Analysis Of 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.…show more content…
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 the war, the authorities inform family members about their relatives and Niska is the one who gets the letter about Elijah, which shows us she is his family even though they are not related to each other. She goes through a lot to meet him at the train station and this makes her worthy of his fondness: “I have paddled by myself against the big river’s current for many days to get here. (…) Elijah Whiskeyjack is as close to a relation as I still have, and I will paddle him home” (TDR, 4, 5). Niska represents the Cree as helping, caring and “generous people” (TDR, 54). She is very loyal and proud of her Indian heritage. Yet, she describes herself through the whites’ perspective as a “thin and wild old woman (…) an Indian animal straight out of the bush” (TDR, 3). She only knows how to live by herself, and has chosen an isolated life because of her “habits” (TDR, 339) and “stubbornness” (TDR, 339). Though, Niska does not belong in Moose Factory and lives alone for a reason she has the same gift as her father: “This is not a place for you, Little One. You are a hookimaw,…show more content…
The morphine is a symbol of corruption by the white world, and because it is a product of the people Niska develops a hate for, that she finds it difficult to fight its effect on Xavier. “I cursed them with everything I had as they receded with no my father into their own world” (TDR, 53). Furthermore, Niska’s stories have an influence on Xavier because its distracts him from the pain, the drugs and the awful memories. “THE STORY AUNTIE TELLS me brings a smile to my lips” (TDR, 250). This is what Xavier needs indeed, to remember who he is because he is in between the world of the whites and the world of the Cree. Moreover, when Niska tells Xavier about her youth, it naturally includes him. “It is the story of my childhood. Now I tell it to you, Xavier, to keep you alive” (TDR, 39). Both of them have also been through something traumatic: “After the death of my father, your grandfather, Xavier, our people were directionless” (TDR, 100). In contrast, from her hate to the white people, she also wants to show Xavier through her stories that little good can come out of contact with the whites. The Indians were starving, and the trading of fur with the white people may keep them alive. Niska has sincere compassion for her nephew and believes they need each other: “In the long, quiet hours of the bush, the thought of you kept me company” (TDR, 244). It is essential for Niska to keep Xavier
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