vancouver: Talon Books. 2005. Print. 1-30.

N/A. “Hidden From History: The Canadian Holocaust. The Untold Story of the Genocide of Aboriginal People by Church and State in Canada”. The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada, 2001. Web. Feb 06, 2015.

2.1 Common Values About Home

I would like to thank my fellow classmates for opening up their hearts and sharing their deeply personal stories about their values of home. I read all of your stories and each one was heart warming in their own special way. I have learned the importance about home and how it shapes us to become the people we are at this moment. After reading all of your stories, I have compiled a list of the the common assumptions and values that we share in regards to our homes:

– Family

– Community

– Support

– Memories

– Multiple locations

– Comfort

– Friends

– Support

– Love

– Laughter

– Foundation for growth

2.1 The Story About My Home(s)

Home is where I was raised. It is where my mother and father raised me into the young man I am today. Home is where I took my first steps and said my first words. Home is where I learned about the importance of family, love, and respect. For me, home is in South Vancouver. I grew up on Main Street in South Vancouver, near the Sunset Community Center. My home is not the house I lived in, but rather the community that I lived in. I was raised by everybody in that community. Growing up as a child, my home was my entire neighborhood. I considered everybody on my block my family. Whether it was walking to school every morning, or playing basketball with the other children in the streets, I always felt as if i was at home. When I look outside my house window, I am looking at my home. The people that surrounded me is what made this place my home. The community had a huge hand in raising me. Whenever my parents were not home or during the many instances I had forgotten to take my house key with me, i would not panic because I knew that I was already home. I did not define my home by the physical boundaries that kept me safe. The Sunset community was my home.

For the past ten summers, home has been a small trailer on my family’s apple orchard in Othello, Washington. I love Othello and sometimes I wish I can permanently call this place my home. It brings me such joy to even have the opportunity to write about it. I like to refer to it as the most peaceful place on Earth. The closest neighbor I have in Othello is 10 miles away. Whenever I am at home, I am alone with my thoughts. I consider the apples and trees as my family. The pace of life is much different than that of the city. Everything is quiet and you can hear yourself think. I spend my hours working on the fields and walking around the beautiful apple trees. The best feeling I’ve had is waking up and opening the door to the trailer on a sunny Sunday morning and observing the complete silence that is around me. This is what home is to me. A place where I am alone with my thoughts and the safest environment which allows for me to be myself.

othello apples

There’s nothing like being surrounded by hundreds of your silent, little red friends!

I consider the Ross Street Gurdwara (temple) to be my home too. It is a place where I can be myself and give back to my community. My grandparents started taking me to the temple on a daily basis when I was very young. They wanted me to build a relationship with God as well as learn the values and history of my own culture. The temple feels like home to me because I am surrounded by family every time I enter. We all share a common goal, regardless of our race our religious beliefs. This home is beautiful because it opens its doors to everybody. It does not matter whether you are white, brown, black, purple; or if you are from Mars or Jupiter. You are always welcome to make the Gurdwara your home. Home is about a sense of camaraderie and respect. There are no outsiders in my home. I learned about Sikhism and the importance of treating people with respect. I learned how to conduct myself outside of home and appreciate everyone for who they truly are. I learned not to judge people because everyone has their own story and path they travel in life that is different from my own. Most importantly, it is continuing to teach me the true meaning of home.


Home is not defined by an ownership of property or a physical structure. Home is synonymous with peace of mind. It is something internal rather than external. Home brings comfort and serenity to a person. Home is where you feel most comfortable being yourself. Home is where you can learn to succeed and fail. Home is where you can create, share and experience anything you want to. Home is where the heart is. Home is wherever you want it to be.


My Poem About Home

For the past several years as I have matured as a student and person, I have been wondering about life in the terms of “home”. Where am I from? What nationality do I identify with the most? Why does this question matter to me so much? For me, home is a place to identify with. It is a safe haven, somewhere where I can be myself. I love interacting with different people and hearing different stories from all walks of life, and I would love to think that the entire world is my home. I am trying to get to that mind state, but I am not quite there yet.

In my spare time, I love to play sports and write poetry. I don’t think I am any good at it but it is an awesome hobby that I don’t plan on giving up anytime soon. Sometimes i need to just be locked in a room for hours with pen and paper in hand, and just constantly write, write and write. I love the material and issues that we are tackling in this class, and it has inspired me to share a poem with you. This poem is written from the perspective of an individual who is searching for his own identity and sense of belonging in the world. He is searching for the meaning of home. I hope you enjoy it, thank you for taking the time to read it!

Anonymous by Rajin Sidhu

Among a sea of people,

my existence feels trivial.

In the event of my demise,

should be a tombstone.



No pride to engrave.

What deems a life worthless,

or full of purpose,

this defining feature,

I wish I knew.

1.3 Reign Beau’s Creation

I have a great story to tell you. It is about a boy from the light who stepped into the dark.

A long, long time ago there once was a boy named Reign Beau. He was a jolly little boy, full of life. He had a smile that he carried with him everywhere he went. He was always laughing, and playing with the other children. Reign came from a small area across the other side of the world called Starville. Everything was so colorful and full life in this place! The valleys were green and purple, the sky was always blue, the sun was always bright yellow, and all of the houses as well. Starville seemed like the perfect place to live, well, except for one minor detail.

You see, in the middle of Starville there was a big white house with nothing else surrounding it. It seemed out of place in such a beautiful part of the world. Everyday when Reign would go to play with the Unicorns, he would skip by the house, curious about what was in there. All of the other children paid no attention to the home and they never had the urge to enter the home. But Reign, well, Reign was different. It wasn’t until one Saturday morning that he decided to enter the home.

When he went up to the front door, he came across a sign that read in big, black letters: ENTER AT YOUR OWN PERIL. Reign read the sign and asked the sign, “What does peril mean? Is that even a word? Don’t you mean pearls?”. At that moment, a thought entered Reign’s head, there are pearls in the house! He quickly turned the handle of the door open, and that permanent smile that Reign always had on his face was transformed into an expression of confusion.

The inside of the house was a blank canvas. Everything was white and there were no rooms, furniture, or any sense of life in the home. Reign walked around the home and in the far left corner he spotted a red and black box. He opened the box and found crayons, rulers, paints, animal figurines, Barbie dolls, action figures, and blocks that were different shapes and sizes. A devilish smile came across Reign’s face as he realized that he was alone in this world with everything at his fingertips. He opened up the black paint and began to color at the top of the of the floor. He only used dark colors when he was painting, and everything he created was nothing that had ever been seen in Starville. After he finished creating his own world, Reign opened the door to go outside and his smile was back because Starville had changed forever.

My Commentary

I told this version of the story to my 10 year old sister.  I changed the character’s name and setting in order to accommodate my listener and have her use her imagination in order to comprehend the meaning of the story. I chose to tell the story in a fairy tale narrative after I read the transcript of Thomas King’s interview with Jordan Wilson in which King discusses the different genres he writes, and process of transition that takes place from writing different genres of story.

The name of the character as well as the setting of the story represents beauty. My tone of voice expressed happiness while i was telling the beggining of this story to my sister. It is the same feeling I got while reading Thomas King’s retelling of Leslie Silko’s story of how evil came into this world. In King’s version, my mood began to fluctuate from happy to sad once the twins were born. To me the twins represent good and evil on Earth. They both have different ideas about how their world should be created. In my story, Starville represents the right-handed twin, and the white house on the valley represents the left-handed twin. Once Reign Beau entered the house, he was no longer a part of the peaceful world of Starville. Inside of the house he was free to create and discover whatever he wanted, even if it happened to be something evil.


1.2 Orality and Scripture = Culture

Explain why the notion that cultures can be distinguished as either ‘oral culture’ or ‘written culture’  is a mistaken understanding as to how culture works, according to Chamberlin and your reading of Courtney MacNeil’s article ‘Orality’.

The notion that cultures can be distinguished as either ‘oral culture’ or ‘written culture’ is a mistaken understanding as to how culture works, because it creates a dichotomy between two fundamental cultures throughout human history that are in essence, one in the same. The written culture abides by many of the same rules from the oral culture. Scripture evolved from orality and has many of its key principles and ideas associated with it. The same goes for oral culture in the sense that it contains ideas that predominantly belong to the written culture.

In If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?, Chamberlin suggests that the idea of written and oral culture “divide(s) the world into Them and Us” (8). He writes about the conflict that this brought in history, and how people created their own communities based on how they communicated with each other. The conflict that struck me “had to do with the babbling barbarians and the written languages of civilized people” (Chamberlin 18). Chamberlin attacks the idea that oral and written cultures are different, and claims that it “encourages people to treat other societies with a blend of condescension and contempt” (Chamberlin 19). Chamberlin argues that written and oral cultures are intertwined with each other, since many oral cultures are “rich in forms of writing” (20), and the trademark institutions that form our written cultures are “arenas strictly defined and highly formalized oral traditions” (Chamberlin 20). Without orality, scripture would not exist. As Chamberlin also points out, “Just as we learn how to read, so we learn how to listen” (Chamberlin 21).

Chamberlin brings the reader’s attention to an Italian pun on “traduttore and traditore. The first means “translator”; the second “traitor”. (Chamberlin 14). I am thankful that this custom is not followed by our society today because even though I am not able to understand the oral culture of this beautiful composition, I am able to read the translation and intertwine both components of oral and written into one culture.

After I fully grasped Chamberlin’s message about the danger that a distinction between oral and written culture presents to our society, I was reminded of a book I read titled The Acoustic World of Early Modern England: Attending to the O-Factor, written by Bruce R. Smith. In the first chapter, Smith explains to the reader that orality can be a “sensory experience” (Smith 6). He argues that speaking is a physical act, because it requires a listener and once a word is spoken, the “Thereness of sound becomes the Hereness of sound in the ear of the reciever” (Smith 8). This physical idea of oral culture makes me think that it is similar to the physical tool of written culture that is used when an individual transfers their own sound (the private words in our brain) to a another platform (physically writing our thoughts on paper or on the computer).

In the article titled “Orality”, Courtney MacNeil agrees that oral culture and written culture should not be distinct from one another. She argues that both are a means of communication and that “oral and textual society need not be viewed from a hierarchical perspective” (MacNeil). The main reason she believes that these two cultures are intertwined is due to the influence of the internet, as well as our society’s immersion into the “multi media world” (MacNeil). She cites Walter J.Ong’s definition of orality and his distinction between primary and secondary orality. She concludes her article by stating that “the study of orality must recognize all means of communication” (MacNeil). Oral culture and written culture both communicate messages in a fashion that is paramount to our history and future, and thus should be recognized as one in the same.

Works Cited

Chamberlin, J. Edward. If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories? Finding Common Ground. Vintage Canada. Toronto. 2004. Print.

MacNeil, Courtney. “Orality”. The School of Media Theory. The University of Chicago, 2007. Web. 15 Jan, 2015.

Ong, Walter. Orality and Literacy. Routledge. New York. 1982. Print.

Smith, R.Bruce. The Acoustic World of Early Modern England: Attending to the O-Factor. University of Chicago Press. Chicago. 1999. Print.