Ricochet River Coyote Character Analysis

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Every story has a moral. In certain Native American legends, a character called Coyote serves to entertain as well as educate. In Ricochet River, author Robin Cody creates a character to serve as his Coyote, a Native American boy by the name of Jesse. Cody uses the characterization of Jesse to entertain his readers as well as teach them about the hardships faced by a Native boy trying to fit into a primarily white environment. Even Jesse’s own mother has a conflicting view of his cultural identity, which she expresses through diction. Jesse’s life, and death, serve as an educational and entertaining story of the dangers of trying too hard to forget one's culture in order to fit into a different one. Coyote is a Native American God whose mischievous…show more content…
Coyote dances all night until “his feet got bloody… [and he] wished the dance was over” (11). Once the sun came up, Coyote discovers he was mistaken. He had been “dancing on the lakeshore with a bunch of cattails, swaying in the wind (11). Though this vignette is not crucial to the plot, it introduces the reader to Coyote as an absurd character, who, similar to Jesse, does not have the best judgement. We see many instances of Coyote’s mistakes throughout the book, creating parallels between Jesse and Coyote as characters. Jesse ties mythology back to his own culture, and connects that to his school work, particularly english class. This makes the differences in cultures even clearer. They begin learning about mythology which Wade notices that Jesse “had a good feel for it, because of all the myths he had” (112). Jesse proceeds to tell the class a story about Coyote, a beaver called Wishroosh and some huckleberries. The teacher appears bored throughout and once Jesse has finished, she said “thank you… in such a way that the people thought it was OK to laugh” (113). Jesse, despite his best efforts, is not like the others in his class, and the stories from his culture exaggerate their differences.…show more content…
The day of Jesse’s death, there is a competition which Jesse enters. In his first event, log rolling, he wins a few rounds. Each round is competitive, to which the crowd responds well. However, when Jesse wins, “the applause was surprised, ominous, cold as the win” (251). Jesse was beating the loggers “at their own game” (251) and therefore was a threat. Eventually, Jesse does lose and once he does, “he hit the water to a tremendous roar from the mob” (252). The crowd enjoys seeing Jesse compete. He is entertainment. However, to them, Jesse is an outsider. He is more of a threat to them as a whole than the other competitors. They enjoy seeing him put up a good fight, but, unless he’s on their team, like in sports, he shouldn’t win; especially not a logging event he’s never competed in before. But, once he is no longer a threat, he goes back to being entertainment, even laughing and drinking with his rivals after his loss. As Jesse enters his next event, tree topping, he starts out looking clumsy and disconnected, and the crowd “was laughing at him” (257). However, as he gained altitude, he gained coordination and speed and now, “no one was laughing” (257). He was now a threat again. But, as he neared the top, it becomes clear that Jesse has no intention to slow down. At the top, his strap goes over the top and “his body arched
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