Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English & Film Studies

Faculty/School

Faculty of Arts

First Contributor

Eleanor Ty

Contributor Role

Thesis Supervisor

Abstract

This thesis evaluates the literary achievement of Thomas King from an individual Aboriginal perspective by examining specifically his novels, Medicine River and Green Grass, Running Water, with reference to his short stories. It argues that textual readings which merely impose the Western literary tradition upon Aboriginal texts invariably limit their scope of interpretation and understanding. The study of Aboriginal literature necessitates a holistic approach that involves historical, political, and cultural contextualizations.

I note briefly the cultural differences between my own response and non-Aboriginal responses, the latter mostly in the form of reviews, and proceed to analyze issues present in King's texts which I considered culturally relevant. The three topics that materialized prominently in and unify King's fiction are: identity politics, cultural resiliency, and the Aboriginal oral tradition. My consideration of Medicine River includes an exploration of the intersubjectivity of truth and story-telling, whereas that of Green Grass, Running Water entails an examination of: technology's negative impact upon the natural world as well as on the First Nations and their cultures: Western literature and visual media as colonizing agents; and the ways in which Aboriginal re-visions of celebrated texts and stories of the Western literary canon foreground marginalized knowledges. Other related issues include: the image of the "Indian"; King's treatment of Western myths and stereotypes of Aboriginals, and the Aboriginal responses to them; the fictional non-Aboriginal responses and attitudes towards Aboriginal beliefs and customs; the significance of the land to First Nations' cultures: and the politics of land claims. By locating King's novels in historical, political, and cultural sites, this thesis underscores the importance of recognizing race and ethnicity in analyses of Aboriginal texts.

Convocation Year

1996

Convocation Season

Fall