Indian Boarding School: The Runaways by Louise Erdrich
Louise Erdrich's poem Indian Boarding School puts the emotions of a person or group of people in a setting around a railroad track. The feelings experienced are compared to things from the setting, which takes on human characteristics. The boarding school may have been a real place she went to, or where mistreatment of her people was not uncommon, or it could simply be a tool she used to express racism towards them in general. With that fact, the reader must remember that although the words are from the runaways' point of view, there are not necessarily any real runaways. From the point of view at which this is told, the runaways are eager to find their way home. They do not necessarily really try to runaway, it may just be in their fantasies, 'Home's the place we head for in our sleep.' (line 1). The first use of personification is in the line, 'The rails, old lacerations that we love,'(line 4). It is not yet quite clear why Erdrich would compare the train tracks with old lacerations until the lines, 'shoot parallel across the face and break just under the Turtle Mountains.' (lines 5-6). Mountains are definite things that are physical in nature. Train tracks on a face are hard to imagine, so it leads us to believe it has some deeper meaning. This reveals that the children want to run away from the boarding school for more serious matters than just good old home-sickness. The 'old lacerations' may represent wounds on their own faces, internal or external. Visually, train tracks look like wounds that were stitched and scarred. The Turtle Mountains must relate to this idea somehow since they are in the same sentence. The word 'under' is used for describing the direction in which the lacerations run. Considering that they start from the face, the Turtle Mountains may represent breasts. The two are alike in the fact that they are both under the face. With that in mind, and the next line,...
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