addresses his past place him on a path that leads to loneliness. Saul does reestablish his relationship with nature. He leaves Manitouwadge, and the comforts of the Kelly home soon after he arrives, to work in a “logging camp” (172). He feels “cocooned,” protected and connected to “Time, mystery, departure and union,” all at once when he is alone in the bush (172-173). Nature reminds him of “what it mean[s] to be…Ojibway,” and he remembers Naomi’s stories (173). He spends the early morning hours in the forest while the other loggers are still asleep, and it feels like a “ritual….[a] ceremony, ancient and simple and personal,” like the mornings when he cleared the ice as a child at St. Jerome’s (173). The bush brings Saul a sense of peace and serenity. However, Saul also embraces his childhood survival mechanism of self-induced isolation, and this makes the men Saul works with uncomfortable. The loggers are mostly “northern men, Finns, Swedes, Germans, Quebecois and Russians,” who have not had an Aboriginal “in their midst before” (173) They respond to their discomfort by engaging in racist bullying, calling Saul “‘Chief’ and ‘Tonto,’” and increasing Saul’s workload in
118 physical and demeaning ways (173-174). Saul initially ignores their abusive behavior, but when one of the men makes a “crude…gesture” towards Saul in the “bunk” house “one night” Saul responds with violence, quickly silencing the man by firmly grasping his throat, striking him “in the head,” and knocking him unconscious (172-175). He turns to the other men, hoping to release more of the “frigid blackness” that burns inside of him, but no one else steps forth, and Saul resumes his quiet, private ways (172-175). Saul initially avoids others, but when he is pushed past his coping threshold he resorts to his other strategy, violence. Saul becomes a “hard” young man (176). He keeps to himself to suppress the anger that burns within him from escaping, but his violent nature remains close to the surface, and he brings this “intensity” with him when he returns to Manitouwadge. Saul plays hockey with the Moose again, but the “blackness” he tries to suppress is released upon both his “white,” and Aboriginal opponents (176). Saul no longer finds sanctuary in hockey because the racism he experiences in Toronto corrupts the game for him, even when he is supported by his adoptive Manitouwadge community. Saul fights at every opportunity, and his violent nature pushes his friends away. Saul believes he has lost “the game” he loves “forever,” and he resorts to his strategy of leaving (176). He loads his belongings into his truck, and drives away at the end of the hockey season. He chooses a life of self-induced isolation on the road, and immerses himself in work, music, and literature.
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- Fall '11
- Aboriginal peoples in Canada, First Nations, Indigenous Australians, Canadian Indian residential school system, Indian Residential Schools