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[edit] Volume 1

[edit] Chapters 1-4

The first introduction we receive of the Indigenous peoples in the eyes of the British is their inability to cooperate and the difficulty the British had controlling the Indigenous peoples. The powerful roles which the British assumed grew along with the “distrust and jealousy” in their relationship with the natives.

The repeated diction of the word “savages” first appears in Chapter 3 of Wacousta when referring to the Indigenous peoples. This creates a particular image of them as the tone implied from the word “savages” suggests an underdeveloped, primal nature of the group. This connotation of the Indigenous as savages is exemplified in their spat with the British as their “cry denoted even something more than ordinary defiance of an Indian” (42). The type of scream that comes from the Indigenous peoples suggests they are something more than human, something more beastly that cannot be tamed but rather acts in more chaos than an Indian.

[edit] Chapter 5

Further, the battle between the Indigenous and the British in an attempt for the latter to save their fort is met with the cunning “demons” of the Indigenous peoples as they learn from the British and learn their tricks. The “Indians took courage at this circumstance, for they deemed the bullets of their enemies were expended” (63). This suggests that the Indigenous peoples have learnt from the British, but not in the way that the British had intended. They learned the sly nature of the British army which allowed them to understand and deceive the British themselves. This suggests that they have more than just primitive capabilities but that they also have complex minds. In this instance, the British struggle with their attempt at colonization and developing their land.

[edit] Chapters 6-7 / Summary

The imagery carried throughout Volume 1 of the primitive nature that the Indigenous peoples have, acts to reinforce the British in their mission to colonize with their developed lifestyle. The soldiers from the British settlement are seen as heroic for civilizing and saving the Indigneous peoples. Their constant fight adds to their validity as a person in a perceived humanitarian cause, such as “Sir Everard [who] would have fought twenty battles in the course of a month and yet not complained of the fatigue or severity of his service… We need scarcely state, Sir Everard’s theories on this important subject were seldom reduced to practice; for even long before the Indians had broken out into the open acts of hostility, when such precautions were rendered” (95-96). Sir Everard is willing to put his life on the line for what his country believes to be an important cause. While Sir Everard saw the effects first hand of the work he was doing, it is suggested that the people back in England could not fathom why someone would leave to engage with troublesome peoples. Sir Everard’s direct response to this lack of understanding by the British peoples is to “have an opportunity of bearing away the spoils of some chief, that, on his return to England, he might afford his lady mother an opportunity of judging with her own eyes of the sort of enemy he had relinquished the comforts of home to contend against” (96).

[edit] Volume 2

[edit] Chapter 1

This volume of the novel begins with outlining that “there was, however, no array of armed men within the walls, that denoted an expedition of a hostile character” (159). Contact is presented within an area of seemingly neutral territory. Differences between the European and Canadian culture then interrupt the point of contact when “in the midst of an anxious group of officers, comprising nearly all of that rank within the fort, stood two individuals, attired in a costume having nothing in common with the gay and martial habiliments of the former.” (159). “Each moreover wore a false queue of about nine inches in length, the effect which was completely to change the character of the countenance to the features a Canadian -like expression.” (160). This shows that this was a point in time when colonial logic was used to replicate Canada’s indigenous culture. This colonial logic was considered superior and “it was evident that some powerful and absorbing dread existed in the mind of each, inducing him rather to indulge in communion with his own thoughts and impressions, that to communicate them to others.” (161). The governor begins swaying the “gentlemen” by saying “I have spoken harshly to you, but at the moment like the present you will no longer cherish a recollection of the unpleasant past.” (162). This chapter portrays the Gothic mentality of viewing women as less then men by saying “’It is noting but a womans’, calmly returned the Canadian;” (165). The colonial attitude is prominent as well throughout the novel, particularly when it’s stated “’by Heaven, we are betrayed, - here he is’, quickly rejoined the other, in the same low tone.” (166). Automatically, the European agents who were posing as Canadian duck hunters fear they have been betrayed.

[edit] Chapter 2

The colonial mindset continues on into chapter 2 as “the positions of the young man was one of embarrassment; for while the daughter, who was busied in executing the command of her father, remained in the room, it was impossible they could converse together without being betraying the secret of their country, and as a result of this, the falsehood of character under which they appeared.” (170). This is a point in contact when a colonial mindset was portrayed. The soldiers had a garrison mentality. Later, through imperial eyes, the readers see the fear and anxiety that enabled the Canadians in disguise to think of the other as a possible traitor. “Could this be a refinement of his treachery? And was he really ignorant of the danger which threatened them?” “Tell me then as you hope for mercy, have you taken that oath only that ya might be more secrecy betray us to our enemies?” (176). The Gothic mentality is portrayed again in “you must forgive our suspicions at a moment like the present; yet Francois, your daughter saw and exchanged signals with the person we mean. She left the room soon after he made his appearance. What has become of her?” (177). This shows the notion leading to the imagination and thoughts of a ghostly or spiritual likeness.

[edit] Chapter 3

The colonial attitude in this chapter shows that “it was evident the views of these latter were not immediately hostile; for neither were they in their war paint, nor were their arms of description to carry intimidation to a disciplined and fortified soldiery.” (183). The author then speaks about weaponry: “bows, arrows, tomahawks, war clubs, spears, and scalping knives, constituted their warlike equipments, but neither rifle nor fire-arms of any kind were discernible” (183). Their trading is a key point when contact became effectual and colonialism was not successful because their weapons were used against them in upcoming battle between the Indigenous and the British at Fort Detroit and Michilimackinac.[1] “A flag of truce in all its bearings, by Jupiter!” is a remark by Captain Erskine which also displays a colonial attitude. The British peoples’ arrogance is palpable when saying “’Ponteac seems to have aquired a few lessons since we first met.’ ‘This is evidently the suggestion of some European.’ Observed Mayor Blackwater; ‘for how should he understand any thing of the nature of a white flag? Some of those vile spies have put him up to this.’” (185). The British often believe the Indigenous people have adapted their colonial ways because they are superior to the ways of the Indigenous culture. “’The Ottawa and the other chiefs are kings of all their tribes. The head of one great people should be received only by the head of another great people!’” (192-193). This shows that the greeting traditions and hierarchy are different between the two groups.

[edit] Chapter 4

The gothic mentality is present in this chapter as “the governor deemed it prudent not to press the question too closely, lest in so doing he should excite suspicion, and defeat his own object. ‘When will the Ottawa and the other chiefs come again?’ he asked; ‘and when will their warriors play at ball upon the common, that the Saganaw may see them and be amused?’” (206). The British truly believe that trickery would help them to invade the Indigenous nations on their next encounter. The thought think they could blind the Indigenous people with their kindness. The quote “no more forts upon the lakes...spared their lives” on page 196 introduces the disagreement about their arrangement. The fact that they were “cut off from all communication” displays the issues they experienced and their negative opinion toward having to communicate directly through the “Indians” (196).

[edit] Chapter 5

The Indigenous people gain fortune through survival. “This, therefore, was an important and unexpected benefit, derived from the falling in of the garrison with the professed views of the savages; and one which, perhaps, few officers would, like Colonel de Haldimar, have possessed the forethought to have secured” (208). The provision supplied by the Indigenous were considered a necessity to survive the Canadian wilderness.

[edit] Chapter 6

The colonial mindset that the British do not include women on the battle fields is displayed in this chapter. “Interspersed among these warriors were a nearly equal number of squaws.” (220). “They were the warriors who had so recently been engaged in the manly yet innocent exercise of the ball; but, instead of the harmless hurdle, each now carried a short gun in one hand and a gleaming tomahawk in the other” (226). This acts as another example where the European mindset would not allow them to see any advantage of this encounter other than their own benefit. [2] Another point in the novel when the colonial mindset was rendered unsuccessful is “the surprise of the Indians on reaching this point, was now too powerful to be dissembled; and, incapable either of advancing or receding, they remained gazing on the scene before them with an air of mingled stupefaction, rage, and alarm” (225). Even if only for a short time, there were flaws in this mindset. The colonial mindset presents a sense of righteousness when “their course lay between the two lines of squaws; and scarcely had the head of the bounding Indians reached the opposite extremity of those lines, when the women suddenly threw back their blankets, and disclosed each a short gun and a tomahawk“ (228). It was their flawed mindset that led them to believe they were in a position of power and could not be ambushed.

[edit] Chapter 7

Frederick's discovery leads to a fallacious belief that Indian leaders have similar ambitions of British imperialist powers because they want to be “respected”. Through imperial eyes, “he pointed out the tediousness of the warfare in which they were engaged; the desertion of the hunting-grounds by their warriors; and their consequent deficiency in all those articles of European traffic which they were formerly in the habit of receiving in exchange for their furs… instead of being treated with the indignity of a conquered people, they would be enabled to command respect from the imposing attitude this final crowning of their successes would enable them to assume” (249). This exposes the boundary between “us” and “them”, governing inherent cultural difference within the realm of imperialist command. The fear of being different forces Indigenous people to alter their values in order to receive recognition as humans.

[edit] Chapter 8

“Captain de Haldimar had none of the natural weakness and timidity of character which belonged to the gentler and more sensitive Charles. Sanguine and full of enterprise, he seldom met evils half way; but when they did come, he sought to master them by the firmness and collectedness with which he opposed his mind to their infliction. If his heart was now racked with the most acute suffering - his reason incapacitated from exercising its calm deliberative power, the seeming contradiction arose not from any deficiency in his character, but was attributable wholly to the extraordinary circumstances of the moment” (254-255). Despite this loss of power and influence, the narrative clearly shows a European economy of desire by describing the character of Captain de Haldimar this way. His mindset is still yielded with power to "move" the Indian guide. Colonial desire to dominate aesthetically is apparent when stated “never was a kiss less premeditated, less unchaste. Gratitude, not passion, had called it forth; and had Madeline de Haldimar been near at the moment, the feeling that had impelled the seeming infidelity to herself would have been regarded as an additional claim on her affection. On the whole, however, it was a most unfortunate and ill-timed kiss, and, as is often the case under such circumstances, led to the downfall of the woman. In the vivacity of his embrace, Captain de Haldimar had drawn his guide so far forward upon the log, that she lost her balance, and fell with a heavy and reverberating crash among the leaves and dried sticks that were strewed thickly around” (260). Bringing Madeline de Haldimar into the discussion ranks Oucanasta under the European framework of desire which distinguishes her from his social structure by reaffirming Madeline de Haldimar’s good judgement.

[edit] Chapter 9

De Haldimar displays his righteousness when he says to Wacousta, "’if you are in reality a French officer,’ he said, ‘and not an Englishman, as your accent would denote, the sentiments you have now avowed may well justify the belief, that you have been driven with ignominy from a service which your presence must eternally have disgraced. There is no country in Europe that would willingly claim you for its subject’” (266). Wacousta is painted as an immoral embarrassment. He is unacceptable because he violates European civility and his consonant resistance to the ideal of imperial domination highly excludes him from a “civilised nature”.

[edit] Chapter 10

“Nothing could be more unlike the embellishments of a modern European boudoir than those of this apartment.....Nor did the walls alone reflect back the picture of savage ingenuity, for on the various tables, the rude polish of which was hid from view by the simple covering of green baize, which moreover constituted the garniture of the windows, were to be seen other products of their art” (292-293). Miss de Haldimars accommodation displayed an acknowledged standard of beauty that represented material concerns of domestication and settlement. In contrast to Ellen, Madeline de Haldimar does not turn ‘savage’. Instead, she embraces the dress and habits of the Indigenous people. She displays these costumes as art and “Indian ingenuity”, portraying the cunning intelligence of the colonial mindset (292). When Clara de Haldimar talks about the First Nation chiefs, she says “I hope… that none of those horrid chiefs will be present… I feel that I could not so far overcome my disgust as to sit at the same table with them” (301). Readers are encouraged to seek the downfall of the First Nations and consider the preconceived notions of Indigenous people in Canada portrays the thoughts of an average European at that time. Richardson uses Clara to describe the alienated notion of how an average European viewed First Nations. “While the sight was offended at the savage, skulking among the trees of the forest, like some dark spirit moving cautiously in its course of secret destruction, and watching the moment when he might pounce unnoticed on his unprepared victim, it followed, with momentary pleasure and excitement, the activity and skill displayed by the harmless paddler, in the swift and meteor-like race that set the troubled surface of the Huron in a sheet of hissing foam” (286). The problem of power dynamics is transposed into the context of a colonial theme. The “harmless paddler[s]” are Indigenous people who accept their assigned systematic economic role as inferior to the whites (286). This aligns with the picture of a Eurocentric view. In contrast, the narrator's peripheral vision sets the sail to be “offended at the savagery” which is depicted in Wacousta and nature cherished by the natives. This threatens the margins of colonized terrain.

[edit] Chapter 11

“The confusion of the garrison had now reached its acme of horror. The shrieks of women and the shrill cries of children, as they severally and fruitlessly fled from the death certain to overtake them in the end, - the cursings of the soldiers, the yellings of the Indians, the reports of rifles, and the crashings of tomahawks” (310). This represents the brutal horrors of the massacre were not associated with remorse or any state of mourning. It is instead described that “the sun shone in yellow lustre, and all Nature smiled, and wore an air of calm, as if the accursed deed had had the sanction of Heaven, and the spirits of light loved to look upon the frightful atrocities then in perpetration” (310). This pathetic fallacy depicts a new beginning of development on colonized land after slaughtering the natives.

[edit] Chapter 12

“’Hookynaster!--Hookynaster!’ growled Jack Fuller, who had followed to hear the examination of his immediate captive: ‘why, your honour, that jaw-breaking name reminds me as how the chap had a bit of a paper when I chucked him into the jolly boat, stuck in his girdle’” (329). Fuller’s insult by misnaming Oucanasta as ‘Hookynaster!’ accurately reflects their perception of Indigenous populations and reveals a racial attitude through phonetic mistreatment. “Hooky” represents a hook that can be bent or snapped, while ‘naster’ bluntly refers to nasty; defining filthiness in a disrespectful and offensive manner.

[edit] Volume 3

[edit] Chapters 1-2

A connection between man and the spiritual world gives light to another type of contact when it’s stated to “bear a hand, and tell us all about this here ghost” (345). “Imagination itself would find difficulty in supplying the harrowing effect upon all, when, with upraised hands, and on her bended knees, her large eyes turned wildly up to heaven, she invoked in deep and startling accents the terrible retribution of a just God on the inhuman murderers of her father, with whose life-blood her garments were profusely saturated… she alone had been singled out to survive the bloody tragedy” (348). This represents the contact between man and faith were largely based upon colonial beliefs and values. Christianity is being challenged. Within the idea of contact and colonization, the readers begin to see one culture supporting another when Clara “found herself in the firm grasp of an Indian, whose features even in the hasty and fearful glance she cast at the countenance, she fancied were not unfamiliar to her” (360).

[edit] Chapter 3

A key point in time is when Charles de Haldimar is assured contact with his long-lost brother. “It is supposed he bears some message from my brother” (383). However, it turns out this contact was not successful as the governor points out, “he observed, smiling in mournful bitterness, ‘it has been conveyed to us not in mercy but in revenge’” (388).

[edit] References

Richardson, John. Wacousta, or, The Prophecy; A Tale of the Canadas. Carleton University Press Inc, 1987.

[edit] Notes

  1. This highlights a time in the novel that colonialism prevents a successful experience of contact.
  2. This is another key moment when colonialism was unsuccessful. The is a point when early colonialism failed the British.
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