- July 3, 2020
The use of Thomas King`s Green Grass Running Water
Theuse of Thomas King’s Green Grass Running Water
Theuse of Thomas King’s Green Grass Running Water
Wedo not have to debate on whether art is political or not, it alwaysis (stone 2014), I do agree with this statement. Art encompasses avast spectrum that has no limit in the society. Aristotle connotesthat man a political being by nature. As human beings, we canexpress ourselves in various ways which aim at giving us thesatisfaction of freedom. Art is among the greatest tools that humanshave used to lay out these expressions boldly presenting a picture ofwant is present using information, experiences and recorded historyof the past. The expressions cover the core of human nature which issocialism characterized by freedom, politics, and power.
Usingvarious characters Henry kings ., In his work Green Grass RunningWater covers a vast subject in both the history and the presentaspects of politics showing that indeed "We don`t have to debatewhether art should be political – it always is" (Stone 2014). The novel employs a very high sense of humor and satire that capturesvarious subjects that capture the subject of politics in differentangles. These subjects include the struggling social life of fourelders of the Native American origin, the Christian and NativeAmerican traditional myths, slavery to freedom and the conflictpresent in white culture and modernity where the subject of politicslies.
Kingintroduces the novel with a character Coyote, who is involved in adream. “The dream thinks it’s very smart, the dreams thinks itsGod," but the then Coyote names it dog which is the backward ofGod. This play on words revisits the political cultures of plainIndians who were in the habit to act in a contrary manner and didthings backward to the extent that they approached the battle groundbut then rode backward and fired backward to their people instead ofthe enemy (Colonel, Swarchts, and Hirschfelder).
Anotherpolitical angle that is presented is the character of Hovaugh whoruns the hospital from where Ishmael, Hawkeye, Robinson Crusoe andthe Lone Ranger escape. He believed that since the four Indians arelocked up, they can not cause any threat he, therefore, is moreinterested in contemplating his garden (19) than in other things.This act raises the eyebrows of the political times where heads andleaders of the nations and institutions take most of their timecontemplating on their personal achievements but give less thought towhat affects the present.“Dr.Hovaugh sat in his chair behind his desk and looked out at the walland the trees and the flowers and the swans on the blue-green pond inthe garden, and he was pleased.” (King, 16)
Furthermore,Hovaugh is a man who doesn’t like his opinions or authority to bechallenged by any one. King presents the conflicts that arise withpower in the politics of contemporary society. Hovaugh whose namealludes to Jehovah, The God and King of the Old Testamentrepresenting the dictatorial and urge to be in control thatassociates with him. As a scholar of literature, I find a questionthat makes me wonder. Could this character represented by such aSupreme being the answer to why the dictators of the new age hold onto political authority and silence anyone that challenges themleading to the outbreak of strife like we are currently witnessing inSyria?.
HenryKing covers the matter of freedom, a subject of politics in theCharacter of Bobo Jones. The African American cleaner walks with Dr.Hovaugh in the quest to find the four Indians who have escaped fromthe mental hospital. The author introduces her at an interrogationpoint involving two investigative white police officers, SergeantCereno and Jimmy Delano. At first, it is Cereno who interviews Bobo,but he doesn’t seem to like the answers he gets. "enough ofthis dog and pony show…you finish up with Aunt Jemima”(45) thispresents an element of Cerenos racism but most importantly presentsthe journey to freedom encountered by slaves and their journey toliberation presented in Melville’s Benito cereno. As the authorcreated this fast impression, he concludes by revealing that it isindeed Bobo who assisted the four Indians to escape from thefacility.
Thereis a case filed in court by a former university professor uncle EliStands Alone to prevent the operation of a dam on Indian land. Hefaces opposition from his brother who is a lawyer. This contextalludes to the Dawes Act of 1887 which allowed the privatization ofthe then communally held Indian lands. This resulted in a hugedispersal of Indians that paved way to the dishonest acquisition ofland. Elis opposition and lack of support can be seen as bothpolitical and social welfare. As history has it for the record, Kinglikens the character r of Elijah Harper (1990) who was the ministerof foreign affairs in Alberta whose single vote stood out in thedebate that did not allow consultations with the first nations butonly recognized the English and French.
Inthe second chapter, the book captures the life of Alberta who is themajor female character in the novel. She goes by the name FrankAlberta, but she is Frank, she is depicted as a woman who values herfreedom which is contrary to what native Indian women were expectedof by the society. She has a conflicting desire to have children andbe a single mom while at the same time to respect the Indian customs.Alberta had passion for driving, in many cases she drove alone in themidst of the uptown lights although she never liked the road tripsidea. Using Albertta as a character, King has successfully broughtup the subject of politics between modernity and conservatism for thestruggling contemporary native woman living in the Europeancivilization.
Thepolitics of the conflict between native culture and modern Americanis presented by Morningstar who gradually loses respect for thenative culture of his wife, Latisha. He goes ahead with his effortsto photograph the Indian sun dance which is. He is a man that iszealous about the American superiority and in the political Kingpresents him in a character that alludes to General Custer (1876) aman known for his reckless temperament and genocide attempt to theNative Americans.Kingalso presents the history of politics when he incorporates the namesof other major players in the political scene of the US at the timethe social conflict of Indians and Native Americans in the early 19thcentury.
Inthe third part of the novel, the author introduces the mysteriousdisappearance of Eli stands Alone. He is the liberator of the blackfoot community and therefore any allusion or connection of hisdisappearance to death will be a big blow to the community. A clearpolitical symbol of standing against rules and other oppressiveauthorities, his disappearance is a great suspense that the authorincorporates a style to his novel(pg 114).
Itis clearthatEli did not have any support including that of his sister. This lackof support means that in his disappearance, the community shall haveno liberator. His disappearance politically aligns itself with thepeople of the first nation in North America who have are silenced andtheir presence neglected.
Fromthe above-quoted passage, King also introduces us to anothercharacter, Mr. Clifford Simpson. He is among the proponents of theconstruction of the dam of which as Eli puts it right is going tobenefit the Duplessis and other residents in Alberta whileundermining the native Americans land rights beginning with the landand house that belongs to Elis Mother. King presents an obviouspolitical picture of Mr. Sifton who was the minister ofinterior(1905) that was partisan in matters of education and ensuredfunding and support to Catholic schools for the white only whileneglecting the native Americans
Itis, therefore, evident from the above discussion based on ThomasKings Greener Grass Running Water that politics and art cannot beseparated. The question of whether art should be political onlyrelies on an artist and his environment. The novel which is anartistic piece that presents reality, questions evils, and presentstruths as they are in the society. The characters presented in thenovel are in each of them a representation of political and socialtruths that face the society, yet they perfectly fit in the author’smasterpiece.
King,T., & Bernson, B. (1994). Greengrass, running water.Bantam Books.