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Three Day Road Presentation
Transcript of Three Day Road Presentation
24 July 2014
Three Day Road Presentation
Author: Joseph Boyden
"I think of Elijah, too, who has become withdrawn and focused and serious since we came here. I see how Elijah's eyes glow, how he is feeding off the fear and madness of this place" (Boyden 26).
Segregation and Discrimination
Canadian literary works, notably war fiction novels, remarkably display the brutality and atrocity of trench warfare. These realistic depictions are evident in Joseph Boyden’s novel,
Three Day Road
. The text effectively incorporates the significant aspects of Canadian literature and also informs the reader about Elijah Weesageechak, a Cree Indian’s corruption due to the brutality of society and war.
Throughout the novel, Elijah gradually develops to become a cold-blooded murderer. Various frightening assertions frequently affirmed in the novel, convey a message of Elijah’s madness caused by the cruelty of trench warfare, the inhumanity of residential schools and his alarming addiction to the pain killers called morphine.
The Cruelty Of Trench Warfare
His Alarming Addiction To Morphine
The Inhumanity Of Residential Schools
The constant abuse and unjust treatment of the residential schools cause Elijah to abandon his heritage and adapt to their cultural ways of living. This abandonment of one’s identity and culture leads Elijah to self-destruction and corruption.
The horrific conditions of war and the constant deaths of soldiers in the battlefields lead Elijah to develop into something inhumane.
The obsessive and irresistible addiction to morphine lead Elijah to escape from the horrific conditions of war and into a delusional world that causes him mental instability and madness.
The Atrocities of War
The text portrays Boyden’s anxiety towards the relentless impact of war on Elijah’s humanity and sympathy. The demoralizing influence of war and the severe horror of trench warfare cause Weesageechak to transform into a vicious killer.
The atrocious environment engages Elijah in this merciless war and forces him to become a sadistic, killing machine with an unquenchable desire to shed blood. Through the course of ruthless events, Elijah develops into a savage and a ferocious soldier.
In the text, Xavier Bird, Elijah’s best friend, illustrates how he treats the dead bodies after an invasion by “opening each man’s eyes and staring into them, then closing them with his calloused right hand (Boyden 200).
The dreadful description provided by this quotation overwhelms the reader with the appalling reality of Elijah’s development into a barbaric murderer. The thrill and entertainment that Elijah obtains every time he stares in the soldiers’ eyes, forces the reader to question whether he possess any moralistic dimensions or a fragment of sanity.
This killing machine also confesses to Xavier that he scalps his victims’ heads after he kills them as a symbol of honour and bravery as he is told by a company of Frenchmen. However, Elijah does not perform this atrocious action for respect and recognition, but for his own entertainment.
“Elijah looks down at the soldier he has just dispatched and thinks of the earlier look of anger on the man’s face… He turns the dead man on his stomach and removes his sharpened skinning knife from its sheath and pulls the man’s hair back and removes his scalp with careful motions as simply as he would remove the skin from a pike. He places the hair in his kit bag, assuring himself that just as some other Indians consider it a sign of honour in battle, this counting coup and taking scalps, he will too” (Boyden 210).
This earth-shattering quotation presents the bestial side of Elijah that shows his inhumanity and cruelty when dealing with the dead bodies. This savage act proves Elijah’s corruption due to the influence of war and the dreadful circumstances that the soldiers have to live in.
Through these distressing statements, Boyden asserts his warnings about Elijah’s corruption and madness due to the cruel conditions of trench warfare.
The Cruel Treatment of Residential Schools
Residential schools significantly contribute to Weesageechak’s madness and corruption due to the deprivation from his family, heritage, language and traditions. Elijah experiences the discrimination and unfair treatment while staying at these schools.
Boyden illustrates that the segregation and isolation from one’s identity and heritage will result in the loss of self and eventually self-destruction. Throughout the brutal events in war, Elijah constantly battles to preserve his customs and traditional values; however, once he is accepted as part of the wemistikoshiw people, he quickly gives in to their traditional ways of living. Residential schools largely motivate Elijah to abandon his heritage and cultural roots.
This encouragement is evident because Elijah “always had a gift for the wemistikoshiw language” through the significant amount of time he spent in residential schools during his childhood where he “learned to walk his way out of anything, gave great speeches so that his words snaked themselves like vines around the nuns” (Boyden 57).
This benefit and gift grants Elijah the superiority and the independence that he craves. He receives the strength, attention and blood lust from the endorsement of the white lieutenants and the influence of residential schools. His arrogance and vanity leads him to boost his self-esteem and lust for killing. Elijah loses all of his ethical and moral aspects that are embodied in his heritage and roots because of the impact of residential schools.
Elijah successfully manages to grab the attention of the other soldiers through his captivating stories and eloquent tongue. He gains his independence and recognition by adapting to their culture and giving in to their ways of living.
His fluent English makes “the others in [their] section drawn to him and his endless stories” (Boyden, 61).
This quotation effectively portrays the influence of residential school’s on Elijah’s mentality and the connection to his original roots and heritage. Elijah quickly loses the sense of belonging to his own culture and decides to join the English people by adapting to their traditions and ways of living.
The author wants to declare that a significant part of Elijah’s madness and corruption is mainly because of the unjust treatments and cultural endorsement of the residential schools.
The Addiction to Morphine
The novel interprets Boyden’s concerns about Elijah’s irresponsible addiction to morphine and its consequences leading to his self-destruction. Elijah continuously abuses this addiction as a way of escapism to a fantasy and a delusional world that numbs his physical and mental sufferings.
Throughout the novel, he becomes reliant on morphine that encourages him to devalue the sacred human soul and continue to feed his blood lust. However, Elijah reasons that it is impossible to continue this war without the intake of morphine.
In a particular event in the novel, Elijah confesses to Xavier in the dugout and reveals to him that “when he’s gone too long without the medicine ... he becomes fragile and headaches cause him so much pain that death seems a good alternative” (Boyden 212).
This earth-shattering quotation proves the influence of morphine on Elijah’s physical and mental state. To the reader’s bewilderment, this life-threatening addiction reaches the point where death makes Elijah’s list of choices.
Elijah struggles to stay away from morphine and confront his battles with all of his senses. Morphine gives him the power and strength that makes him feel superior and dominant and when he does not take it he feels weak and vulnerable.
Weesageechak feels hesitant and powerless “when he doesn’t take the morphine, he is afraid of the world, and that is not a good feeling” (Boyden 212).
The medicine blindfolds Elijah into a gateway of imaginations and illusions that encircles his vulnerable mind and forces him to discard the memories of the horrific war. However, once the medicine is exhausted, Elijah realizes that he must face the terrific conditions of war and the bestial horrors of the world. His strength and indestructibility depends on morphine and without it he becomes vulnerable and helpless.
Boyden successfully portrays this self-destructive addiction as immoral and insane. The author informs the reader that this addiction to morphine will lead to his mental instability and corruption.
A. Restatement of thesis
The author illustrates his apprehension and conveys the dreadful message of Elijah’s madness and corruption through the horrific environment of war and trench warfare, the cruel treatment of residential schools and his unquenchable addiction to morphine.
B. Review the key point
Three Day Road
successfully presents Boyden’s outlooks on the affliction of war, the loss of culture and self as well as the deprivation from humanity and morality.
C. Clincher/universality/recommendation/prediction, etc. end with a thought provoking idea related to the topic in a general and broad sense (similar to lead).
Elijah’s madness and corruption are greatly influenced by these dehumanizing effects that lead to the shocking development and transformation from a free-spirited and a kind-hearted friend to a cold-blooded murderer.
"Elijah still tries to talk me out of it. It is like a game to him, but behind his friendly smile burns an obsession that is frightening. I fear many things in this place. But I do not want to fear my friend" (Boyden 246).
Three Day Road
. Toronto: Penguin Group,
Secondary Sources (Images + Music):
Adams, Bronwyn. “Three Day Road.” Quill and Quire. N.p., 1
Feb 2005. Web. 24 July 2014.
Hickman, Angela. “The Journey Through the Three Day
Road.” War Novels. N.p, 4 March 2013.
Web. 24 July 2014. <http://en11b3dr.blogspot.ca/>.
Varty, Alexander. “Three Day Road - Madness.” Straight.com.
Viking Canada. 28 Apr 2005.
Web. 24 July 2014. <http://www.straight.com/life/three-day-road-joseph-boyden>.