Changes of Cultural Identity Essays

Changes of Cultural Identity Essays

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What determines identity? Dictionaries describes it as, “the fact of being who or what a person it.” However what makes you who you are? Or better yet, what you are? Your name, and the way you look make up the “who”, of whom you are; just the same, religion, culture and beliefs makes up the what. Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road was strongly based on the relationship between Xavier Bird and Elijah Whiskeyjack. It illustrates how their native cultural identity changes throughout the novel and shapes their personal identity into becoming something monstrous. Xavier becomes the person he loathed Elijah for being, and loses his most treasured morals, while Elijah loses all his culture and transforms into the type of being that harmed him as a child. Elijah’s self-identity is shaped through a battlefield setting, not only in war but in residential schooling. He learns to adapt to the new environment in order to survive, while Xavier’s was shaped in a home setting. The differences between the two boys help shape the similarities of them in the end. The three main key factors that differentiate Elijah’s and Xavier’s identity is their respect for Oji-Cree culture, their respect and love for other human beings, and their general personality traits. In the end, the culture of war has the biggest effect on their self-identity and changes Xavier into the monster he so desperately did not want to become.

Raised in an Oji-Cree household by Niska, a medicine woman of Oji-Cree decent, Xavier had an abundance of aboriginal culture in his lifestyle, he speaks almost pure Cree language and knows very little English; only enough to be able to communicate with the other soldiers, which is very little; the white soldiers only accept Elijah. Xavier’...

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...d, although addicted to morphine, he has much more a sense of place and of who he is. He can at least relate his experiences in the war to his present life, with Niska. Elijah clearly tried to assimilate too much into white culture and this caused his insanity and general negative behavior as a result of pressure. The way he responds to situations during the war shows that he responds to pressure in an intense way, and mostly in a way that the whites will approve of, and even praise.

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