-1st person point of view established, and the three main characters. -E and X are hunting; 12 years of age
-Who is the more experienced hunter? (X) How do we know this? -Establishing the story and its struggles through foreshadowing: -We stand back and stare as the marten struggles in the air. The black eyes focus on me. It does not want to die” (2). -We are great hunters and best friends, yes?” (2)
Chapter 1: Returning (3-9)
-We encounter the second speaker, Niska (Xavier’s aunt). As in most chapters, Boyden makes it easy to identify the new speaker in the first two paragraphs of the chapter. How? -It is the summer of what year? (1919)
-She feels conspicuous and unwelcome in the white man’s town. -What is the great surprise awaiting Niska? (Xavier returns alive, not E) -On p. 7, we learn of Xavier’s addiction. How do we learn this? -Niska is taking X home from the white man’s town, into the bush where she lives. It will be a “three-day paddle home” down river towards Hudson’s Bay (8). -Style: Niska speaks to us in English, but Boyden makes her speak in an informal but more natural-sounding dialect that is characterized by short sentences, comma splices, “me” instead of “I”, and figurative language (see below). -Figurative language:
“… the iron nose that sniffs the track” (4)
“It whistles like a giant eagle screaming…” (4)
“… [his eyes] are like the dark river in the sun” (7)
Conclusion: Xavier has “come home only to die” (9).
Chapter 2: Arrival (10-24)
-Xavier is the speaker in this chapter. He stays outside his aunt’s teepee, still basking in the warmth of his morphine, and begins telling his story of first arriving on the front lines in Flanders (near Saint-Eloi, probably in 1916). We meet members of his section, including Lieutenant Breech, Sergeant McCann, Fats, Sean Patrick and Grey Eyes. -E and X distinguish themselves by helping their platoon find their way to the Canadian frontline camp. We understand quickly that they are the best soldiers in their section, and respected by McCaan. -In turn, how do we know that X respects Sgt. McCaan? (18/19) -How do we know X’s childhood has prepared him well for battle? (Listens to shells/hunts w/ E/moccasins) -X is a keen judge of character and his situation (14,16)
-Now in the Canadian camp, the new soldiers sure shunned by the veterans. Nevertheless, X meets Smithy, a sniper, who shows respect for the newcomer and is unfazed by X’s aboriginal status. We see that war can erode (though not entirely remove) social stratification and racism. -Reference is made to Peggy (Francis Pegahmagabow), the great Ojibwa sniper of WW1. Being solitary is Peggy’s asset, and his problem. We’ll see this with X and E, too (24).
Chapter 3: Trenches (25-33)
-Xavier continues to be the speaker in this chapter. He continues his story of his first weeks up at the frontline…. -We are introduced to two more members of the section, Graves and Gilberto (the latter has as many problems speaking English as Xavier). We also meet Corporal Thompson, who has become the section’s newest NCO. He trains his new soldiers – esp. an observant X – about how to survive in the trenches. They learn about recognizing different kinds of shells, how to keep one eye closed against night flares, and where to run to during a bombardment (the freshest craters). -We are introduced to periscopes, the Ross rifles & shields used by snipers, and the duckboards at the bottom of the trenches. -On their first night mission into No Man’s Land, E and X hear something “like mice chewing” (31). It’s the sound of Canadian engineers digging tunnels underground. -X is almost shot before his return: “It is real. All of this is suddenly very real. The other side wants to kill me, and I’ve never even seen their faces” (33).
Chapter 4: My Father (34-49)
-Niska speaks in this chapter. Xavier is struggling with his morphine addiction and memories of war, so she begins to tell him (and us) a...