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Through Black Spruce

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Jen Sidoriak

on 7 April 2015

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Transcript of Through Black Spruce

Through Black Spruce
Joseph Boyden
Chapter 11: Sniffing Around
Chapter 12: My Protector
Chapter 13: I'd Leave This Place, Too
Chapter 10: Blue Tarp Teepee
Chapter 14: Frozen Suzanne
Chapter 15: Nothing Good Can Come From That
Chapter 16: Butterfoot
Chapter 17: The Spider In the Room
Starts off with Annie in Toronto talking to Old Man
Annie asks about Painted Tongue and is very judgemental of him
Old Man tries to convince Annie of the good reasons for being with Painted Tongue, he foreshadows their relationship together
Annie smells a familiar smell of goose cooking
Painted Tongue hands out the food in a traditional way
Annie is losing her roots, the goose is a reminder of her culture
She learns some information about Suzanne
The chapter ends with the attempted rape on Annie and Painted Tongue killing the man who did it in order to protect her
Begins with Will feeding his bear friend
The bear is significant to the loneliness felt by Will
Will recalls his experience from the residential school
This event changed the way Will viewed his father and made him question his view on heroes
Marius sets fire to Will's house
Marius seriously wants to inflict harm on Will
This action is very harsh because Will's family died in a house fire
Will seeks revenge to protect himself and his family
At the end of the chapter, Will heads into town and meets three boys that work for Marius
Will foreshadows the shooting of Marius by telling the boys to "tell your boss that he will not feel the bullet that explodes his skull" (p. 99)
Last line of the chapter is also a foreshadow to the actions and consequences yet to come, "this change, though, it wasn't good and the problem was, it had only just begun" (p.99)
starts with Annie having one of her seizures and worrying about her sister
compares Suzanne with being frozen
"And still my dreams of my sister are of her pretty face frozen. Like by a camera. Her sad eyes, the mouth set and saying nothing. It's Suzanne's eyes that tell her story. They are the eyes of our family."
-pg. 124
Their family and Cree people live very hard lives and have been through a great deal of pain
jumps to Annie and Gordon in Moosonee, back to Montreal
Annie and Gordon bond and plan to meet Violet
Annie finds the 'club life' ridiculous at first and is almost disgusted by her sister's friends
She meets DJ Butterfoot
Chapter ends with her leaving the club frustrated, but with her protector by her side
Themes and Connections
The Effectiveness of the Narration
List of Cree Words
Anishnabe (p.114): it is the name of their group
ashtum (p.93): come
Gitchi manitou (p.155): it is known as “The Great Spirit”
kookum (p.97,135): grandmother
manitou (p.160): a spiritual and core life force; it is omnipresent and can appear anywhere (animals, trees, plants, etc.)
mona (p.82,92,93): no
moshum (p.97): grandpa
nootahwe (p.93): father
sagabun (p.84): a type of dish cooked using geese
tikanagan (p.92): a baby carrier
wachay (p.121): “welcome” or “hello”
wemestikushu (p.93,118): a white person, the white people
Annie introduces Gordon to her mother.
She goes to visit Will in the hospital, where she continues her story of what happened while she was in away from Moosonee.
After the attempted rape, Gordon took Annie back to old man, who urges her to continue on her search for her sister.
Annie and Gordon go to Montreal to visit Suzanne’s agent, she finds out they have not seen her in a few months.
The agent gives Annie the money from Suzanne’s last shoot, and before she leaves suggests she might try modeling.
Annie is insulted by his suggestion, and completely ignores it
She gets him to tell her where she might find more people who knew Suzanne.
The chapter ends with Annie leaving Will’s bedside and going back to her mother’s house where Gordon is waiting for her.
The chapter starts with Annie drinking wine and talking to Gordon about her uncle in her cabin.
She becomes drunk and wants to ask Gordon if he thinks Suzanne is alive. However she becomes scared and asks if he wants to kiss her instead.
They kiss and things starts to escalate, but Gordon stops her before anything else can happen. It shows how he doesn't want "their first time" to be a spur of the moment, he wants it to have meaning. This makes Annie extremely angry (it shows her vulnerability).
Annie goes to visit her uncle and reveals to him that Suzanne left because she had good intentions, but it didn't work out. She also says "Suzanne was no angel" (p.145).
Annie and Gordon go to a club (the juxtaposition to Chapter 14). She realizes the people who are there are all the same. They need to be a part of the crowd.
She gives Gordon some money and he goes to the bar. Annie meets up with Violet and her friends. Violet introduces Annie to ecstasy.
While she is high, Annie understands why she lives by the river in Moosonee. She wants to explain this revelation to everyone.
Annie meets Danny for the first time, but very briefly.
At the end of the chapter, Gordon is extremely drunk and disappears. Annie and Butterfoot speak briefly about Danny. Butterfoot hails a taxi and Annie (still drugged) tells him that they will be lovers. This foreshadows that they will develop a relationship however Butterfoot's name also shows that it won't work out.
Will is frightened to leave his house after his encounter on the bridge.
Dorothy calls to ask Will to dinner out of concern for his safety.
They talk about Will’s encounters with Marius, and how dangerous he is.
Will tells her about the bear, and she tells him why her husband left.
When he arrives home, Will is suspicious because his back door is open. He sneaks around the house until he sees the visitor is his brother Antoine.
Antoine warns Will that he can feel trouble coming. Will goes for a run the next morning and is followed by a car.
On the way back the car speeds up and the person in the passenger side hits Will’s leg with a baseball bat.
The chapter ends with Will lying on the ground, wood splinters in his destroyed leg.

Mornings so early the sun wasn't up yet I'd go out for a jog, my rifle bouncing on my back. (pg. 112)
The chapter begins with Will talking about his bear and how well it knows him.
He explains that he has started to wait for his bear to show up before having a drink.
Will tells the story of the second time he crashed his plane because of a thunderstorm.
His passengers were a young mother and her two children. Will made a promise to protect them. They are able to escape the storm and fly peacefully. Will even teaches the woman's older son how to fly.
"[...] flying only feels unnatural at first but it is the most natural thing in the world" (p.158).
There had been a thunderstorm and it had created a foot of mud on the airfield. They all survived, but Will sustained severe injuries.
The following quote foreshadows what happens next to Will's family:
" I had the fear bad, though, that I'd made some deal with a
for which I had to pay more than I ever expected." (p.160)
This chapter begins with Will talking about depression and living in a rut
"You learn to find a routine to get you through the days... You keep waiting for something, and then one day you wake up and realize. It is simply the end you're waiting for." -pg. 131
Many references to alcohol and depression as Will develops as a character
He must decide whether to stay in this rut or turn his life around
"Drinking kept me from [depression] and drinking is what dug my rut deeper. But I know now what I couldn’t see then… Marius Netmaker was the one to get me out of my rut.” -pg. 131
After his near-death experience (being beat up by Marius' crew) Will gains a new appreciation for life
Relates with the bear in this chapter because they're both old and helpless
Bonds with Joe and Gregor, but when Will shares his secret about the bear, Joe says, "Nothing good can come from that," knowing he's changed
First person narration allows the reader a better sense of the characters thoughts in a given situation.
The reader gets to see motivations behind the characters' actions.
"I would feed that bear every night, and I would make friends with it. I'd give it something it had never been offered before: the assurance of a daily meal." (pg. 97)
First person narration lets Will's thoughts explain his reasoning, instead of leaving it at him starting to feed the bear. He thinks, "What do they know of elders scraping by each day and starving? ...Are the forced to live near a dump and go through the dirty diapers and broken tables and refuse of humanity trying to find the scraps that are left to them?" (pg. 97)
Will's rifle is a sign of his caution and the danger he knows is around him. He feels that there are very few other people he can rely on, and while on his runs he can rely solely on himself.
The rifle is also a symbol of protection. Not only is it a weapon, but his father carried something similar, and it is a reminder of the protection of his family along with the days when he had been a hunter.
In this chapter Will seems to be adjusting to what is the new normal for him.
He goes running in the morning
He goes on a date with Dorothy and seems to have a great time
He spends some time with his brother, Antoine
Will seems to start to settle into complacency, until Marius' gang forces him out of it by attacking him again.
Annie starts to see some of the modeling world that her sister was immersed in.
She encounters her sister's agent, who does not seem to care much for Suzanne beyond her being a good model.
At this point, Annie has no interest in becoming part of the business herself, only wanting to find out what happened to her sister.
She is disgusted by the attitudes of both the agent and his secretary, treating her as a piece of meat.
"He will probably not see you without an appointment or portfolio, but if he does, he will tell you to lose another ten, fifteen pounds. He will tell you, maybe to style your hair in a different way."(pg. 106)
"The bear slayer has softened around the heart." -pg. 135, Gregor
Will accepts the pain from his leg, lets his anger fuel him
Still worries about Annie, realizes how alike they are
This chapter introduces themes of the impacts of a corrupt police force
Will doesn't tell the OPP officers about Marius when he was attacked
Marius believed that Will was the officers' confidential informant when really it was Lisette
Chapter ends with Will lying to his sister to protect her
Themes and Connections
Female First Nations Struggles
Streets are very dangerous for any woman, increased dangers for First Nations women
Large number of unsolved female homicides and missing persons in the community
164- 1 181 unsolved missing cases and 1 017 female homicide victims ( RCMP, 2014)
categorized as "unknown" or "foul play expected"
Up to family members to seek the truth
Loss of Identity/Culture
Police Corruption
Residential Schools
Recall serious historical event using Will's memory
objectives were to remove and isolate children from their families and cultures and to assimilate them into the dominant culture ( Hanson, 2009)
Harsh and cruel methods, disgraceful living conditions
Children were underfeed, beaten and sexually abused
Surviving children suffered from depression were diagnosed as suicidal or committed suicide
Many children resented their parents for giving them to the schools
major example of loss can be seen through Will's memories of residential school in Chapter 11
But there are more subtle events in Annie's life as well
goose taste different in Toronto than up North (metaphor for First Nations people in the city)
city life is more vicious and cut-throat
universal theme, in small towns
Will knows about this corruption of the police force because of Marius
Lisette talks about this corruption:
"rookie cops only come here only to cut their teeth by arresting drunken Indians on Saturday night streets, who bully gas-huffing kids, who get bored quick in our town, decided they were on to something that would get them noticed by their superiors…” -pg. 139
police would rather take credit for bigger cases (drugs, gangs) rather than find missing women
pg. 81-160
Full transcript