Three Day Road: Character Development

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The two main characters in the novel “Three Day Road” by Joseph Boyden; Xavier Bird and Elijah Weesageechack, have many key differences that are illustrated throughout the novel. Xavier is reserved and visceral, while Elijah is self-assured and talkative. Xavier was raised by his Aunt Niska for the Majority of his childhood, opposed to how Elijah was raised in Moose Factory by nuns at a residential school. These factors hold an important responsibility on their personalities and the way that they think and make decisions. The three key differences between them that are paramount to the story and the themes of the novel are; firstly their respect for their Oji-Cree culture, secondly their respect and love for human life, and lastly their personalities. The differences in their personalities create positive chemistry back in their homeland of Canada, but when they are sent to Europe to fight in World War One, their relationship is put to the test.

An important difference between Elijah and Xavier is the difference in their respect for their Aboriginal culture. Respecting their Oji-Cree culture is paramount to Xavier, while it is much less important to Elijah. An example of Xavier’s close association with his aboriginal culture can be seen through the following quote, “All of them stare down at me. I look up, sitting cross-legged with one of the horses sprawled beside me, its head on my lap. I look like I’ve been painted red. The smell of blood is heavy. It covers the wooden walls, the floor, the straw upon the floor. Elijah sees that one of my hands rests on the floor with my skinning knife in it. The horse’s neck gapes open along its big artery.” (Page 189) This example shows Xavier’s connection to his aboriginal culture because having respect for animals is a major part of the Oji-Cree morals. In this exact scene Elijah was willing to shoot the horses, which shows a lack of respect for the animal, which goes against the morals of his aboriginal heritage. A second key example of how Xavier and Elijah differ when it comes to their aboriginal culture is seen through Elijah’s willingness to assimilate into European culture. In the novel Elijah states, ““Jolly good night for a little snooping, eh, Thompson?” Elijah says. Thompson shakes his head at the words, and his teeth are white almost to a glow. “You do a better British accent than a Brit”, he says.” (Page 137) Elijah’s readiness to develop an English accent is in stark contrast to the fact that Xavier refuses to assimilate into the European culture. The third example of how Xavier and Elijah are different in the way they treat their aboriginal heritage is seen when the two of them are on their way to Toronto and they sell their canoe to get some extra money so they can afford new clothes. These new clothes are a necessity because they need to blend into their new environment to a certain extent. The following quote depicts the moment perfectly, ““When Elijah strolls out, I laugh. He has chosen a black suit and stiff, high white collar. In the mirror he looks like a preacher. This appeals to Elijah” (Page 142). In the scene, it is obvious that Xavier purchases his clothing out of necessity, while Elijah purchases his new clothes because it is appealing to assimilate into the new Canadian culture they are about to be immersed within. The most important part of the quote is the final sentence, which states, “This appeals to Elijah”. The fact that it appeals to him proves that he has interest in being assimilated into the Canadian society. Through the example presented it is blatant to see that Xavier has respect for his Oji-Cree culture, while Elijah has a lack of respect for it.

A second example of how Elijah and Xavier differ is seen through their different views of brutality and respect towards other people’s lives. Xavier has a lot of respect for humans and their lives and due to this he kills out of necessity. On the other hand, Elijah enjoy killing humans and does...
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