Themes In Green Grass Running Water

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Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King is a Canadian novel featuring Native Americans in the midst of their traditions in accordance with the rulers of the modern world in the book, the Whites. Several characters are seen to engulf in a battle with discrimination in an attempt to stay united as a community and find continued happiness in their Native identities. In Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King, the author states that discrimination negatively affects happiness, which leads to the questioning of one’s confidence that in turn has a negative affect in their search of identity. Although this novel’s characters forgo several acts of discrimination, Robinson Crusoe’s Friday discovery of home, Lionel’s realization of his identity,…show more content…
When Crusoe meets Friday, he is joyous for having found someone he could finally make his slave as he had been previously. Although not fully envious of Robinson Crusoe, Friday is found stuck in between two worlds. One, where he thinks of Robinson as his friend and the other where he wonders why he is being treated as a slave, and not for his own personal benefit. Robinson’s views are purely of self-profit as he describes his dreams: “to think that this was all my own, that I was King and Lord of all this Country indefeasibly, and had a Right of Possession” (Defoe 72). This passage explains the belief of Robinson Crusoe in the feudal system and the use of hierarchy to promote bourgeois values upon the populations. The character of Robinson Crusoe then is used in Green Grass, Running Water in a satirical manner when Thought Woman explains to Crusoe that Robinson Crusoe himself would not enjoy his own company as he is seen by the rest of the world as a white supremacist with no place in native land: “But I don’t want to be Friday, says Robinson Crusoe. No point in being Robinson Crusoe all your life, says Thought Woman. It wouldn’t be much fun”(King 295). This proves that Friday was never a true friend to Crusoe when he also states: “[...]it has been difficult not having someone of color…show more content…
Although Lionel’s character is portrayed as passive and utterly disengaged in his work, he is disinterested and unhappy by mentioning: “Way things go, I guess” when asked about his daily job and life (King 80). King presents the discrimination against Lionel’s own culture when he speaks of Lionel’s need to be white. When the novel states: “That’s what you did when you began again. That’s what John Wayne would do”, the author emphasizes upon Lionel’s changing life, with a sense of discrimination for his heritage and a welcoming to the White culture (King 243). Furthermore, the identification of John Wayne is repeated in the novel to be Lionel’s definition of an ubermensch, the ultimate symbol of a White male, and to describe Lionel’s drive to be more like this character. To add, when Lionel receives the jacket on his birthday and feels its warmth and comfortability, it becomes a symbol of the white culture as Lionel tries on the jacket and Eli says: “You know, you look a little like John Wayne” (King 303). Wayne is seen as the epitome of the Whites which are then often seen as the heroes in the Western films. It becomes the driving force of reason when Lionel wants to be just like his hero, John Wayne. Ultimately, Lionel dislikes being a part of his current Native community and therefore decides that since he cannot rise above the

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