Analysis Of Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road

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The acclaimed Canadian author Joseph Boyden is often praised for providing an insightful look into Indigenous culture and history through his debut, Three Day Road. While the novel does explore the haunting memories of an Indigenous soldier, it also tackles concepts about storytelling and the power of words. Consequently, this essay investigates the question; How does Joseph Boyden use literary devices and narrative structure in Three Day Road to illustrate the power of stories and language? The novel serves as an examination of the power of words and the different roles they play in communication, one’s identity, supernatural events or healing. Boyden employs a unique circular narrative style to create contrasts and emphasize how each character…show more content…
This narrative style and alternating narrators allow Boyden to explore the use of stories and words in many settings and emphasize their power. The novel centres around three main characters, Niska, Elijah Whiskeyjack and Xavier Bird. The first storyline told through the perspective of Niska is her childhood and life. Then Xavier, the second narrator describes his wartime experiences through flashback memories as well as his current struggles to stay alive. However, each character tells stories throughout the novel, and each uses stories in very different ways that reflect the power of words in various…show more content…
She explains that when she was younger her father “was the last great talker” (Boyden, 34) on the reserve and would use “words forming invisible nets that he cast over us” (35). Boyden employs this metaphor to describe the captivating nature of Niska’s father and how each story ensnared it’s listener. This metaphor also establishes the motif of words portrayed as weapons which recurs throughout the novel as weapons are symbols of power. Niska continues that sometimes hunting was grim and they would struggle to survive long winters, so “his stories were all that we had to keep us alive” (35). Although they did not have food to fill them, the stories maintained morale, and brought them close together to increase body heat, ultimately saving them many times. In Indigenous culture stories are their main method of communication not only between each other, but between generations. Stories were often major components of rituals and tradition and would be orally relayed to share history, customs and important lessons. Evidently, stories and words are something highly respected in Indigenous culture. Boyden reflects this connection in Niska’s frequent use of storytelling and appreciation of communication. When she begins telling Xavier, the story of her childhood, she realizes that being alone so long
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