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.