Susan Cooper's Ghost Hawk

808 Words4 Pages
Inspired by the marshland around her house, Susan Cooper’s Ghost Hawk brings about a multitude of questions and criticisms through her representations of indigenous lives. The novel’s two epigraphs suggest an air of equality or a neutral perspective of sorts with regards to the existence of all people and their land. This is especially apparent in Cooper’s use of Woody Guthrie’s liberal lyrics, this land is your land, this land is my land…this land was made for you and me. It appears that Cooper is setting the tone for readers to think that the land (which is historically accounted as being taken from the indigenous people), was in fact intended for all. Before reading the reviews and ensuing debates, I wondered if Susan Cooper wrote the story…show more content…
This begs the question, what right and obligation does an author have to write outside of their experience concerning historical representations? In Debbie Reese’s blog, she argues that a description of historical fiction requires a certain level of historical accuracy that Cooper sometimes lacks. In Jonathan Hunt’s review of the book for Heavy Medal, he contends that Cooper’s work was entirely embedded in fiction, and did not matter whether historical accuracy was maintained. Often through artistic mediums, we are not trying to portray something truly accurate or realistic (apart from realism). Often, a poem or a piece of fiction is never going to be a true representation of, say, someone’s experience of war, it could, nevertheless, evoke a strong feeling. However, according to Elizabeth Bird’s review, even evoking a strong feeling is missing in Cooper’s narrative, “when Little Hawk returns to his village, you feel mildly bad for him but hardly crushed. You didn’t know these people […] they didn’t feel enough like people to you. So where’s the outrage? Where’s the anger?”. Historical representations aside, the lack of appropriate emotion and the lack of humanity in the characters renders them two-dimensional.

In Jonathan Hunt’s review of the novel for Heavy Medal, he states that since the story is written from the perspective of the first protagonist, Little Hawk, it “engenders empathy for the disappearing indigenous people and their culture. Even when the story shifts to the second protagonist, this is always in the back of our minds.” This is precisely what Debbie Reese opposes and contends with – the very fact that it falls to the back of our minds, or there is nothing but empathy for the decline in indigenous peoples and their
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