Characters And Symbols In Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road

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Three Day Road is a novel by Joseph Boyden, first published in 2005. The story is set from Niska’s teenage days in the early 1870s to the pre-WWI years, the war itself and the immediate post-war time. It takes place in Northern Ontario and on the battlefields of France and Belgium. We follow two parallel narratives, Niska’s and Xavier’s. They are both Cree Indians. She is one of the last Canadian medicine women to live off the land. Niska is a proud, strong and independent character who does not give in during a time of cultural interference from the white people. Her two boys, Xavier and Elijah, have fought in the Great War and one of them has returned. Xavier is an invalid and addicted to the army’s morphine when he comes back to Canada. Niska says “something far worse” (TDR, 38) than the drug “is consuming Xavier on the inside” (TDR, 38). She paddles her canoe on a three-day journey to bring Xavier home. She does not understand his sickness: “I decide, here on the river, that I will speak to him. In this way, maybe his tongue will loosen some. Maybe some of the poison that curses through him might be released in this way” (TDR, 100). How will her stories affect him (help) ? This essay will discuss the role of Niska and how she contributes healing Xavier. Niska is a loving person and a very strong mother figure for Xavier and Elijah. She does not only teach Xavier how to live in the bush, but also: “much more difficult, how to divine answers yourself” (TDR, 301). After
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