Response to Short Story

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Hugh Garner’s "One-Two-Three Little Indians" addresses the fate of Native Americans who have lost the sense of their true identity to the racist nature of the Europeans who colonized Canada. The main character in the story, Big Tom, appears physically and mentally worn out by his life. At the beginning of the story, the reader gets a sense of bitterness with how he perceives his life. Despite living in poverty, he appears to be a caring father. The reader senses Big Tom grappling with his Native identity when he tells his infant son a story: “his voice slid awkwardly through the ageless folktale of his people”. It is as if Big Tom is struggling with his true identity that may have been stunted by the life he is now forced to live. Furthermore, it is clear Big Tom has resentment for the Canadian culture around him, when his much younger, albeit foolish wife Mary, appears not to care for their child and is solely focused on working for a Caucasian woman who had promised her a silk dress. While he tries to explain the severity of their son’s illness, Mary is only focusing on working for material gain: “He knew the folly of trying to reason with her. She had her heart set on earning the silk dress the woman had promised.” Big Tom’s tone appears disgusted at his wife’s lack of dignity and respect, especially when he reminds her of her pregnancy: “‘A lot of dancing you’ll do,’ he said pointing to her swollen body. ‘You better learn to stay around and take care of the kid.’” It is clear he is frustrated with her lack of mothering and feels helpless that she is not taking the same care towards their child that he is. It also appears as if he blames the culture around him and its materialism for her wanton display of acquiring stuff. The reader is provided with further proof of the blatant racism Big Tom endures when he leaves the next day to sell his baskets near where the tourists are staying. An elderly woman buys his wares and he notices the surprise when she asks...