Kaerleikshvetjandi blogg

fimmtudagur, maí 18, 2006

Háskóli Íslands

Native Canadian Women

Nína Rúna Kvaran
Einstaklingsverkefni B
Haustönn 2004
Leiðbeinandi: Guðrún B. Guðsteinsdóttir


The nature of the human being is a complicated phenomenon that will perhaps never be understood to the fullest degree, even as science and studies on the subject advance and develop. The human being is a complex creature, capable of great intellect, great inventions, great advancement and, unfortunately, great evil as well. Despite amazing differences and diversity in the human societies that surround the globe, there are certain elements that seem to be held in common by most cultures. On an individual level, we all recognize the need to excel, overshadow or even dominate others, if not personally then through other people. We see examples of men using their gender-based supremacy to exert power over women; women sometimes use their position as adults to abuse children etc. The cases, which demonstrate our possessive and tyrantial will, are seemingly endless.
On a more general note, this seemingly inbuilt drive of the human being to dominate over others is expressed through hierarchy, which exists in all of the larger and more complex societies. A reasonably large society almost always has an order of hierarchy that gives supremacy to some and inferior status to others. But on an even larger scale, we see entire nations taking on the role of the dominant over other nations that are unable to defend themselves from such imposing threats. Although this has always been a part of human history, the cases which are perhaps the closest to us, are those of Europeans dominating other continents by force and colonization, such as Africa (partly at least), South-America, North-America, Australia and the most famous Asian case being that of Britain’s rule over India.
In post-colonial studies the role of women is especially interesting because of the unique status of women that belong to the colonized class. Since the status of women is unfortunately that of the inferior in most patriarchal societies, the status of the women belonging to the forcibly colonized class, is that of a doubly oppressed, having a submissive role towards their own men who themselves are forcibly in a submissive role towards the dominant class. In the book Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies, the term subaltern as adopted by Antonio Gramsci is defined as that referring to “those groups in society who are subject to the hegemony of the ruling classes” (215). Using that very term, women of forcibly colonized or oppressed groups of a society, are the subaltern of the subaltern; the inferior amongst the inferior rank. That certainly must be a difficult and interesting position to be in and has been the subject of many modern fiction authors, especially of female authors.
The matter of the subaltern voice has often been a matter of discussion and debate amongst critics and authors. There is a definite viewpoint held up by many that such a voice can only be authentic if spoken by an actual subaltern person. The reasoning is that a white, male author would for example never be able to write authentically and believable about the life experience of a black woman, or that a white woman would never have enough insight to be able to interpret the life experience of a Native American boy. There is of course a valid point in this kind of criticism, that being that the old cliché “never write about what you don’t know” is still a valid rule for writers of fiction to follow. But as far as fiction goes, this viewpoint is equally ridiculous because fiction is exactly what the name suggests: something created out of the figment of the author’s imagination. It would be a very bleak literary world indeed if all authors were thus limited to write only about characters that are exactly of the same level, status and personality as they are themselves. One could then even claim that all secondary characters were out of the picture because of the same line of reasoning. This is of course preposterous and there is no critic or one person that can decide were the fine line lies in the creative process of fiction.
Best-selling author Stephen King refutes this opinion in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, in which he claims that a writer should have the freedom to tackle every subject or type of character as long as he/she makes an honest attempt to write truthfully and to his/her best knowledge, so to give the story and characters authenticity in the eyes of the reader. He nevertheless acknowledges that despite trying to follow that rule, as an author he has often been justly accused by critics of not representing female characters very believably and stereotyping African-American characters in his fiction. Being driven by the guilt of being a white, male born in the United States, he confesses to having unconsciously and repeatedly rendered his black characters more kind, affectionate, humane and simply better people than the white ones.
In this essay, the main aim is to examine by way of comparison and contrast three different literary works by three different female authors, mostly from the viewpoints of post-colonial and feminist theories. The works in question are historical novel The Dream Carvers by Joan Clark, short story The Storyteller by Leslie Marmon Silko, and short story The Loons by Margaret Laurence from her collection of short stories called A Bird in the House. The purpose of this will be to investigate the roles of Native Canadian women both in context to their own historical backgrounds and how due to colonization and exploitation of the white man, their roles and that of their people have altered into what they are today. Furthermore, it might be of interest as a secondary goal, to keep in mind and examine at the same time, the authenticity of these three authors’ representations of the above-mentioned themes, in context to their own personal backgrounds.
A Brief Summary of the Works and Their Authors

Before commencing on the actual comparison and contrast, I feel it essential to make a short note on the three above-mentioned authors and the works in question. I do this with the intention in mind to look later at the authors in context to their own personal backgrounds versus the backgrounds they display in these pieces of fiction that will be examined.
Joan Clark is the author of The Dream Carvers and was born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia but lives at the present in Newfoundland, which is the setting for the above-mentioned novel. She has written many books for children and are some of them, as is the case with this one, historical novels. The Dream Carvers won the 1995 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People along with other acknowledgements. It is set in the 11th century and describes the tale of Norse boy Thrand who travels from Greenland to Newfoundland and is kidnapped by a native tribe, the Beothuk, or the red ochre people.[1] Thrand’s is a story of immense personal development and maturity, as he struggles at first to escape from the Beothuk but later learns how to appreciate their way of life and way of thinking which is so profoundly different from that of his own Norse people. As time goes by he starts to abandon his schemes of escape and adjusts to his new life, considering himself as one of the red ochre people. Although Thrand is the main character of the novel, I will mostly be putting emphasis on the Beothuk female characters, such as old grandmother of the tribe Imamasduit, her granddaughter Abidith, and young girl Ahune who has a romantic interest in Thrand.
Margaret Laurence is the author of short story The Loons. She was born in 1926 in Neepawa, Manitoba and later in life lived in Africa. In 1962 she moved to England and wrote five books on a fictional town she called Manawaka, that is based on the place where she grew up and its people, both white and Native. One of these books is short story collection A Bird in the House, a book combined of eight interwoven stories that revolve around the life of girl Vanessa McLeod as she passes into womanhood. As mentioned above, my focus will be on The Loons and rather than look at the main character Vanessa, the emphasis will mostly be on the Native girl Piquette Tonnerre. The story is seen through the eyes of Vanessa but what it really describes is the tragic tale of young Piquette, as a neglected and unhappy child who developes into a miserable and unhappy young woman.
Leslie Marmon Silko is (as far as I could find out Guðrún) the only of the three authors that is herself of Native descent. She is of Pueblo, Laguna, Mexican and white descent and differs from the above-mentioned authors because of her Native roots and obviously not being a Canadian, being born in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
She has emphasised greatly in her works, the importance of the oral tradition in the Native cultures and some of her stories are based on real, oral heritage. Silko’s concern about Native culture is eminent in her works and her story The Storyteller, about a native girl of Eskimo descent, is no exception from that rule. The girl has (as have her people) suffered many an injustice from the white man and as the story unfolds, the girl takes a peculiar kind of revenge against the imperial power, avenging her parents’ deaths and taking on a leading role amongst her own people that had treated her with disdain before.

The Post-Colonial Viewpoint

To fully understand post-colonial studies, it is necessary to have at least a minimal knowledge about imperialism; its origins and theory. What does the average person usually think about in terms of the word ‘imperialism’? Perhaps images of the British Empire would commonly pass through one’s mind or something of a similar nature, but it is important to remember that imperialism as a term was perhaps firstly and primarily adapted as a technological term of economics. In the book Studies in Theory of Imperialism, Tom Kemp in his article ‘The Marxist theory of imperialism’, explains how:
The Marxist theory of imperialism sets out to explain the characteristics displayed by the capitalist mode of production in its latest, most advanced stage as a result of the working out of its ‘laws of motion’ discovered by Marx (Kemp, 17).
He furthermore goes on to explain how in that way, the term imperialism is used in a technical sense, which is sometimes quite different from, how historians and others might perceive it. As Kemp says, for the latter it “generally means principally or exclusively the relationship between the advanced, imperial country and the colonial or semicolonial areas falling within its formal or informal empire (Kemp, 18).
Although most might not realize it, imperialism is still a living and breathing thing today, although modern imperialism would perhaps have been impossible without colonialism. As Harry Magdoff points out in his article “Imperialism Without Colonies”, taken from the above-mentioned book, the end of colonialism does not necessarily mean the end of imperialism. He goes on to explain that in the beginning colonialism was essential (with military and political force) to reshape the social and political institutions of the colonized state so it would suit the needs of the dominant force. He claims that when this was accomplished “economic forces [. . .] were by themselves sufficient to perpetuate and indeed intensify the relationship of dominance and exploitation between mother country and colony” (Magdoff, 164). What he is saying is that even though the colonized country would be granted formal independence, nothing essential would really change. This is of course true as can be seen by how so many countries that were colonies of European dominant forces before, still today, despite being independent in word, are completely dependent on various economical resources and assistances from those who colonized them earlier. A vast amount of the so-called third world countries, are still today being supported but at the same time exploited by Western societies and are indeed entrapped in vicious cycles of poverty and political corruption.
What about post-colonial studies within the literary world? It is a fact that post-colonial criticism did not emerge as a distinct category until in the 1990’s and according to the book Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory by Peter Barry, one of the effects of post-colonial studies “is to further undermine the universalist claims once made on behalf of literature by liberal humanist critics” (Barry, 192). He claims that the notion of great literature being in some way timeless and universal, in fact disregards cultural and social differences and life experiences, and instead judges all literature from some “universal standard” that in fact does not exist. This is of course profoundly true because unfortunately the above-mentioned universal standard is based on mostly white, male, Eurocentric norms that are then imposed on to subjects of literature that do not belong to it.
The Subaltern Identity

When looking at the subaltern role or identity as it is portrayed in the three pieces of fiction, there are various differences and similarities that emerge. In The Storyteller the term subaltern is easily applied since it is common knowledge that the Native people of the Americas were (and still are in many ways) subaltern to the invading Europeans who formed the dominant class. There are many references to this in Silko’s story. One example is the repeated reference to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an institution set up to handle aspects such as the forced education of Native children so that they might be assimilated into white culture and made to forget or disregard their own. In The Storyteller the girl herself enters the school of the Gussucks [2] but quickly regrets her decision as she realizes what kind of humiliation her people go through there. The dormitory matron of the school even cruelly and degradingly whips her with a leather belt because she refuses to speak English. She remembers her old man’s[3] warnings: “The trouble was that she had not recognised the warnings in time. She did not see what the Gussuck school would do to her until she walked into the dormitory and realized that the old man had not been lying about the place” (Silko, 1146).
Another example of the subaltern position of the girl’s people is the often-mentioned exploitation of the natural resources their land possessed. Or as the old man explains to her:
“They only come when there is something to steal. The fur animals are too difficult for them to get now, and the seals and fish are hard to find. Now they come for oil deep in the earth. But it is the last time for them” (Silko, 1148).
The term subaltern in the story The Loons is also applicable but not in exactly the same direct way as in The Storyteller since in the former the Natives have assimilated much more into white culture than in the latter. In The Storyteller the white people or the Gussucks are much more a distant and impersonal force, very unlike the Natives themselves and very hated by them[4]. In The Loons the Natives are at least assimilated into the white culture to the extent of going to the same schools and being out of touch with their ancestry as I will discuss in better detail later on.
Despite this, in The Loons, the Native girl, Piquette Tonnerre, is very obviously born into a subaltern position. Her family history is briefly depicted as that of a group of half-breeds that fit nowhere into society, they to not belong to the Cree, the Scots-Irish or the Ukrainians. As Vanessa McLeod’s[5] grandmother would have put it: “They were [. . . ] neither flesh, fowl, nor good salt herring” (Laurence, 108-109). The Tonnerre family does not even speak a ‘proper’ language in between themselves but a kind of patois and their English was “broken and full of obscenities” (Laurence, 108). They live in a shack and Piquette is described as being an “embarrassing presence, with her hoarse voice and her clumsy limping walk and her grimy cotton dresses that were always miles too long” (Laurence, 109). On top of this, there is evidently alcoholism in the home and Piquette herself as a young adult falls prey to alcoholism and eventually dies as a result of a drunken stupor, having been arrested many times before for drunk and disorderly behaviour. These descriptions indicate a life of poverty and misery, and alongside with the alcohol-related problems are clear signs of a subaltern position. Some might say that this kind of depiction of the modern Native American or Canadian people, as a group of poverty-stricken, broken and beaten alcoholics, is a horrid case of stereotyping. But it still must not be forgotten that these above-mentioned elements were at play in the aftermath of cruel colonization and systematic extinction imposed on these people. Robbed of their land, lifestyle, culture and self-respect, poverty was what awaited most Native people and the comfort of the bottle was not only a temporary haven for some, but became a way of lifestyle. By this, it is not being claimed that all Natives became drunkards, but simply that a story depicting such a tragic lifespan of one person, in this case, Piquette’s, is maybe not as far from the truth as some would like to believe. Furthermore, it most not be forgotten that Laurence wrote this story as a part of a semi-autobiographical volume, and she was born in 1926. Although this image of the misery of the Native people hopefully does not have a great resounding in the lives of Natives today, it might have had so at the time. At least this portrayal of the subaltern (although Laurence of course does not use that phrase) seems to be what Laurence witnessed with her own eyes as a child.
In the case of Clark’s The Dream Carvers, the subaltern identity is perhaps slightly more difficult to apprehend. As said before, the story takes place in the 11th century, which is long before Columbus ‘discovered’ America and therefore long before any real imperialism or colonialism took place in the Americas. Therefore it is difficult to see where the term subaltern applies in this case. At first it seems logical to assume that the roles are in fact reversed in this novel: the dominant force being the Beothuk people and the white, Norse boy Thrand, being in a subaltern position to them. If looked at from a personal point of view, Thrand certainly starts out as of an inferior rank to the Beothuk, being bound and held captive against his will. But this is really not a strong line of logic since the term subaltern, as mentioned above, is mostly used to refer to groups in society that are subject to the hegemony of the ruling classes, and as such, Thrand certainly does not belong to a subaltern group. But as a person, he is in a powerless situation to begin with.
When looking at The Dream Carvers on a much larger scale, away from the personal situations of the characters, I feel strongly that Clark is showing through her work the wrongness of the mere presence and existence of the term subaltern at any time. The book is historical and it foreshadows the eventual subaltern position imposed on the Beothuk people, that sadly went so far as to reach total extinction of those people. Clark not only describes in detail the way of life and thinking upheld by the Beothuk, she also makes an effort to compare them with Thrand’s completely different and very European view of life; a view and standpoint that eventually led to Europeans invading not only the Americas but other continents as well, with force, cruelty and greed, sometimes disguised as Christian good-will and sometimes not disguised at all. Examples of this are seen early on in the book when Thrand is just realizing that he is a prisoner of the Beothuk and he wonders why they are keeping him alive: “Why have these red people brought me here? [. . .] And why haven’t they killed me? This is what a Norseman would do. Norsemen quickly kill whatever is unfamiliar and strange. That is our way” (Clark, 9). The reader eventually sees that the way of the Beothuk is not to kill but to maintain balance within the family group and Thrand will be used to repair what imbalance he created by causing the death of a young, male Beothuk. This peaceful way of living in harmony with the forces of nature and each other is emphasised greatly in the book and it also explains to an extent, just why tribes such as the Beothuk were doomed to fall victims to a subaltern position when colonization started of their region and homelands. Even if the differences between weaponry and such elements had been eliminated, a people with such a peaceful disposition never had a chance against the aggression of the white man.

Surveillance or the Imperial Gaze

When looking more closely at the three works, it becomes interesting to see just how some known terms from post-colonial theories might apply to them. According to Key Concepts a very important tool of the imperialistic viewpoint is that of the so-called ‘imperial gaze’. The reason for this is that surveillance is one of most “effective strategies of imperial dominance” (226) because it gives the viewer an elevated advantage point and in such a way implies that the observer is in a powerful position compared to the observed. The imperial gaze “defines the identity of the subject, objectifies it within the identifying system of power relations and confirms its subalterneity and powerlessness” (226).
The idea of a ‘gaze’ giving the viewer a distinct advantage point becomes especially interesting when considering the writing process of authors. Is not one of the key elements of becoming a good and accomplished writer to be able to survey people and their, surroundings, behaviour, emotions and reactions? Is it possible as an observer to give an accurate picture of the subject without having been in its shoes oneself? Maybe not completely but this must also not be taken too literarily. Authors Laurence and Clark are not Native Canadians but they have nevertheless written about Natives. The question is, have they done so from an advantage viewpoint of the observer only and does it matter? When comparing them to author Silko, she is of Native descent (albeit not Canadian) and one could say that in that way she might have a more personal understanding of the position of the subaltern. Her story The Storyteller does offer a very profound insight into the completely different way of thinking between the white and the Native and the misunderstandings that can arise from such a difference. I will not examine this from the authors’ personal viewpoints more here, since it would perhaps require a more detailed research on their personal backgrounds. I only mention this as forethought before looking better at surveillance as it is portrayed in the three stories.
In The Storyteller the imperial gaze or surveillance is repeatedly present. The most obvious example is in the communication the girl has with the white oil drillers. She is curious about them and as she passes them they watch her closely. Later when she enters the store, the store man watches her with suspicion and as she walks across the room the men stare at her. Despite of all these examples of white men gazing at this Native girl, it is questionable whether this really puts her in a powerless position or not. Even the text itself implies that it does not: “They stared at her, but she had the feeling she was walking for someone else, not herself, so their eyes did not matter” (Silko, 1149). She has her own hidden agenda and although it might seem as if she is the one being observed, it is in fact the opposite. She is observing them and their behaviour so she can better devise her plans of revenge. Since her plan ends up becoming a success, one might conclude that she is in fact the powerful and not powerless individual and Silko has turned the imperial gaze up on its head.
In Laurence’s The Loons, the question of the surveillance is quite different. As told before the narrator is Vanessa, a white girl and a representative of the author’s own childhood. Vanessa is an observer of Piquette’s short and miserable life. In fact, we never get any insight into how Piquette might be feeling or experiencing her own situation in life. It is all a matter of Vanessa’s interpretation. Although this can be seen as a case of surveillance certainly, it is perhaps stretching it too far to call it an imperial gaze. The author is simply describing what she saw and heard as a child and despite that Piquette’s position is very subaltern throughout the whole narrative; it is more so towards the society she lives in than towards Vanessa herself. In fact, Vanessa feels sympathy and interest in Piquette and repeatedly tries to approach her as a friend but is rejected. Maybe the reason Piquette comes out as such a powerless wretch compared to the girl in The Storyteller, is in some way due to the fact that Silko has a better insight into how it feels to be on the other side of the imperial gaze and Laurence does not, but I will not dive deeper into that here.
When regarding Clark’s The Dream Carvers observation and surveillance are very important elements throughout the entire story. Thrand in his captivity can do little else but observe the Beothuk and that is how he learns of their way of life. At times his surveillance and descriptions of them almost sound as if he was Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians, examining and documenting (in his mind) all he witnesses. This might seem as an imperial gaze on one level but of course, the main difference is that Thrand is in a hopelessly powerless situation and he is himself no less the observed than the observer. The Beothuk see him as a strange creature (some even doubt for a while whether he is human or not) and they talk and debate over what should be done to him. To begin with Thrand is very much influenced by what he has heard before about Natives: “As a boy in Greenland I was told Skraelings were wretches who lived on the outermost reaches of the world. They weren’t people but wild savages who lurked in unknown places” (Clark, 8). But as said before, Thrand quickly realizes that he is the one who is the ‘skraeling’ among the Beothuk; a very definite outsider of their norm: “Other than feeding me and moving me between tent and stake, the skraelings ignore me completely. It’s as if by not being red, I don’t exist. I am outside their world of redness” (Clark, 8). Eventually, Thrand also assimilates into the Beothuk lifestyle and gives up his Norse identity, not only by name but completely. In that way, The Dream Carver is similar to The Storyteller since the ‘gazing’ goes in both directions.

Orality and Cultural Preservation

The connection between orality and literacy is nowhere as obvious as in cases of post-colonial cultures that upheld oral traditions before being colonized by literary cultures. Post-colonial studies are on a large scale based on the studies and re-evaluation of the oral tradition that was so common amongst indigenous people[6]. Part of the disrespect that colonized subjects received derived from the Eurocentric view of orality as a ‘lower’ form than the literary one and a lack of literacy was seen as proof for a lack of a ‘proper’ civilisation. Now a days, this view has thankfully been abandoned and many that devote themselves to post-colonial studies have desperately tried to salvage what little might have managed to survive of oral heritage of for example the Native American or Canadian cultures. The sad part is, that very often the colonized subjects have been force-fed on information that was exclusively meant to promote embarrassment and lack of respect towards their own cultural history. This brainwashing (often aimed especially at Native children by the Governmental schools) sadly resulted in a generation of Natives that denounced their own culture for the white one, and that obviously meant the decline of many aspects of their culture, as for example the oral tradition.
Of all the three works being investigated here, The Storyteller (as the title in fact suggests) is the best example of the importance of the oral tradition and the frightening reality of people who have rejected their own cultural inheritance. There are two obvious examples of Inuits “adopting” the imperial viewpoint in regards to their own people. The first one is the jailer. He is an Inuit but he still refuses to talk to the girl in their Yupik language. He firmly ignored all the prisoners unless they spoke to English to him, which is of course ridiculous behaviour: “She had watched people in the other cells; when they spoke to him in Yupik he ignored them until they spoke English” (Silko, 1145). The second example is the dormitory matron in the school. She cruelly whips the girl for refusing to speak English and then says: “Those backwards village people [. . . ] they kept this one until she was too big to learn” (Silko, 1146-1147).
According to Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley’s article ‘Yupiaq Education Revisited’, the Native people listened to the stories and as they unfolded they became a part of the people’s present life with myth and reality intermingling. The indigenous people often lived their lives by the moral of the stories and the loss of the oral tradition has in many cases meant the loss of the people’s identity as a nation. The old man’s story is a story within the story about the girl, and it is perhaps more important than the other since it is what inspires the girl. Silko is, as mentioned above, partly a Native person herself and many of her works are about the preservation of the oral tradition that she herself grew up with. It the orality is lost, so is the past for these people and therefore it is very symbolic how the girl takes over the old man’s role as a storyteller amongst her own people:
The day after the old man died, men from the village came. She was sitting on the edge of her bed, across from the woman the trooper hired to watch her. They came into the room slowly and listened to her. At the root of the bed they left a king salmon that had been split open wide and dried last summer. But she did not pause or hesitate; she went on with the story, and she never stopped, not even when the woman got up to close the door behind the village men (Silko, 1156).
She represents a younger generation and the fact that she both took revenge on the white man and became a storyteller herself, gives the reader a sense of hope that these ancient traditions of orality might still be preserved if the people themselves choose so.
There is a very important point going on here and that is the idea of agency. According to Key Concepts the term agency “refers to the ability of post-colonial subjects to initiate action in engaging or resisting imperial power” (8). This is very much what the girl does. She rebels against the imperial power in many ways and this is admirable not only because she is a subaltern, but because she is a female subaltern and therefore an even more underdog. Therefore her rebellion can be seen as not only that of a colonized subject against the imperial dominance, but also from a feminist point of view, of a Native woman’s rebellion against white, male supremacy.
Another point regarding the girl’s obvious feminine powers is her relationship with her grandmother. When the old woman dies she leaves clear instruction that her wolf skin parka be left for the girl. This is very culturally significant. The parka was a prized possession of the grandmother and she decides to leave it to the girl rather than be buried in it. With this she shows her granddaughter the ultimate respect but at the same time she might be sending her a message. According to Kawagley’s article the Inuit people rendered all animals a special meaning and the wolf, alongside with a few other animals, represented power.[7] Perhaps the old woman tries to inspire the girl to use her own power (which she most certainly does) by leaving her this gift.
The girl’s rebellion is seen through a number of her actions. She does not return to the Gussuck school but chooses to return to her own culture, even if it means having to suffer sexual relations with the old man. She also murders the store man with cold blood: “I intended that he die” (Silko, 1156) and that is perhaps the most extreme example of her resistance. If the store man’s causing the death of her parents can be seen as parallel to the whites ‘murdering’ the Native culture, then the girl’s murderous action can be seen as a simple act of cultural preservation. Even when she is imprisoned she continues to preserve her own culture by showing no fear, refusing to lie and assuming the role of the storyteller.
In Clark’s The Dream Carvers orality is not exactly an issue of debate or differences since although the Beothuk are most certainly an oral culture: “Late afternoons, after we have eaten and before it grows dark, we tell stories” (Clark 92), so seems Thrand to come from a mostly oral culture himself. At least by his descriptions of home, he frequently talks about how he was taught and how he learnt from his parents and his elders. He even mentions sharing stories with Teit, a boy close to his own age. Later in the book, Thrand is invited to tell his own culture’s oral tales of Creation and much of his tale is lost in the Beothuk: “Much of Wobee’s[8] story is difficult for us to understand. It is hard to make pictures from his words. We are full of questions” (Clark, 92).
What I feel is even more important than to focus solely on the oral tradition in this case, is the role the women play in The Dream Carvers as powerful figures of cultural preservation. In fact, females seem to have a much more dominant role in a spiritual way than the men.
Old woman Imamasduit is obviously a leader amongst the tribe. Is seems to be her doing that Thrand is being kept alive and it is she that holds aloft the importance of respecting the Beothuk ancient cultural way of thinking. By that I am referring to the importance of balance within the tribe and harmony with nature. Imamasduit is determined that Thrand be assimilated into the group although many others, including Abidith, are wholly against the idea of him ever being able to replace the one that they lost[9]. Imamasduit is a strong female figure and her wisdom turns out lead them to the best solution of the situation. By her decision, she restores the balance that had been lost and in that way serves an important role in the cultural preservation of her people.
Another important cultural aspect in The Dream Carvers is the role of dreams (as the title itself suggests). Again, Imamasduit uses her authority as a leading figure to explain the importance of dreams in the Beothuk culture:
I have listened closely to what Grandmother has said about dreams. She has said there is so much we do not know about ourselves that appears in dreams. She says the origin of dreams is to be found in another time and place. She says dreams picture our longings. It is these pictures, she says, that shape our lives. It is the same for everyone she says (Clark, 96).
Thrand has repeated dreams that reflect his feelings of fear, guilt and other emotions. It is exactly through dreams and other semi-psychic experiences that the characters realize many things. Thrand slowly admits to himself his responsibility in Abidith’s brother’s death, and Abidith at the encouragement of her grandmother, uses her mind-reading abilities to seek insight into Thrand’s mind: “Wobee’s thoughts have been easy to find. Maybe he is human, as Grandmother says. I am surprised how easily some people’s thoughts are found while others remain lost” (Clark, 32).
It is obvious that the power of women is strong among the Beothuk. Not only through the power of dreams, storytelling and mind-reading, but also through the spiritual cleansing of dancing, as Abidith does, at first in her dreams and later as she assumes the official role of the Dancer of her tribe.
In regards to Laurence’s The Loons, there is not much to be said about cultural preservation. That story better reflects the loss of the Native culture than give any insight into it. Narrator Vanessa, has a limited interest in Piquette, until she realizes that she is in fact a Native person, an Indian:
My acquaintance with Indians was not extensive. I did not remember ever having seen a real Indian, and my new awareness that Piquette sprang from the people of Big Bear and Poundmaker, of Tecumseh, of the Iroquois who had eaten Father Brebeuf’s heart – all this gave her an instant attraction in my eyes (Laurence, 112).
As a result of her discovery, Vanessa tries to get Piquette to open up, in the childish hope that she will turn out to be a well of wisdom and information on Native culture. Evidently, her hopes are completely in vain, since Piquette does not even seem to be aware of what she hinting at, and assumes Vanessa is making some kind of insulting remark about the shack her family lives in. Clearly, as Vanessa thinks to her self in her disappointment, Piquette is as an Indian “a dead loss” (Laurence, 114). She represents a young generation of Natives that is completely out of touch with its cultural heritage and when that happens, the heritage, which is exclusively oral, is bound to disappear completely. Vanessa’s suggesting that she and Piquette go to see the loons, since soon it might be too late, is a symbolic reference to the sad disappearance of the Native culture:
There’s loons here on this lake. You can see their nests just up the shore there, behind those logs. At night, you can hear them even from the cottage, but it’s better to listen from the beach. My dad says we should listen and try to remember how they sound, because in a few years when more cottages are built at Diamond lake and more people come in, the loons will go away (Laurence, 114).

Feminine Sexuality of the Native Woman

Finally, in regards to feminism, it is of course not something discovered by the 1960’s ‘women’s movement’. The inequality of women in Western societies had been long before noticed and objected to by many. One strong example is John Stuart Mill’s essay ‘The Subjection of Women’ (1869) in which he strongly opposes the slave-like postion of women and states that:
[. . .] the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes – the legal subordination of one sex to the other – is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other” (Mill, 1156).
But the feminist literary criticism of today is of course a direct descendant of the 1960’s women’s liberation movement and as Barry notes in Beginning Theory, this movement was “literary from the start, in the sense that it realised the significance of the images of women promulgated by literature, and saw it as vital to combat them and question their authority and coherence” (Barry, 121).
When discussing female sexuality from a feminist point of view, it is unavoidable to wonder whether the notion of sexuality serves as a tool for women in enhancing their own position or whether it is more likely that it servers a key role in women’s subordination to men’s authority. As history tells us, the latter is very often unfortunately true. Many feminists claim that sexuality is a tool in the oppression of women or as Catharine McKinnon says in her article ‘Sexuality’: “[. . . ] sexuality is the main process by which the inequality of power that defines the difference between men and women operates” (McKinnon, 111). An example of this is the idea that sexual relations between men and women are still today built mostly around the sexual desires of men. Whether or not that is indeed the case, will not be fully answered here, but female sexuality and male lust are certainly evident to some extent in the three works being discussed here.
The Storyteller is most likely the most explicit and strongest example of the three, in the context of sexuality. As mentioned above, the girl lives with her grandmother and the old man, although the grandmother dies early on in the story. It is perhaps not literarily stated that the girl has sexual relations with the old man, but it is obvious that it is a fact of her life. There is abundant evidence for this. Firstly, after she realizes the truth about the Gussuck school, she decides to return home although her grandmother is by then dead. She knows that if she leaves with the priest, he will send her to school again, but “the old man was different. She knew he wouldn’t send her back to school. She knew he wanted to keep her” (Silko, 1147). There is something decidedly eerie about the choice of words here that immediately told me as a reader that he must have wanted to keep her for himself, so as she could serve his purpose, which later is indeed obviously a sexual one. This is made even clearer by the sentence stated just a bit later about how she had lost her patience with the old man “who had never changed his slow smooth motions under the blankets” (Silko, 1147). That the girl would rather choose to be a sexual toy for the old man rather than stay in school is also sad evidence to the abusive nature of such educational institutions that were inflicted on Native children.
As time goes by, the girl evidently starts having sexual relations with the Gussuck men that are working the oil drills, much to the old man’s outrage: “I can smell what you did all night with the Gussucks” (Silko, 1148). She uses her sexuality to seduce one of the white workers that are sitting around in the store, and starts having regular meetings with him. As I see it, she has double reason for doing this. She does it to gain access to the store (which was evidently off limits to Natives as a recreation facility) so as to plan better her revenge. Her parents died because a white store man sold them a poisonous alcohol beverage and she wants to avenge for them. She also does this to send the storekeeper a clear sexual signal. He sees her going with the oil drillers and that is enough to evoke thoughts in his mind about what he himself might be missing.
Although this seemingly degrading position she puts herself, to be sexually used by a white man as a semi-prostitute, does not seem to bother her as such. On the contrary, she seems to feel a sense of satisfaction in discovering the contents of the pornographic photo he always looks at while having sex with her. She even shares this information with the old man, much to his enjoyment. The picture reveals a woman with a big dog on top of her, something that further enhances the disgust the girl and old man already have for the white man’s habit of keeping their dogs in the houses with them[10]. That disgust and contempt they feel serves as a kind of soothing medicine on their own otherwise hopelessly low position in the social pecking order.
A third incident in which the girl uses her sexuality to gain her own means, is when she finally decides it is time to take action against the store man. She waits until the season of year is just right, so that the ice on the lake would serve her purpose. She then enters the store:
She sat down in the chair by the stove and shook her long hair loose. He was like a dog tied up all winter, watching the others got fed. He remembered how the she had gone with the oil drillers, and his blue eyes moved like flies crawling over her body (Silko, 1154).
Whether the girl’s sexuality serves her own purpose or that of the men in the story is rather difficult to say. Certainly the story can be seen as a kind of feminine victory over white, male supremacy, with her successfully completing her revenge mission and getting away with murder in the court of the whites. But there is something inherently sad about her fate and her utter disregard to her own body and sexuality as something sacred. Perhaps because she was never taught to respect her own body, it was simply used by the old man to satisfy his sexual lust, she saw nothing wrong with continuing to use her body as a mere tool to serve her own purposes.
When looking at The Loons or The Dream Carvers, it most be considered that those two works are meant for children or young adults. Therefore there are no explicit descriptions of sex to be found in them, but certainly sexuality does come to play in both.
In The Dream Carvers, Thrand slowly becomes infatuated by the girl Abidith and even though she hates him, her sexuality and physical appearance has a definite attraction for him as can be seen is his words: “I feel awkward around her since I see that she is more woman than girl, just as I am more man than boy” (Clark, 31). He furthermore describes her sleeping form as “curved and soft” (Clark, 36), a clear reference to her womanly features and sexuality.
But as the story unfolds, it becomes evident that Abidith is not to be Thrand’s spouse, but a sister figure, and that makes sense since he was taken by the Beothuk to replace her dead brother. There is another female that becomes a romantic figure in Thrand’s life and this is Ahune, a young girl of another tribe. She is not really of interest to Thrand to begin with, since his interest lies with Abidith, and as far as sexuality goes, this is not very explicit as said before. But Ahune is nevertheless a strong female figure with very determined ideas of a future marriage with Thrand whether he likes it or not. [11] She blatantly exclaims that she does not intent to wait forever to marry him and her frankness and forwardness astound Thrand: “I think about Ahune’s declaration that she would marry me. I smile at her forthrightness, at her willingness to challenge me. As a companion, Ahune would never be dull, she would always be surprising me” (Clark, 200). Thrand’s admiration of her also shows a lack of chauvinism on his part, as he clearly sees the qualities of not having a submissive wife, but one with a will of her own. At any rate, Ahune’s assertiveness seems to have its effect because at the end of the novel , when Thrand has finally come to terms with his new life as a member of the Beothuk people, he takes a comb he originally meant for Abidith and re-carves it:
I have also scraped away the mast. In its place I am carving the figure of a woman standing in the canoe, a woman who looks at me with a clear, unfaltering gaze. I am in no hurry to finish the comb, knowing it will be a long time before our next summer gathering beside the western sea. When that time comes, I will seek out Ahune and give her the comb (Clark, 224).
In comparison to the two above-mentioned works, in The Loons the sexuality of Piquette seems to serve absolutely no purpose other than leading her to her doom. Of course, her disposition is rather bleak from the beginning so it comes as no surprise that her sexuality only seems to enhance her problems. Vanessa recalls meeting Piquette at the age of seventeen and how she was astounded by the way the latter had changed in appearance:
Her face, so stolid and expressionless before, was animated now with a gaiety that was almost violent. She laughed and talked very loudly with the boys around her. Her lipstick was bright carmine, and her hair was cut short and frizzily permed. She had not been pretty as a child, and she was not pretty now, for her features were still heavy and blunt. But her dark and slightly slanted eyes were beautiful, and her skin-tight skirt and orange sweater displayed to enviable advantage a soft and slender body (Laurence, 116).
Piquette has made her entrance into the adult world of sexuality and made a rather drastic transformation from crippled, badly dressed girl to that of a fully- fledged woman dripping with sexuality. She even tells Vanessa about how she has found a white boyfriend to whom she binds all her hopes for a better life. But as her beginning is tragic, so is her end. Vanessa later discovers to her surprise that Piquette is dead and how sad her life was. Evidently the dream marriage did not work very well and Piquette returned to her hometown with two small children. She was overweight, badly dressed and with a drinking problem. Both she and children perished in a fire due to her own drunken state shortly after.
Obviously these three works all represent female sexuality in different ways and it simply a matter of interpretation as to how one chooses to see the purpose it serves in each one. If one chooses to look at them as presenting female sexuality in a negative way, it probably is because it never can serve a purpose enhancing for women if it is always viewed in connection to male sexuality, which is the case in all three as can be seen by reading the analysis above.

Final Words

In conclusion to what has already been said, it might be of interest to briefly look over the answers that have been found by contrasting and comparing the above-mentioned works and the personal emotions and feelings they have evoked in me as a reader. All of them are similar up to the extent of tackling the history, background and cultures of Native Canadians, each one in its one way of course. Margaret Laurence’s The Loons, is perhaps the least interesting from that point of view, since, as has been mentioned before, it offers no real insight into the Native Canadian life except from the viewpoint of a white girl that confesses herself to know little to nothing about Native culture. It is a beautifully written story, with a sense of personal and cultural tragedy throughout, but it offers very little sense of hope or feeling that anything might be salvaged that has been lost by colonization. In fact, I found it quite depressing.
On the other hand, Joan Clark’s The Dream Carvers is a much more optimistic story that focuses on the necessity to respect different cultures than our own. The author descriptions of the Beothuk are beautiful, realistic and give a sense that the red ochre people have been brought to life, at least for the time it takes the reader to finish the novel. Clark not only shows this now lost tribe respect by trying to portray their ancient way of life, she also uses an interesting twist to help the reader to better understand how it is to be subaltern and forced to denounce one’s own culture. Through Thrand, those readers that are not of Native origin can perhaps better experience how it must feel to be assimilated into a completely new culture by force. Although Thrand in the end feels content over his fate, it is impossible not to feel strong sympathy for a fourteen-year-old boy torn away from family and friends and completely disconnected to his culture.
Leslie Marmon Silko’s The Storyteller is in my opinion the best example of the relationship between the white supremacy and Native culture. The story offers, as said before, a deep insight into the Native culture and background and that is perhaps due to the author’s personal Native roots. Not only is the story beautifully written, it uses language in such away that better shows the Native way of thinking. Just the fact that the main character (as all other characters) is never given a name, gives the story a feeling of peculiar detachment to the personal and emphasis the importance many Native cultures put on the harmony of the whole.
As an afterthought to the use of language or the choice of a mode of expression that might serve the Native purpose the best, I want to mention one last thing. As is mentioned in Key Concepts it is mentioned how Gayatri Spivak in the essay ‘Can the subaltern speak?’ claims that “in most cases the dominant language or mode of presentation is appropriated so that the marginal voice can be heard” (219). I cannot help but agree. The statement that the “subaltern cannot speak” does not mean that the subaltern culture has no means of expressing itself or rebelling, but that unfortunately, since it is subaltern it will be forced to use the means of the dominant culture to do so, otherwise the message is doomed to be unheard or not understood by those who need the most to understand it: the dominant culture. The Storyteller in itself as a whole is a good example of this. Silko is raising some very important questions about the importance of the preservation of the oral tradition with this story and pointing out many of the injustices and cruelties that indigenous people have gone through, but she does not use the oral tradition herself to get this message across. How could she anyway? She has to use the literary tradition as her form of expression to be heard.
The girl does not use the dominant language or tradition to her advantage so her intentions seem to be lost on the Gussucks. The lawyer does not understand her actions or motives when she has been arrested and refuses to say that the killing was an accident. So the question is, are her deeds completely futile because she persists to use her own language and culture instead of the dominant one? I think not because even though the Gussucks do not understand her, she will as the new storyteller help sustain the oral tradition of her own people, and thereby strengthening her own culture.


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Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, editors. Key Concepts in Post-
Colonial Studies. London and New York. Routledge. 1998.
Clark, Joan. The Dream Carvers. Toronto. Puffin Canada. 1995.
Kemp, Tom. “The marxist theory of imperialism”. Studies in the Theory of
Imperialism. Editors Roger Owen & Bob Sutcliffe. London. Longman
Group Limited. 1972. 15-33.
Kaplan, Cora. “Pandora’s box: subjectivity, class and sexuality in socialist
feminist criticism”. Making a Difference: Feminist Literary Criticism. Editors Gayle Greene and Coppélia Kahn. London and New York. Methuen. 1985. 146-175.
King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. London. New English
Library. 2001.
Laurence, Margaret. “The Loons”. A Bird in the House. Toronto, Ontario.
McClelland & Stewart Inc. 1989. 108-120.
Magdoff, Harry. “Imperialism without colonies”. Studies in the Theory of
Imperialism. Editors Roger Owen & Bob Sutcliffe. London. Longman
Group Limited. 1972. 144-169.
McKinnon, Catharine. “Sexuality”. Knowing Women. Editors Helen Crowley and
Susan Himmelweit. Milton Keynes. Polity Press in Association with The
Open University. 1992.
Mill, John Stuart. “The Subjection of Women”. The Norton Anthology of English
Literature: The Victorian Age. Volume 2B. Seventh Edition. New York -.
London. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2000. 1137-1165.
Olaussen, Maria. Three Types of Feminist Criticism. Åbo, Finland. Åbo Akademis
tryckeri. 1992.
Voices From the Gaps: Women Writers of Color. http://voices.cla.umn.edu/newsite/

[1] The red ochre people is deducted from the tradition of the Beothuk to cover their bodies, hair and belongings with a special kind of red clay which most likely served a purpose of sun or insect protection as well as having a spiritual meaning.
[2] The ‘Gussucks’ is a term the Natives used for the white people.
[3] The old man evidently was the spouse of her grandmother but he is not the girl’s grandfather.
[4] At least by those Natives that are refusing to be assimilated, as is the case with the girl.
[5] Vanessa McLeod is a white girl and the narrator of The Loons. It is through her eyes that we witness Piquette’s tragic life’s story.
[6] This is not to say that all colonized cultures were non-literary. Parts of Africa, India and various other cultures had a strong literary tradition. European cultures are very focused on their literacy but also have a vast oral tradition.
[7] The grandmother obviously has her own specific powers. The children in the village “ran when her grandmother came” (Silko, 1146). The parka represents the grandmother’s power (or status) and she passes this on to the girl by leaving her the parka.
[8] Wobee is the name Thrand is given by the Beothuk.
[9] Thrand is responsible for the death of Abidith’s brother.
[10] There are a number of incidents that show a definite likeness between the dogs and the white man as seen through the Native eye.
[11] Although her determination to marry Thrand might seem ridiculous to us since she is only twelve years old, it must not be disregarded that at twelve, a girl of that time and place might be considered of a marital age.

þriðjudagur, maí 16, 2006

Kennari: Arna

Jón Sigurðsson og Ingibjörg Einarsdóttir

José Luis Nunez Altuna
Vorönn 2006
Ástæða þess að ég vil skrifa um Jón Sigurðsson og konu hans Ingibjörgu Einarsdóttir er sú að þau voru mjög mikilvægar persónur í sögu Íslands. Jón Sigurðsson var oft kallaður ,,Jón forseti” en hann gegndi þí aldrei forsetaembætti, enda Ísland ekki sjálfstætt land í hans tíð heldur laut stjórn Danaveldis. Jón hlaut þessa heiðursnafnbót vegna þess merkilega starfs sem hann var ábyrgur fyrir varðandi sjálfstæðisbaráttu Íslendinga. Hugmyndir hans varðandi hvernig best væri að fara að í baráttu þjóðarinnar fyrir sjálfstæði voru frábærar og oftar en ekki hafði hann á réttu að standa um flest það sem átti eftir að gerast síðar. Þetta er ástæða þess að ég vil skrifa um hann en hún er líka sú að ég var mjög heillaður af sögu hans og Ingibjargar og hvernig þau náðu saman sem par.

Jón Sigurðsson var fæddur á Hrafneyri við Arnarfjörð þann 17. júní árið 1811. Hann lést þann 7.desember 1879. Foreldrar hans voru Sigurður Jónsson prestur og kona hans Þórdís Jónsdóttir húsmóðir. Ingibjörg Einarsdóttir var fædd 9. október 1804 og lést 16.desember 1879. Foreldrar hennar voru Einar Jónssons og Ingveldur Jafetsdóttir.
Jón gekk menntaveginn og lauk stúdentsprófi árið 1829 í heimaskóli hjá séra Gunnlaugi Oddssyni. Í framhaldi af því stundaði hann verslunarstörf í Reykjavík í eitt ár hjá Einari föðurbróður sínum og á þeim tíma kynntist hann frænku sinni Ingibjörgu. Þau urðu ástfangin og trúlofuðust. Síðan gerðist Jón skrifari hjá Steingrími Jónssyni biskup í Laugarnesi 1830-1833. Á þessum stað hafði Jón aðgang að stóru bókasafni og einu mesta safni handrita og skjala sem Ísland átti á þeim tíma og því er nokkuð ljóst að vera hans hjá biskup mótaði skoðanir hans og lífssýn gífurlega mikið. Sá áhugi sem hann hafði haft á íslenskum fræðum og öllu sem var rammíslenskt jókst til muna á þessum árum og Jón hafði tækifæri til þess að leggja fyrir launin sín.
Þegar veru Jóns lauk í biskupsgarði hélt hann til Kaupmannahafnar og innritaðist í Hafnarháskólann. Þar lagði hann stund á málfræði, sögu, hagfræði og stjórnfræði, en hann þurfti að vinna fyrir sér sjálfur og náði aldrei að ljúka sínu embættisprófi. Önnur ástæða þess að hann lauk aldrei sínum prófum var ef til vill sú að hann varð fljótlega mjög upptekinn af öllu sem tengdist íslenskum þjóðmálum og tók það upp mikinn tíma hans. Það merkilega í þessu öllu er að Jón snéri ekki aftur til Íslands í heil tólf ár og allan þann tíma beið Ingibjörg eftir honum í festum og hlýtur það að þykja ótrúlegt umburðarlyndi og þolinmæði! Það var ekki fyrr en að Jón kom heim árið 1845 til þess að setja á hinu nýendurreista Alþingi að hann og Ingibjörg giftust í Dómkirkjunni. Hún var þá orðin 41 árs en hann 34 ára.
Ingibjörg og Jón bjuggu síðan allan sinn búskap í Kaupmannahöfn og það var einmitt þaðan sem Jón svo að segja stjórnaði sjálfstæðisbaráttu Íslendinga næstu fjörtíu árin. Þrátt fyrir að þau hafi alltaf búið í Danmörku þá ferðuðust þau mjög oft til Íslands eða um 29 sinnum, og það oft á mjög misgóðum skipakostum. Jón var svo ótrúlega vinsæll á meðal landsmanna sinna að það hefur eflaust enginn verið í sambandi við eins marga Íslendinga og hann var, en varðveist hafa yfir 6 þúsun sendibréf sem hann geymdi frá um 870 mismunandi skrifurum. Það er ekki undrandi að hann hafi verið vinsæll og vinmargur því hann veigraði sér ekki við því að hjálpa samlöndum sínum og ganga ýmiss erinda fyrir þá í Kaupmannahöfn. Einnig var hann mjög útsmogin varðandi fjármál og gat oftast liðsinnt blönkum vinum sem þurftu á fjármálaráðgjöf að halda. Jón vann svo fyrir sér og konu sinni með ýmis konar vísindastörfum á Árnasafni þar sem hinn fornu íslensku handrit voru geymd. Sú vinna sem hann sinnti þar er út af fyrir sig frábær enda var hann í alla staði skipulagður við störf sín.
Jón kom skoðunum sínum helst á framfæri í gegnum málgagn sitt, Ný félagsrit, en þar skrifaði hann um þau hugðarefni sem stóðu hjarta hans næst. Hann vildi endilega allt það besta fyrir land sitt og þjóð og taldi Íslendinga eiga rétt á málfrelsi, atvinnufrelsi, stjórnfrelsi, kjörfrelsi og verslunarfrelsi. En hann var þó skynsamur í frelsisskoðunum sínum vegna þess að hann taldi að algjörlega ótakmarkað frelsi væri af hinu slæma og í raun ekkert nema stjórnleysi og agaskortur.
Jón var viss um það að Ísland hefði alla burði til þess að stjórna sér sjálft. Árið 1848 birti hann ritgerð sem hét ,,Hugvekja til Íslendinga” og í henni má segja að finnist stefnuskrá hans. Hann taldi að það væri óhæft að stýra Íslandi frá Danmörku og til þess að þjóðin gæti orðið sjálfstæð þá þyrfti Ísland að eiga aðskilinn fjárhag, fullt löggjafarvald, innlenda stjórn og bara algjört jafnrétti. Það er mikilvægt að gleyma því ekki að Jón var ekki að heimta algjöran aðskilnað frá Danmörku heldur bara aukin réttindi og það er eflaust þess vegna sem Danir tóku sönsum og gáfu Íslendingum smám saman réttindin. Ísland varð ekki fullkomlega sjálfstætt ríki fyrr en 1944 sem er löngu eftir að Jón var dáinn.
Árið 1851 var haldinn þjóðfundur þar sem Danir vildu setja Íslendingum nýja stjórnskipun og var þar tekið mjög lítið tillit til þess sem Íslendingar vildu. Á þessum fundi urðu tímamót í stjórnmálaferli Jóns en það var á þessum fundi þar sem allir íslensku fundarmennirnir stóðu upp og sögðu: ,,Við mótmælum allir!” Jón tók þvílíka forystu á þessum fundi að eftir hann fór það ekkert á milli mála hver var leiðtogi íslensku þjóðarinnar þegar kom að sjálfstæðisbaráttunni. Jón og forysta hans urðu meðal annars til þess að verslun við Íslendinga var gefin öllum frjáls árið 1855 enda taldi hann þetta vera nauðsynlegt til þess að Ísland yrði sjálfstætt land.

Jón var glæsimenni í alla staði, bæði andlega sem líkamlega og gáfnafar hans bar af. Hann var einstakur brautryðjandi og ef hans hefði ekki notið við er óvíst hvað hefði gerst ef hans hefði ekki notið við þegar Íslendingar börðust fyrir sjálfstæði sínu. Hann og Ingibjörg kona hans áttu engin börn en það var víst einn samtímamaður þeirra sem sagði að ,,allir Íslendingar væru börn þeirra”. Jón var forseti Kaupmannahafnar- deildar Bókmenntafélagsins og hlaut af því viðurnefnið forseti. En ég trúi því að hann hafi líka verið kallaður forseti sem einkonar heiðursnafnbót því að ég er viss um að ef Íslendingar hefðu getað haft sinn eigin forseta á þessum tíma, þá hefðu þeir valið Jón frekar en nokkurn annan mann. Þau hjónin létust með mjög stuttu millibili í Kaupmannahöfn, en voru jörðuð í kirkjugarðinum við Suðurgötu í Reykjavík. Seinna meir var afmælisdagur Jóns, 17.júní, gerður að þjóðhátíðardegi Íslendinga þegar lýðveldi var loksins stofnað árið 1944. Ég er líka viss um að Jón átti þann heiður fullkomlega skilinn.



mánudagur, maí 15, 2006

Þýtt og endursagt af Nínu Rúnu Kvaran

Afhjúpun lygarans:
Listin að koma upp um lygalaupa

Í kvikmyndinni ,,True Romance”, rétt áður en Christopher Walken skýtur Dennis Hopper í höfuðið fyrir að skrökva, þá heldur hinn illi Walken fyrirlestur yfir fórnarlambi sínu um hinar 17 aðferðir Sikileyinga til þess að sjá hvort að maður er að ljúga. Hvort þetta er sikileysk staðreynd eða aðeins uppspuni handritshöfundarins Tarantino skiptir kannski ekki sköpum, en það er aftur á móti staðreynd að það er hægt að koma upp um lygalaupa.
Fylgist með handahreyfingum
,,Lygarar reyna alltaf að leggja áherslu á orð sín með ýktum handahreyfingum. Það dregur athyglina frá andlitinu og gerir orðin áhrifameiri”, segir David Taylor sálfræðilegur ráðgjafi. ,,Þetta er ósjálfrátt varnarkerfi sem á að vinna gegn því að upp um fólk komist en er í raun mjög uppljóstrandi ef menn eru meðvitaðir um það.”
Hlustið á takt orðræðunnar
Þegar fólk lýgur þá afbakar það vanalega á einn eða annan hátt sína eigin vanalegu orðræðu. ,,Setningar sem leiða að lyginni eru oft sagðar í flýti þar sem fólk er oftast óþreyjufullt að koma sér að sjálfri lyginni”, segir Diane Kingsley talmeinafræðingur. ,,Að lyginni lokinni fellur taktur orðræðunnar aftur í eðlilegt horf.”
Prófið minnið
,,Tilgangur lyganna er að koma fólki úr vandræðum og þegar lygin er sögð þá á hún það til að falla fljótt í gleymsku”, segir þjónustufulltrúinn Alice Mulcahy. ,,Ef mig grunar að fólk sé að ljúga í viðtölum hjá mér, þá legg ég atvikið á minnið og varpa því síðan fram seinna og bið fólk að segja mér nánar frá því. Ef viðkomandi var að ljúga þá man hann oftast ekkert eftir því sem ég er að tala um.”
Hlustið á raddblæinn
Diane Kingsley talmeinafræðingur segir enn fremur: ,,Þegar fólk lýgur þá er því hættara við að vera meðvitað um sína eigin rödd og þá er sterk tilhneiging fyrir því að raddblærinn breyti um tónhæð, þó ekki sé nema í sekúndubrot. Það að tala er okkur vanalega svo eðlislægt að við tökum ekkert eftir því, en augnabliksálag með þurrk í munni og örari hjartslátt getur haft djúpstæð áhrif á röddina og valdið því að hún titrar örlítið eða brotnar jafnvel alveg.”
Leiddu lygarann í gildru
,,Við beitum okkar eigin blekkingum”, segir Simon Newman. ,,Þegar ég var í Devon & Cornwall lögreglunni þá þurftum við stundum að eiga við náunga sem komu frá London til þess að selja fíkniefni. Ef við tókum þá niður á stöð tiil yfirheyrslu þá áttu þeir það til að gefa okkur fölsk heimilisföng í nágrenninu til þess að sleppa. Þá sögðum við stundum: ,,Já, ég veit hvar þetta er, þarna rétt hjá keiluhöllinni?” Og þeir sögðu: ,,Já, einmitt” og vissu náttúrulega ekki að það var engin keiluhöll í bænum.”
Fylgist með augnsambandi
Það er óvenjulegt þegar fólk á í samræðum við einhvern og myndar ekki augnsamband, jafnvel þó ekki sé nema af og til og það staðfestir toll-og landamæravörður nokkur sem er orðinn gamall í hettunni: ,,Það er alltaf tilefni til tortryggni ef fólk myndar ekki augnsamband. Einu sinni lenti ég í því að maður sem ætlaði að keyra sendibíl í gegnum hliðin hjá okkur, bara myndaði alls ekkert augnsamband þegar ég talaði við hann. Hann virtist undrandi þegar við stoppuðum hann og báðum hann að fylgja okkur inn í tollskýlið en þegar málið var rannsakað frekar þá fundum við heilan farm af kössum fullum af tequila í bílnum”.
Varist flóttalegt augnaráð
,,Mitt starf felst mikið í því að hlusta á lygarnar í fólki”, segir einkaspæjarinn Tony Barnes, ,,en ég er með nánast 100% öruggt próf til að koma upp um það. Um leið og menn fara að skjóta augunum til vinstri þá veit ég að þeir ljúga. Fólk reynir að þykjast vera upptekið við að horfa á eitthvað en í raun er það bara að koma upp um sig.”
Hlustið eftir óhóflegum smáatriðum og staðreyndum
Simon Jodrell lögreglusálfræðingur hefur þetta að segja um málið: ,,Undir venjulegum kringumstæðum þá flæða staðreyndir eins og nöfn og staðarheiti eðlilega og hóflega fram í samtali. En í samræðum sem byggjast á blekkingum þá ræður lygarinn ekki við þörfina til þess að skreyta frásögn sína með einhverjum áþreifanlegum staðreyndum. Þannig að það sem þú heyrir er oft algjörlega ofskreytt og fullt af ónauðsynlegum upplýsingum sem troðið er inn í lygina til þess að gefa henni raunveruleikablæ.
Varist ofnotkun orðatiltækja
Með þessu er átt við að menn ættu að taka eftir mikilli notkun orðatiltækja eins og : ,,Þú veist hvað ég meina”, ,,sko” og ,,eða þannig”. Þau eru notuð til þess að fylla upp í þá þögn sem getur myndast þegar lygarinn tapar þræðinum vegna truflana eða skorts á þekkingu á því sem hann lýgur um. Þegar fólk lýgur og bullar þá vantar það oft þann grunn sem liggur í því að segja sannleikann og þarfnast tíma til þess að hugsa upp lygina og þann tíma fyllir það upp með tilgangslausum orðatiltækjum.

sunnudagur, maí 14, 2006

Poema IV
Amor interesado

No he olvidado,
Lo que me dijiste
En aquél lugar que ya no existe
Sólo sé que te aburriste, cuando
Por primera vez me viste.

Te digo que no fue un chiste
Por lo que me hiciste
Es obvio que me encuentre triste
Te juro que ya me perdiste.

Si por dinero te vendiste
Que te valla bien lo que elegiste
Por tus palabras que no cumpliste
Ya mi cuerpo no lo resiste.

Autor: Lázaro Luis Núñez Altuna.

Poema V

Si algún día me marchara de
Tu lado, no será porque lo halla
Deseado, quisiera ser tu hombre
Amado, aunque no esté a tu lado.

Mis palabras no han cambiado
Aunque tú lo hallas pensado
Juro que sigo enamorado
Por el tiempo que a pasado.

Si algún día te extraviaras
Indagaré por todo el mundo
Corriendo como un vagabundo
Hasta quedar moribundo.

Autor: Lázaro Luis Núñez Altuna

Poema VI

Cuando las suaves brisas
Acaricien tu cuerpo.
Piensa que será mi aliento.
El que te acaricia.

Cuando el sol queme
Nuestros cuerpos y haga brillar
Nuestras almas, susurraré en
Tus oídos, que bello y lindo es el amor.

Con qué amor, con qué alegría
Nuestros corazones se encuentran
Día a día, pero muy tristes se quedan
Cuando eligen diferentes caminos.

Cuando me aleje de tu lado
No llores ni sufras, piensa
Que por más lejos que me encuentre
Siempre estarás en mi mente.

Autor: Lázaro Luis Núñez Altuna