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Medicine River Chapter One Presentation

ENG 4C
by

R Gray

on 10 April 2013

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Transcript of Medicine River Chapter One Presentation

Introduction to
"Medicine River" by Thomas King Personal Response Discussion Works Cited Will's childhood The Setting Harlen Bigbear The Letters Thomas King Chapter One: Structure Medicine River "Medicine River" was Thomas King's first novel; it was published in 1990 to much critical acclaim
It tells the story of a man called Will who returns to his hometown of Medicine River, Alberta for his mother's funeral; what he hasn't planned on is being roped into staying in town, thanks to the persuasion of Harlen Bigbear, who sells him on the idea of opening a photography shop all letters begin with: "Dear Rose,"
Most deal with one or more of the following topics:
the weather
guilt
the boys
visits
work
money "Medicine River sat on the broad back of the prairies. It was an unpretentious community of buildings banked low against the weather that slid off the eastern face of the Rockies. Summer was hot in Medicine River and filled with grasshoppers and mosquitoes. Winter was cold and long. Autumn was the best season. It wasn't good, just better than the other three. Then there was the wind. I generally tried to keep my mouth shut about the wind in Medicine River." (1) "Harlen Bigbear was like the prairie wind. You never knew when he was coming or when he was going to leave ... He took on a lot of weight, and the one thing he enjoyed more than helping someone out with their burden was sharing it with others." (2)
" 'If you pass misery around and get everyone to take a piece,' Harlen liked to say, 'you won't throw up from the taste of too much grief.' " (2)
got the letters back to Will after his mother's death breaking into the box where the old photographs & the letters were kept
Will being slapped for reading the letters
the story of how his parents met
having to leave the reserve after his father left them 1. Based on on the letters, what was your impression of Will's father? What kind of person was he outside of being a father?

2. Why do you think Will's mother responded they way she did when she found Will reading her letters?

3. What do you make of Harlen's philosophy: 'If you pass misery around and get everyone to take a piece, you won't throw up from the taste of too much grief.' David, Daniel. "Thomas King, Still Not the Indian You Had In Mind." The Globe and Mail 19 July 2012. www.google.ca. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <http://m.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/thomas-king-still-not-the-indian-you-had-in-mind/article4426067/?service=mobile>.
King, Thomas. "Medicine River". Toronto: Penguin Books, 1995. Print. born in Sacramento, California - 1943
Greek/Cherokee
re: interviews - "I dislike talking about myself. It's boring. I've heard all the stories before" (Globe & Mail article)
re: writing - "If I don't have anything to publish, I don't publish...I don't know if it's written anywhere but if you're a literary writer, and you want to keep your place in the great mandala, you publish every two or three years. I haven't done that...I can't live my life like that." (Globe & Mail article) the chapter jumps back and forth between letters written to Will's mother from his father, memories Will has about his childhood, and a conversation Will has with Harlen one morning at Casey's shortly after he arrives in town novel begins with a 'deadbeat dad' who's left his kids (negative connection to my own uncle)
challenges of the setting (prairie living)
Harlen as a father figure to Will? (caring but also sometimes overbearing)
sympathy for Rose as a single mother (connection to my favourite aunt)
reminder of historical mistreatment of Native peoples (specifically women and children) who lost their status when a woman married a non-Native man
Full transcript