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Borders by Thomas King

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on 30 May 2014

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Transcript of Borders by Thomas King

The main setting of the story is at the U.S. border crossing at the village of Coutts Alberta. This is where Laetitia was last seen before leaving for Salt Lake City.
We can infer that this place is not very pleasant or appealing. The name “Coutts” is described as “abrupt and rude” by the author.
Coutts Alberta is known to actually be one of the busiest border crossings in Western Canada with numerous restaurants with a total area of 98 hectares.
Coutts is a very old village, according to google it has served for “over 100 years as a border crossing”.
we can say that Coutts is a town whose population would mostly be seniors and adults as it is a known transportation hub. (people do not usually settle down in transportation hubs, they only pass through and use the amenities as a rest stop) another example of a transportation hub would be Halifax; shipping industry.
The Coutts border crossing duty free store is where the mother and the boy park their car each night after being turned away from the border.
This story does take place in modern times as 1. a judicial system which separates countries is already established and 2. The woman is driving a car.
Coutts, Alberta is the main location for the short story and the only time at which the story does not take place in Coutts is during the resolution when the mother and the boy finally are able to go to Salt Lake City.
Point of View
Dynamic characters: Laetitia is a very dynamic, headstrong about leaving the reserve as it does not interest her sufficiently, nor does it appeal to her like the city. But at the end she becomes tired of the city and chooses to return to the reserve after being visited by her mom and brother.

Static characters: The mother is a Static character, she never once denies her identity no matter how many times she is pressed to choose either Canadian or American. The boy as well is also a static character, he has only one goal; to get across the border and visit Salt Lake City.

Flat Characters: Lester Tallbull (Laetitia's ex-boyfriend) not much is mentioned or revealed about him apart for a few facts.

Round Characters: The mother, Mel, Laetitia, and the boy are all round characters.

"Borders" is a first-person story told in the perspective of Laetitia's younger brother

Is told from a "limited omniscient" point of view since the reader is aware of only one character's thoughts
"I was disappointed. I hadn't seen Laetitia for a long time, and I had never been to Salt Lake City." (50)

Laetitia's brother is presumably a child, giving the story a sense of an "innocent eye" perspective
"It would have been easier if my mother had just said 'Canadian' and been done with it, but I could see she wasn't going to do that." (49)

Man vs. Man
Laetitia's mother disputes with each individual border guard
Rather than giving in and ignoring the flaws in the system, her persistence keeps the conflict present
"It didn't take them long to lose their sense of humour, I can tell you that. The one guard stopped smiling altogether [...]" (50)

Man vs. Society
The author is trying to raise awareness of the society issues the First Nations battle
Society refuses to accept the Blackfoot nation as their own
"I'd be proud of being Blackfoot if I were Blackfoot. But you have to be American or Canadian." (52)

Laetitia's immense pride drives her to fight for justice
Though this story in centered on Laetitia's mother's battle of identity, she alone is not the only one who undergoes such unfairness
Her perseverance ultimately has the conflict resolved
"He [...] told my mother that she was an inspiration to us all." (56)

Symbolizes power and control
The border guards have power over those who pass through
"Her gun was silver. There were several chips in the wood handle and the name 'Stella' was scratched into the metal butt." (50)
The government and society have hold over the First Nations
" 'Thank you,' he said, his finger patting the butt of the revolver. 'Have a pleasant trip.' " (55)
A gun puts the threatened person in position of weakness

Refer to the physical boundaries that separate Canada and America
"The border was actually two towns [...] Coutts was on the Canadian side. [...] Sweetgrass was on the American side." (48)
Refer to the borders between the First Nations and the society around them
"Then we got back in the car and drove to the Canadian border, which was only about a hundred yards away." (50)
The border guards, representing the way society thinks, disregards the Blackfoot nation, placing limitations on the way people choose to identify themselves

Protagonist and Antagonist
Laetitia's mom as she is the character who faces the struggles of identity and is challenged to overcome them.

Society in general as they treat First Nations as the minority and forces them to admit they are part of a nation they don't belong to
These actions done by society are represented by the individual border guards

Borders by Thomas King
Literary Devices
Simile: "She had not, as my mother liked to tell Mrs.Manyfingers, gone after some man like a balloon or a string." (46)

Hyperbole:"...to chase rainbows down alleys."(46)

Metaphor: "We got postcards from Laetita regular. and, if she wasn't spreading jelly on the truth , she was happy."(48)

Irony: "She found a good job and rented an apartment with a pool." "And she can't even swim, my mother told Mrs. Manyfingers(48)

Allusion: "You would expect that Sweetgrass which is a nice name and sounds like it is related to other places such as Medicine Hat...would be on the Canadian side and that Coutts which sounds abrupt and rude would be on the American side..."(48)

Simile: "Slowly as if she were trying to see through a bad storm or riding high on black ice."(49)

Pathetic Fallacy: "...watched the prairies move in the sunlight."(49)

Simile: "...swaying back and forth like two cowhands headed for a bar or a gun fight."(49)

Hyperbole: "Nothing but blondes in the whole state."(51)

Irony: "...an Indian without a country."(54)

The main topic of the story is aboriginal rights and how aboriginals are being denied their identities in our society today. They are being asked to conform to our laws and regulations when it should be us conforming to their laws since they were to first to acquire the land before we settled. The author is very cross with how aboriginal people are being denied for who they are and that they must either choose to be "Canadian or American". The author chooses to set the story in a small village by the name of Coutts located in southern Alberta. The name Coutts is very effective to associate the tone with because it's name sounds "abrupt and rude" which is how the author feels towards how aboriginals are being insulted by having to deny their identities. Whereas, if the author had set the story in a city such with a name like "Sweet grass or Medicine hat" he would not be able to voice his opinion as effectively.

Citizenship does not define oneself. Your identity come from within and how you chose to identify yourself
"Canadian side or American side?" asked the guard. "Blackfoot side," she said(50)
"I'd be proud of being Blackfoot if I were Blackfoot. But you have to be American or Canadian."(52)

Don't be ashamed of where you come from. Take pride in your roots, no matter the struggles you may face
"It would have been easier if my mother had just said "Canadian" and been done with it, but I could see she wasn't going to do that."(49)
"Pride is a good thing to have, you know Laetita had a lot of pride, and so did my mother. I figured that someday, I'd have it too."(53)
"Told my mother she was an inspiration to us all."(56)

Accept others for who they are and treat them as equals
" I told him we had nowhere to go that neither the Americans nor the Canadians would let us in."(53)
"Every so often one of the reporters would come over and ask me questions about how it felt to be without a county."(54)
"...justice was a hard thing to get, but that we shouldn't give up."(53)

Analysis by Clementina, Renessa and Vageesh
Little by little the author reveals details about the characters through their actions and how they act in certain situations.
For example, Laetitia is a very dynamic character who is always headstrong in what she does "maybe I will". She is slowly revealed to being one who wishes to follow her own will and impulse rather than listen to what others tell her to do.
When the author goes about explaining how Laetitia had been able to get from the border to Salt Lake City and provide for herself without any help, we can indirectly infer that she is a very independant character.
There is not a single direct characterization throughout the story.
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