Monthly Archives: March 2015

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.            <           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.                                                          <>.

“Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel.” – Orthodox Church in America. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.                    <>.

“The White Paper 1969.” The White Paper 1969. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.                                                 <              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.

“Frank Slide, Alberta”. March 09, 2015. Web.

“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.