Black Robe

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Robert Kilker concludes that though Black Robe “may at times pretend to equalize its perspectives of the French and Algonquins . . . it always recovers that balance, replacing it with a Eurocentric hierarchy.” I felt just the opposite. For me, Black Robe was based around Chomina, a true hero. Chomina is a strong character who stands firm in his beliefs but respects the beliefs of others, which is why he is the essence of the movie. As the movie progresses, the characters change, especially Laforgue, who comes to question his very identity as a Christian. Chomina changes the least, however, and emerges as the film’s most powerful character. His key trait is his ability to establish relationships that are founded on respect. Chomina accepts outsiders, while staying true to his own culture. He demonstrates how two cultures can co-exist, but not assimilate into one culture or the other. The basis for this co-existence is respect – a respect that begins in respect for himself and spreads to respect for his tribe and respect for other cultures.

[2] There is no better place to consider the character of Chomina and the central role he plays in the message of the film than in his death scene (1:21:12). At his dying moment, Chomina is a humble man who recognizes his weaknesses, relaying to Annuka that he “is as greedy as the white man.” But we know that he has always respected himself and has never acted on his greed. A humble person, a man aware of his own weaknesses, is less liable to try to exert power over others. This humble self-respect is the very basis of the ability to co-exist, to accept the “other.”

[3] In addition, we see in this scene that Chomina respects traditional values. Despite the constant persuading, he dies without being baptized so he can be with his people in the after-life. Though he respects what Laforgue believes, he chooses not to follow him; rather, in accord with his tradition, he wants to die in the place he saw in his...
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