After analyzing the book, Three Day Road during the past couple of weeks I’ve come to realize how all three of the literary theories connect to this compelling war story. Each of these theories allowed me to research deep into the text and really helped me understand the true meaning and background of the information talked about in this novel. Although I was able to connect all three of the theories in this book, I found that the archetypal theory overall gave me the most insight into the story and I was able to find majority of the connections relating back to this theory.
After connecting the archetypal theory to this novel, I was able to further understand the characters and the role they play in a much more insightful way. As well it allowed me to pay attention to the various themes and symbols of the novel much more clearly due to this literary theory. Joseph Boyden did an incredible job of expressing these themes and symbols in such a unique way during the time period of the WW1.
Since the main characters in the Three Day Road are Aboriginals in the early 90’s, they do in fact believe in the spirit animals and herbs having healing powers beyond the Wemistokishiw’s understanding. After focussing and analyzing on each characters experiences with culture and looking at some of the myths they believe within the Aboriginal’s lifestyle’s, it was easy to connect some of the characters in this book to some of the archetypal characters. Some common archetypal figures in his novel, include The Great Mother, and the Trickster. The Great Mother is said to have the people around her bring her peace. In this case, Niska reached out to her spirit animals in hopes they will Niska kill the Frenchman. After the Frenchman had “took your power away in this place and sent it to burn in hell where it belongs.” (174), Niska later finds out that by her wishes, the Frenchman had “flung himself through the window” (176) of a hotel, and died. Therefore, ‘The Great Mother’ was able to find peace from the death of the Frenchman. ‘The Trickster’ exemplifies the character Elijah perfectly.
“Weesageechak is the trickster, the one who takes different forms at will. Hudson’s Bay Company traders could never pronounce it with their thick tongues. But they saw the trickster is the whiskeyjack, the grey jay that loves to hear his own voice, is bold enough to steal food from their hands when they were not watching.” (154).
This quote sums up the character of Elijah as The Trickster in many ways. In the end, Elijah becomes a Weesageechek, who is considered a very dark and evil spirit in the mind’s of a Cree. Ultimately Elijah becomes a different man that is too selfish to realize what is happening to him, and in the end is killed because of it. Xavier agrees saying, “[Elijah] is someone I no longer know”(308).
I think that these archetypal figures are very common within other stories as well. Another book that I have read that I think relates to Elijah as ‘The Trickster’ is the character Peeta, in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Mockingjay. After Peeta is taken by the capital he is brain washed into hating the love of his life, Katniss Everdeen.
“She’s a liar! you can’t believe anything she says! She’s some kind of mutt the capital created to use against the rest of us! Don’t trust her. I did, and she tried to kill me. She killed my friends. My family. Don’t even go near her! She’s a mutt! She’s a stinking mutt!”(105).
Just like Elijah, Peeta completely turns his back on the people who care about him the most, because ultimately he is not mentally stable at this point. This compares to Elijah’s morphine problem that in the end he is not able to control his addiction and turns on both Niska and his best friend Xavier.
On a personal level, I think the one character in this book that I can relate to is Xavier. In my life I have had friends that I have known for a very long time go through a big chance and in the end it effects your relationship. Seeing someone you care about go through such a hard time in their life is hard to watch, and you hate seeing them in a state you are not familiar with. In Xavier’s case, he knows that Elijah’s morphine addiction has gotten so bad to the point where he doesn’t even recognize his own best friend. I think that this would be a very hard thing for any friendship to go through and is heartbreaking to see such negative change happening to someone you care a lot about.
All in all, this theory really allowed me to look deeper into the text, and I was able to find experiences that I’ve read in different novels that compared to the ones I focussed on in this novel as well as personal experiences that I could relate to. Overall, the archetypal theory gave me the best insight of the Three Day Road, and I enjoyed the knowledge I was able to take away from this theory.
Boyden, Joseph. Three Day Road. Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2008. Print.
Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2010.