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Borders by Thomas King
Transcript of Borders by Thomas King
Short Story Presentation
Questions and Answers
1. Q: What do the opening three paragraphs suggest about a young women's prospects if she leaves the reserve?
A: The Opening three paragraphs suggest that it is very rare for young women to leave the reserve for no particular reason. Those paragraphs tell us that young women typically only leave if they're chasing after a boy, if they did something bad like sneak out, or if they're pregnant. It's not common for one to leave simply because she found a job.
2. Q: Explain the conflict at the border. Why doesn't Laetitia's mother cooperate with the guards?
A: The conflict at the border is that Laetitia's mother won't say whether she is Canadian or American. When asked about her citizenship, she just says Blackfoot. This is because Laetitia's mother is very proud of her people and she seems to want them to be separately recognized at their own nation.
Questions and Answers
3. Q: How do the guards indicate their understanding of Laetitia's mother's "stubbornness"?
A: The guards indicate their understanding by saying that they would be proud if they were Blackfoot as well, but they need to know which country she is from, she there are Blackfeet on both sides of the border.
4. Q: Why do you think the author has the narrator focus on the guard's guns?
A: The author has the narrator focus on the guard's guns because it is a symbol. The guns are a symbol for the power and the control that the guards at the border have over Laetitia's mom and brother.
Questions and Answers
5. Q: In what order is the story told? Why has the author chosen to tell his tale in the manner?
A: This story goes back and forth from the past and present with flashbacks. The author chose to tell the story in this manner because it gives the reader a sense of what things used to be like and it creates more of a build up to when Laetitia left the reserve and when the brother and mother went to go visit her.
6. Q: How does Laetitia's mother react when anyone mentions American points of interest? Why does she react this way?
A: She acts rather closed minded and almost startled whenever someone mentions American points of interest. She reacts this way because she is a very traditional woman and doesn't like to think of life in a big city.
The story "Borders by Thomas King is about a native woman who has plans of visiting her daughter who is living in Salt Lake City. She and her son go to the border and are asked to give their nationality. Instead of saying she is Canadian, she tells the guard that she is Blackfoot. After the guard acknowledges that she is Blackfoot and asks if she is American or Canadian, she still refuses to tell them. When the guards at the border don't let the native woman and her son onto the American side, it ends up attracting a lot of media attention. After the reporters interview the native woman and her son, the two are able to cross the border and give their citizenship as Blackfoot.
Questions and Answers
7. Q: What does Mel mean when he says, "justice is a damn hard thing to get"?
A: When Mel says that, he is happy to see that Laetitia's mother stood her ground and was loyal to her beliefs. A lot of people don't fight for what's right, and she did, which makes her an inspiration.
8. Q: How does the media play a role in the conflict of the story?
A: The media made the conflict public and made everyone aware of what was going on. Without the media's help, the mother and son may not have been allowed to cross the border at all.
Theme #1: Pride
Theme #2: Personal Identity
The mother - The mother is the cause of the major conflict in "Borders". She is a very headstrong woman with closed minded opinions when it comes to things other than her native community. She doesn't say whether she is Canadian or American while trying to cross the border, thus starting the conflict against the border guards.
Mel - Mel is the kind, helpful and supportive man who manages the duty-free store by the border. The mother and son first meet him when their car is parked in the parking lot and he asks them if it had broken. When he finds out why the mother and son had been stuck in the parking lot, he starts supporting them because justice is a difficult thing to get.
Laetitia - Laetitia is the mother's daughter, who left the Blackfoot reserve when she was seventeen so she could peruse a job in Salt Lake City. She is the one that the mother and son are trying to get into America to see.
The son - The son tells the story through his point of view. He is only about twelve or thirteen and mostly observes the conflict, but he is still a big part of it. He tries telling the border guards of their citizenship when his mother refuses to, but what he said didn't count because he was still a minor.
In this story, there is conflict between the mother and the guards working at the border. The conflict starts when she refuses to give her citizenship as either American or Canadian, and grows when the media gets involved. The conflict is settled when the mother and her son are able to cross the border after saying they are Blackfoot. There is also minor conflict that is hinted at between the mother and Laetitia. Since in the beginning, it shows that the mother wasn't too fond of Laetitia moving to Salt Lake City.
The gun's that the border guards carry are a symbol for power & control. They have power over everyone who crosses the border, especially the mother and her son because they are not co-operating with them.
Another symbol in this story is the actual title, "Borders". It's not just talking about the Canadian/USA border, but it could be a symbol of the border society has against Blackfeet/other native communities.
Point Of View
"Borders" is told from the point of view of Laetitia's brother. The story is also limited omniscient, because the reader only gets to see the story from one character's perspective and we don't see any other character's thoughts.
The Son - Sensible. The son is a sensible character because when his mother refused to tell the guards what their nationality was, he told them they were Canadian because he hoped it would get them across the border.
The Mother - Loyal. The mother is a loyal character because she is very loyal to her native community. She didn't give up and just say she was Canadian, and she stayed loyal to the reserve until the guards finally let her cross the border.
Laetitia - Independent. Laetitia is a very independent character, because unlike most Blackfoot girls who grew up on the reserve, when she was an adult, she left to go to Salt Lake City for herself and her own reasons, not for anybody else.
Mel - Helpful. Mel is a helpful character because he didn't even know the mother and her son, but when he saw them out in their car, he was concerned about them and asked if their car had broken down. He was also a very supportive character, but of how he supported that the mother was staying loyal to her culture and he considered her an inspiration.
There is suspense in the story every time the mother and her son return to the border. The reader doesn't know what's going to happen next, because there is the possibility of the guards letting them through to the other side, but there is also the possibility of the mother getting into serious trouble for lying for not giving her citizenship.
This story takes place in the following places...
- the USA/Canada border, where most of the conflict takes place.
- the duty-free shop by the border, where the mother and son meet Mel and also where the media interviews them.
- Salt Lake City, where Laetitia lives and where the mother and son are trying to get to.
In the story “Borders” by Thomas King, pride is a character trait that can be developed in a character over time. When Laetitia’s brother says “pride is a good thing to have, you know, Laetitia’s had a lot of pride, and so did my mother, I figured that someday I’d have it, too.” Laetitia’s brother believes pride is something you inherit from your family, and he knows it is very important. When the guard asked their citizenship, Laetitia’s mother would reply with “Blackfoot” every single time, and she stayed prideful to the Blackfoot community. Mel has a lot of pride as well. “The manager had a name tag with a tiny American flag on the one side and a tiny Canadian Flag on the other.” This shows everyone that Mel supports Canada and America. When Stella was trying to make a deal with Laetitia’s mother so she could find out her citizenship, she wouldn’t lose her pride then either “My mother stood p and thanked Stella for her time.” Laetitia’s mother stands up for her community no matter what, and is always faithful to them. Pride is a very good trait to have.
In “Borders” by Thomas King, personal identity represents the way Laetitia’s mother wants others to see her as. She is very loyal to the Blackfoot culture and wants to make others believe in their community for their independency. When the boarder guard says “I know that we got Blackfoot on the American side and the Canadians got Blackfoot on their side.” Laetitia’s mother reply with “Blackfoot side.” This shows that’s she feels that the Blackfoot can be their own nationality and that she wont back down or give into something she doesn’t believe in. When talking to the boarder guard, the guard asks “Wow, you both Canadians?” and Laetitia’s mother replies “Blackfoot” Laetitia’s mother will not back down because she stands up for what she believes in