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  1. Coyote Pedagogy is a term sometimes used to describe King’s writing strategies (Margery Fee and Jane Flick). Discuss your understanding of the role of Coyote in the novel.

Coyote is one of the more intriguing characters in this novel, and also in the spectrum of readings that we have had in this course.  In Green Grass Running Water he is positioned as the creator, or at the least present when the world began.  He plays a pivotal role in the novel, by this I mean he is always present, but often outside of the regular narrative.  I read his appearance as an ‘outsider’ to be King’s commentary on the ignorance of the ‘new spiritual powers’ (western religions) to recognize the pedagogy of the first nations traditional teachings.  Though King challenges this notion with the conversation between Coyote and Dog, and further illustrates when Dog, who refers to himself as god, who asserts that he wishes to be the more important figure.  In paralleling Coyote and Dog, he positions Coyote as the First Nations equivalent of the creator to juxtapose the christian equivalent in god.  You can draw further parallels in the chaos that Coyote has attributed to his actions, and the fact that water, symbolizing great floods, appears wherever Coyote appears.  This appears to be an obvious reference to the biblical flooding that is attributed to the will of god.

Coyote is almost always referred to as a catalyst, and true to form, he is present at the climax of the novel when the dam finally breaks.  It should also be mentioned that the other four characters of note, the old ‘Indians’ choose Western names to identify themselves.  This notion is presented in a manner that shows the adaptability of the First Nations people in accepting and absorbing new and strange structures into their worlds.  In contrast to this, Coyote does not assume any western name, he simply is Coyote.  This sets him somewhat above the rest, if a hierarchy were to be constructed.  Though it appears that his travelling companions at times are annoyed with Coyote, there constant references to his placement during key events in the history of the world actually state Coyote’s claim to be of an ancient race, and assert his importance in creation.  This conforms with the duality that Coyote represents; on one hand he is a pivotal figure in creation stories, yet by his very nature he needs to be handled with care, for his actions often lead to unforeseen events.

Coyote represents the bridge between old and new traditions.  He remains active and relevant in current events as they happen, but at the same time his involvement in the early history of the world is repetitively confirmed.  Coyote is the character that enhances the relevance of the modern narrative in the novel, while still affirming the traditional First Nations belief structures and traditions.


Question 3:


“For this blog assignment, I would like you to explain why it is that Scott’s highly active role in the purposeful destruction of Indigenous people’s cultures is not relevant for Frye in his observations above? You will find your answers in Frye’s discussion on the problem of ‘historical bias’ (216) and in his theory of the forms of literature as closed systems (234 –5).”



I believe that the irrelevance of Scott’s role in the “purposeful destruction of indigenous people’s cultures” lies in the cycle of detachment that derives from the closed literary forms in Canadian writing. Frye speaks of a group of writers that gets their motivation from their own experience, but lacks the tools to translate these into relevant literary works. In a more direct manner, the Canadian authors lack a sense of cultural unity, and are often writing more in the image of European roots rather than their own unique literary identity.


Frye also speaks of the closed, nearly out of touch, nature of the writer’s work. Within this paradigm Scott would be able to lament the decline of the “noble savage” in one instance, than play an active role in legislation that created, in reality, the circumstances of his poetry. Furthermore, Frye is a literary critic, albeit with his own political opinions, but his focus when critiquing Scott would have very little interest in Scott’s political leanings. In essence, the same vacuum that Canadian authors exist in, being disjointed and lacking of plot in their works, would allow Frye to overlook the ‘real world’ work that Scott did in favour of the fictional literature that Scott created. In the same way that Frye says that “Even when it is literature in its orthodox genres of poetry and fiction, it is more significantly studied as part of Canadian life than as part of an autonomous world of literature.” (Frye 216) This would allow Frey to separate the subject matter of Scott’s poetry from the parallels that existed in his political world.

After reading through more than the required 3 blogs, I have come up with a list of common themes that have run through a majority of the stories that I read.  The predominant theme that I encountered was that of belonging.  Home is a place where you were able to be you.  It was where acceptance and understanding was the norm.  In many of the stories I read this was directly correlated with the people, and the many memorable events and activities that took place there.  I did find that in many of the stories that I read, the more stationary the home (ie. long term common residences), the more the stories tended to commemorate the individuals and the events that they shared.  In many cases this led to an association, or in many cases a presence, even in the absence of the friends and family members that the moments were shared with.  In contrast, those that spoke of constant move and change, tended to comment more on the common aspects of home that moved with them from place to place.  This included the individuals, and specific items, that helped them connect with what home meant to them.

The second most common thread was the contrast between the inclusion of home, and in many cases where moving was a common feature in their lives, the exclusion of new cities and towns (the outside world).  This can both be attached to physical items, mementos and the likes, as well as the experiences and personalities that occurred when growing up.

If I were to sum up the general tone of the stories that I read it would be as follows:  Home is the place where personalities were able to develop in a safe and inclusive environment.  The safety led to many positive associations, and the general feeling of belonging.  These aspects were made even more prevalent with increased amounts of moving, or in many cases the struggles of dealing with new surroundings, and different cultures and their ways.  Home is the foundation on which each individual, both personality wise and experientially, is formed.  For those who have had a more consistent place of residence, it became a foundational place to set out and explore the world.  To those who struggled with constant change, or external pressures, it became a place to be.  Somewhere that all was right, and that provide safety, comfort and support in facing their external challenges.


Welcome to my Eng. 470 Blog.

I hope that this will be a stepping stone to a greater understanding of Canadian History through the literature, both imported and developed in this great country.  I have spent many years studying the history of Canada at UBC, but have always been left wanting when it comes to the deeper understanding that literature can provide to the social and political context of any era.

One item that I hope to explore in more detail, and gain a clearer definition for, is what is Canadian literature?  Do you have to be born here to have it be Canadian?  Is it a matter of residing in Canada for a certain period, or at least for the period in which the work was written?  The following link, from a 2013 Globe and Mail article, has caught my eye on more than one occasion, and I hope this subject will be addressed in further detail in this course.

This second link, more current (2015) from the blog site Partisan, tackles the idea about the rise of Canadian literature, as a unique genre, in the late 60s and early 70s.  I also find this article interesting as it juxtaposes the nearly limitless access to literary funding and support that is available today, with the quickly declining, at least ideologically, production of Canadian literature.

I welcome any comments or feedback on this post, and I look forward to a summer of lovely debate!

Whitehouse burningThis particular image is borrowed from the aforementioned blog on Partisan , and is in reference to a Northrop Frye comment that is referenced in that article.

Works Cited:

Smith, Russell, “Why Do We Struggle With What Makes Canadian Literature?” Globe and Mail 2013. Web. May 11, 2016

Marche, Stephen, “What Was Canadian Literature?” Partisan Magazine April 2015. Web. May 11 2016

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