Symbolism In The Loons

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In “The Loons” by Margaret Laurence, the loons symbolize the utter genocide of the Native culture caused by the white man. Native people are faced with an identity crisis, as they can no longer belong to the remnants of the Native community or to the white community that they have never been compatible with. Like the loons, they long for a place of belonging. Ever since European explorers first reached North America, they have treated the land, like the people, as an expendable resource. Their idealism of take what you want clashes with that of Natives which has, and will, continue to lead to a path of devastation. The characters of Vanessa and Hilda are examples of white people’s ignorance towards Natives and lack of remorse of what their…show more content…
When Hilda is first introduced into the story, she shows an interest in learning about Native culture but, instead of talking to the Natives with her, she insists on seeing Helmut Walking Eagle, a German who tried to become a Native but is not truly accepted by the Native people. Hilda’s conversation with Lucy about the sun-dance shows the first signs of her ignorance as Lucy contradicts Hilda’s understanding of Native people. After the conversation, “Hilda looked at Lucy, and Lucy got the feeling she was telling her things she didn’t want to hear” (Warrior 172). Instead of leaning from the experience, Hilda just thinks of Lucy as an outlier, as opposed to her changing her understanding of what a ‘real’ Native is. On her trek to find Helmut, Hilda ignores one of the most prominent speeches calling Helmut an imposter: “Shit, [Helmut] is just a phony. How could anybody turn into something else? Huh? I don’t think I could turn into a white man if I tried all my life. They wouldn’t let me, so how does that German think he can be an Indian” (Warrior 174). Sonny’s speech represents the Native community’s opinion about Helmut and why he has never been accepted into their culture, unfortunately Hilda is too obsessed with finding the ‘real’ Native to give thought to Sonny’s words. Hilda’s misguided obsession continues even after a disastrous interview with Helmut. At the end of the…show more content…
Many people use books and stories as their primary sources as information but these sources are flawed. They are made to sell, not to inform. People often take these books as credible sources of information about Natives even though the sources only talk about the things that people want to hear about: the sun-dances, rituals, and stories. Lucy sees this and shares how, “She’d read in the papers how some white woman in Hollywood became a medicine woman. She was selling her book on her life as a medicine woman” (Warrior 174). This woman is likely motivated to do this because Natives have become a popular topic and she sees that she could make a profit from the book sales. This interest is shown in “The Loons” with the renaming of Diamond Lake, as well as in “Compatriots” as Hilda states that there are even clubs in Germany about Natives. Hilda’s pursuit of the ‘real’ native is intriguing as she never finds it because what she is looking for is the Natives that were first seen by European explorers, free from their influence: ‘museum pieces’ while Lucy is the product of many years of influence from white
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