It’s delovely, it’s dynamic, it’s De Soto

If you can’t tell from my title I am concentrating on the allusion of the De Soto car that Eli and Karen take to their first and last Sun Dance together.

I believe that the allusions involving the De Soto the car are extended to it’s namesake Hernando de Soto. Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer who lived from 1496-1542 who made his first sailed to the New World in 1514.

Eli says that while he sat on the bumper of the De Soto he “watched the world turn green and gold and blue” (202). This is how Hernando de Soto approached the New World. Hernando de Soto first came to the New World in hopes to colonize Florida. In other words he came to the New World to get more land for Spain … for more green.

Later de Soto would travel from Florida into Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi in search of gold.

Okay, so I’ve mention the green and gold that Eli mentions seeing, but what about the blue. What is the first thing that you think of when someone mentions the colour blue? If you said water, that is exactly what de Soto found.  De Soto was the first recorded European to have crossed the Mississippi River.

So now the colours that Eli sees make sense, but what does de Soto have to do with Aboriginal Peoples and why did King place him in Green Grass Running Water?

Along with his explorations de Soto was also known for terrorizing any and all Aboriginal Peoples that can into his path. Like many explorers he is known for the “good” that he brought to the history of the New World, and the terror that he brought to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada is hidden in the background. So like the de Soto that Eli drives at first it appears that it is “floating over the landscape like a bird in flight” (201), but later Eli sees that it becomes an entirely different car that leaves behind a “huge towering dust plume [that] rose off the road into the night sky” (201).

Eli says that if he were to get a car he would want a De Soto. Knowing the history of de Soto the person I find this intriguing. Does this mean that he want to get rid of all his cultural background? Once he leaves for Toronto he spends much of his time trying to  stay away from his home. Norma seems to indicate this slightly when she looks at the De Soto and shakes her head (203). I interpreted this as her disappointment. A disappointment that Eli is not embracing his culture and is instead trying to distance himself or even go as far as to kill it as de Soto did.

I find it amazing that I was able to find so much that King was able to allude to that concerned a car that only appeared in the novel for 5 pages. I can’t wait to see all the other seemingly small allusions that people have extended!

Assigned Pages: 200-220

If you are wondering about my title I got it from a 1957 De Soto ad.


The Falling of Woman

Everybody knows that story of how God created the world. It seems to be almost essential to know this story to understand a large quantity of literary pieces throughout history. As seen in our extension exercise last week, ‘A’ brings up thoughts on Apples which lead us to think of Eve and the ‘mistake’ that she made that caused the ‘fall of man’.  Yet there are other creation stories in history. The story of  Marge, the Curious Woman involved the fall of (wo)man. The creation of earth began with the fall of Marge. Now this fall was not a fall from good; obeying God, to bad; eating from the Tree of Knowledge, but was a literal fall. It was a fall from an ancient world into Earth, yet it was still a fall and it was a woman that caused this fall, similar to the story where Eve causes the fall of man. King also takes the literal falling of man in the stories of the four women. He seems to mix these two stories by having First Woman fall from the sky and float on grandmother Turtle until she finds the garden that God created.

Unlike the biblical story of Adam and Eve, woman plays a positive role in the creation of the Earth and humankind. It is ‘Marge’ who convinces the sea animals to dive deep down in search of mud and it is Marge who gives birth to the twins that help shape the mud and add trees and rivers. In the story of Adam and Eve it is God who creates Adam and Adam who has his rib taken to form Eve. Even in the title ‘Adam and Eve’ it is Adam’s name that appears first. Do you ever hear someone talk about the story of Eve and Adam? No. It is always Adam and Eve. This creation story begins my setting up our world as a misogynistic and patriarchal.

The creation story of Marge instead begins the world with a woman. In a way this makes more sense to the way that children are born today. We do not start out with a man who births children, as Adam seems to do when Eve is created, but rather see Marge giving birth to children, the same way that females have do in every species. It is also not a punishment to Marge that she is pregnant and has to go through the ‘pains of childbirth’, but rather something that is natural. It is not even something that she constantly worries about, but instead focuses on her hunger or her curiosity.  Today becoming pregnant is usually seen as a good thing, completely reversing its intentions in the story of Adam and Eve, where childbirth is meant to be a punishment to Eve for disobeying God. The creation of people in the story Adam and Eve was a punishment to Eve, not something of creativity and fun as it is portrayed when people are created out of mud in the story of the Curious Woman.

The Mistakes That We Make

As I flip through my copy of Green Grass Running Water every few pages there seems to be a post-it note.  I am not too familiar with historical figures and writers, so each time a new name came up in the novel, I took a note of it and tried to look it up online. I found it like doing a search and find. I was given the name of the allusion and had to go look for what it was alluding to and why that person was important to Canada. It is a game that I am thoroughly enjoying.

As I first began to read this novel I was slightly confused with the way that the story was being told. I found it odd to have so many little stories lines that skipped around from not only person to person, but through different periods of time. It sort of reminded me of the movie ‘Valentine’s Day’ where there are multiple story lines that seem to be separate from each other but later show that there are aspects of each that connect them together.

As I was reading I noticed that there seemed to be an emphasis on mistakes and regrets throughout this novel. Lionel feels that he has made three mistakes that greatly altered his life, starting with his ill-conceived plot to get attention by having his tonsils out. His “one little slip” led to a chain reaction that causes him problem after problem. Lionel is a character that shows that the smallest things can change your life forever.

Norma says that it is best not to make mistakes with carpet (8) and Ishmael says it is best not to make mistakes with stories (14). This repetition leads me to believe that King finds mistakes to be an important aspect of not only the novel, but life in general. Even having Lionel admit that he has made mistakes has some importance. He could have said that he had some unfortunate event occur in his life, or that he has had bad luck, but instead he chooses to say ‘mistakes’.   Lionel views his life as a list of mistakes that he has made rather than just a series of events that has led to the life he has today.

In the Bible Eve makes a ‘mistake’ that leads God to banish Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.  King changes this story. Instead being banished from the Garden of Eden, it is First Woman and Ahdamn who leave the garden on their own accord. Eating that apple was not a mistake to First Woman, but something that allowed to her realize that God is a “stingy person” (69) and showed her that she should leave. Both stories have a similar outcome*, Adam and Eve leaving the Garden, yet they are so different.

As I begin to reread Green Grass Running Water I begin to question the definition of mistake. Is a mistake something that you have done wrong as or is it something that you have done that causes you bad luck?

*Note: In link two the Satire of Adam and Eve I am referring to Act 1.

Where is Canada?

Canada to me is also a country that seems to be hidden in the shadows of others. Whether Canada is being controlled by Great Britain or hidden under (well actually above) the USA as a ‘little brother‘. It takes a lot for Canada to get notice, whether it is something good like the 2010 Winter Olympics or the embarrassing riots of 2011. Even in film Canada is hidden. There are quite a few movies and tv shows that are filmed in the Canada, but instead of these shows being based here they are pretending that they are in the USA.

As a shy person I relate to Canada in the sense that I sometimes feel as though I am hidden behind people who are much louder and involved than me.

My Canada is also mixture of the city and nature. It is a place where you can spend half your day in the mall and  the other walking through the woods or on the beach.  It is also a place of multiculturalism. Sometimes I watch movies or read books where people are bullied because of their nationality and I am proud that this is not something that happens in my Canada. Maybe I have just gone to good schools or am in the right generation for multiculturalism, but when I look around everyone is different and no one seems to care that we are all so different, but rather embraces it. I am not ignorant enough to think this is the case everywhere in Canada’s history  (turning down the MS St. Louis and the Komagata Maru, just to name a few of Canada’s not-so-nice incidents in history), but today, in the Canada I live in, seeing so many different cultures all rolled into one country is something I am proud of.

Before I reach my word limit I better talk about my favourite authors ‘in Canada’. When I got to this  in the criteria  I was slightly stumped. Have I read anything by authors ‘in Canada’? Again I came to the conclusion that Canada is hidden behind the vast history and legacy of other nation’s literature so that our literature is hidden in the background.

Because of this I have read very little Canadian literature and what little I have read has been children literature (when I read it I was a child… so does that just count as literature then? Haha!) As a young child my absolute favourite author was Robert Munsch, but I also loved Mordecai Richler and his Jacob Two-Two series. I have yet to read any of Richler’s adult literature, but hope to read something of his soon. I also enjoyed reading Kenneth Oppel and Farley Mowat (who are both fantastic at describing landscapes and Canadian scenery), but again only their young-adult fiction.

As a student I studied Margaret Atwood multiple times but the focus was usually only on her poem ‘Disembarking on Quebec’. I have read her novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ for a class book club, which I found to be interesting. I am also very familiar with John McCrae’s ‘In Flanders Field’, but isn’t every Canadian?  Every Remembrance Day this poem can be heard all across Canada. You can even read a quotation of it on the ten dollar! It is such a wonderful poem! In school I also studied Robert Service and ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee’ which I thoroughly enjoyed.  If you don’t feel like reading Johnny Cash has done all the reading for you here . The video even comes with paintings by Ted Harrison! As I read ‘Green Grass Running Water’, Thomas King is quickly becoming an author that I may add to my favourites list.

That’s all for now!