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Magpies

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by

Sasha Duarte

on 16 April 2013

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Transcript of Magpies

Magpies Thomas King In Depth... Thank You Symbolism Literary and Rhetorical Devices Literary and Rhetorical Devices (continued) Themes and Motifs Plot Summary Mood Major Characters The Overview... Held within an Aboriginal reserve, this story is
about a Granny who falls and hurts her leg. When she looks
at her leg, she thinks about dying. She keeps telling everyone that
she is going to die; she constantly repeats it. She says that when she
dies, she doesn't want to be put in a grave because holes are cold. She makes Ambrose promise to be there when she dies. He promises. A few years later, Granny dies but Ambrose wasn't there to see her death. Granny's family said that they weren't going to wait for Ambrose to come home, so they proceeded with the funeral. They buried her in a grave. When Ambrose comes home, he says that he still has the promise he made to Granny to keep. But Wilma says that he doesn't need to keep the promises anymore since God has her now. For weeks, Ambrose keeps bringing up the promise, but Wilma says he makes a lot of promises and breaks them so he might as well leave it. then Ambrose convinced the narrator to help him keep Granny's promise. The promise was to not let Granny be buried in a grave, she wanted to be put in a Heavyshield's tree in the mountain. One day, Ambrose digs up Granny and puts her in that tree. When he is done, the RCMP along with Wilma came. Wilma told the RCMP that Ambrose is a thief for
digging up Granny's body. The RCMP searches the tree but
finds nothing, so they leave. It turns out Ambrose hadn't
dug up Granny's body. He pretended to do it to fool
the others since the suspicion on him was lost,
that night he went to actually dig up
Granny's body and keep the
promise. Granny The type of irony used in Magpie's is situational irony or irony of situation.
Situational irony occurs when one works toward or expects a particular outcome but receives the opposite. This is usually the type of irony we are using in everyday life when we refer to an occurrence as being ironic.
In Magpies, the audience expects a particular ending, with Benny finding Granny's body in the body bag up in the tree. However, when he doesn't Ambrose is not arrested like the audience initially expects, and we are introduced to the fact that Ambrose has cleverly created a plan all along where the body bag will remain high up in the trees, according to Granny's dying wishes, but no one but Ambrose and the narrator will be aware that the promise has been kept.

There is also a constant use of onomatopoeia by Thomas King (i.e. "Good gossips, those. Hahahahaha...")

Imagery is used when the narrator describes Granny's leg after she falls, stating the colours that the bruise change and how she reacts to her injured leg.

Simile: "They smell death, those birds, like you smell chokecherries on the broil."

Repetition: "Big chest. Big legs. Big head." Climax/Repetition:
"So they get a priest.
So they put Granny in a box.
So they stick Granny in the church.
So they throw her in a hole."

"There he is, she says. There is that criminal. There is that thief."

Personification: "Ho, that sun says, what we got here?" Magpies By: Vivian, Ranya, Priscilla & Sasha Warm, yet cold and sombre. This short story gives the feel that the lesson of keeping a promise has come full circle just as each life must undergo the circle of life. Tone Aboriginal storytelling. As we read Magpies, we got the feel that the narrator was verbalizing the story. It was as if he were speaking aloud on their native reserve. Diction Colloquial and informal language. One of the biggest themes in this short story is promises. Throughout the short story Ambrose keeps making promises to his family and friends but he never keeps them. He made a promise to Granny that he would bury her the “right way”, the way she wanted to be buried, but since he did not show up when she passed away, he attempted to “ do things the right way” when he came back. Even the story teller made a promise to Ambrose that he would not say a word of what he did, so we do not actually know if Ambrose buried her “the right way.”
Death is another theme in this short story because, although it is talking about keeping promises and making promises, the story is about Granny dying and the “right way” of burying her.
Gossip is another theme in this short story because they talk about Magpies always listening to conversations and telling others about people’s plans and ideas. This goes well with keeping promises because the story teller promised Ambrose that he would not tell anyone about his plan and that is when Ambrose got worried that the Magpies might have overheard his plan. Magpies are interesting birds with a sense of duality. They have a negative connotation because they are members of the crow family, and are known for being vicious. They peck out eyes of baby animals, known for stealing things and are sometimes found to be very bold with humans. There is a duality among them because magpies are also beautiful song birds and live monogamously. Magpies have various symbolic traits such as tricksters, opportunistic, intellect, perceptive, flashy, refined, communicative, social, deceptive, illusion, expressive and willful. Magpies build their homes in thick V shaped trees. These types of trees are said to be the gateway into the spiritual realm. trees Trees symbolize life and growth. The Druids of early Britain worshiped trees, the Greeks assigned them spirits, called dryads, and individual trees have been seen as sacred by many peoples at different times: the oak, the birch, the laurel, and the yew, to name a few. For Aboriginal peoples, trees are used to create totem poles that serve as a visual representation of historical and mythological happenings. holes Granny tells Ambrose that when she dies she does not want to be buried in a hole, but put in a tree, river or mountain. Holes symbolize darkness, opening and departure into the unknown, which was the opposite of what Granny wanted. A tree, river or mountain symbolize rebirth of life, transition and renewal, and joining of heaven and earth. Thomas King The author of this short story is Cherokee (Aboriginal) and Greek. He evidently shows his background throughout this story which is seen through the various symbols. This shows that he is deeply in touch with his culture which directly connects with "Magpies" because they are trying to keep their culture alive by practicing tradition and keeping promises. Ambrose Wilma Narrator Magpies Granny plays the undying role of ‘Wise-Old-[Wo]Man’ archetype; perhaps a Mentor. In a way, she is also the Herald for she calls the journey that Ambrose must face. Granny is portrayed to be a typical elder of the aboriginal community, devoted to her cultural traditions. From this foundation, a new adventure unfolds for both Ambrose and Wilma as Granny wishes for Ambrose to keep a promise that her body will not be buried when she passes. Her character shares wisdom in relation to the modern world through the old way of life. She uses important symbolisms to share the knowledge she has obtained. With this said, pieces of her are carried away within the other characters. Ambrose is seen as the ‘Hero’ of the story, if there were to be one. He is called upon a task, a last wish that Granny must not be buried in a hole (for holes connote darkness and departure to the unknown) but put into a tree, river or mountain (places which symbolize transition, rebirth of life and joining of heaven). His growth and progress is not seen typically by how much he learns, but rather by the promises he keeps. His job is not only to keep Granny’s wish fulfilled, but more than that his task is actually to keep the dying aboriginal legacy alive- Through fulfilling Granny’s wish, he is able to carry on cultural traditions. His ways, implicitly compared to a Magpie, are torn between the modern world and the aboriginal culture. Like a Magpie, Ambrose cries a “hoo hoo hoo”, portrayed by Thomas King, when he hears of Granny’s death. Magpies are known to create false holes, in order to trick their competitors; Seen in Ambrose way of keeping a promise, he tricks his competitors (Wilma and the officers) into creating a false image that he had taken Granny’s body. Moreover, magpies carry a sense of duality- also seen in Ambrose. Magpies are known to be vicious and untrustworthy, however loved for the beautiful songs they sing. Ambrose, known for unkept promises, is trusted with an important task, for he alone can keep it. With the sense of duality and craftsmanship, Ambrose is a magpie. Wilma, the ‘Anti-Hero’ or perhaps the ‘Threshold Guardian’, stands as a challenge to Ambrose’s promise. For Wilma has fallen into the new modern world, she wishes for her mother to be buried- just like how the new communities do. She really does mean well. It is simply the differences in beliefs that create the barrier between Wilma and Ambrose. Narrator, also similar to a Magpie, is a friend. He stands by Ambrose’s side without judgment or betrayal. He keeps his promises to Ambrose loyally. Like a Magpie, the narrator talks- not a gossip, but perhaps shares his wisdom. The story is told in a way that the narrator is telling a story to a group- almost like it is told orally, like an aboriginal community sits in a circle. This character deployment shows that the aboriginal culture is carried on- perhaps a clue that Ambrose has fulfilled his promise. The narrator not only tells the story, but also unfolds the untold within his character. He carries the personalities of each of the main characters. Magpies, not a specific one, play an important symbol in the story. They are referred to as the good-gossipers, talkers and jokers, as well as vicious, tricky and crafty. A sense of duality is found within Magpies, resonating with the development of each character. ...But who is the narrator?! The narrator doesn't reveal who they truly are so through careful consideration we have narrowed it down to two possibilities:
Another family member or close friend
A magpie BUT HOW COULD THE NARRATOR BE A BIRD? Throughout the story it is told that magpies tell good stories
He didn't actually help Ambrose dig up Granny or put her in the tree
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