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Thomas King’s “Borders”, written in 1993, is a short fiction story showing an indirect characterization about Mother. The story allows the reader to understand the difficulties Mother encounters, of not disclosing the citizenship of the country she belongs to. However, taking the pride, of showcasing the cultural identity as ‘Blackfoot’. Identically overcomes the various difficulties faced during that phase of life. This short story explains the pride that Mother takes for being a ‘Blackfoot’.
The theme of the story is set to be misread/misidentified and is an irony showing the conflicts between identity and the belonging love. The beginning of the story tells that it is rare for young women to leave the reserve for no reason, “She had not, as my Mother liked…hadn’t been pregnant”. It tells that, young girls usually leave if they’re after some boy, or if they’re pregnant. It’s not common for someone to simply leave, because Letitia [She] found a job. The story is about a Mother who wants to meet her daughter staying in the Salt Lake City in the U.S. The main setting of the story is at the U.S. border where Mother is questioned and is refused an entry into the U.S. because of not disclosing her citizenship.
The Mother is considered to be the cause of conflicts in “Borders”. She is a very stubborn lady with a narrow thinking concerning to the things other than her native community. She doesn’t state that whether she is a Canadian or an American while struggling to cross the border, in this way starting an argument with the border guards. With a number of tries by the border guards, the Mother has a fixed single answer for her identity i.e “Blackfoot”.
Mother is portrayed as a protagonist. It isn’t specifically expressed in the story, yet the story pushes further and explains that the Mother, wants to meet her daughter in the Salt Lake City in the U.S., driving to the U.S. border, the Mother is asked over and again by the border guards, yet she doesn’t disclose her citizenship and rather tells them that she is a “Blackfoot” and her daughter in the U.S is a “Blackfoot” as well. The time, when asking her more than once about her citizenship, to one point explains that Mother is stubborn and tough.
The author in a conversation with Stella, tells her “ ‘We were Blackfoot and Canadian’ ”. But the author is not counted because he is a “Minor” (137). The author is a child who is unreliable. Stella tells the author that, if Mother doesn’t disclose her citizenship, they will have to return to where they came from. Mother being stubborn and tough, refuses to reveal the citizenship and turns to the car and drove back to the Canadian border.
Driving back to the Canadian border, Mother is inquired the same way as the U.S. border. Mother says she’s not an American or a Canadian but a “Blackfoot”. The Round character in this story is Mother because she is proud about her native community. From those points of attention. The first three guards are from America, and none of them shows sympathy or consideration to Mother, yet the fourth one who is from Canada does. Some of the TV people were at the border and talked to Mother after which at some point late, Mother was allowed to enter the U.S.
Letitia assumes that the Salt Lake City was “One of the natural wonders of the world”. Her attitude towards Blackfoot changes, after she saw her mother’s story at the border on TV, she feels so proud of her mom that she wants to hear the story over and over; even better, she tells her mother that she is thinking about moving back to Blackfoot.
Mothers are a symbol of love, care, strength and hope, but one does not know the care and love, what a Mother expresses. The Mother is loyal to her native community. She stayed faithful to the reserve, until the guards lastly let her cross the border. In the story “Borders” by Thomas King, pride is a quality that can be developed in a character and its belief is to protect the pride and give equality to every community.
Over the past decade, the rights of Indigenous people have improved. Unfortunately, some rights and freedoms have not yet seen any improvement at all, and some have even worsened. Thomas King’s ‘Borders’ is a short story demonstrating self-identity and the national pride of Indigenous people. Throughout the story, readers realize the theme is set to showcase the self-identity of the Mother and her difficulties of portraying herself as a ‘Blackfoot.’ However, pride plays a vital role in aboriginal nationality, provoking conflicts of identity, and the many privileges that were, unfortunately, lost.
To begin, the author uses a storytelling method to demonstrate how aboriginals inherit cultural information from one generation to another, and this information is a source of immense pride. Furthermore, this brings readers to the role of pride. Pride plays an essential role in BORDERS; the main character Mother, always insists on her cultural heritage despite the possibility to lie. For example, ‘Blackfoot, Blackfoot,’ my Mother repeated. ‘Canadian?’ ‘Blackfoot’ (King 133). Indeed, Mother is a very stubborn character; she symbolizes love and is a caring figure to her children; she is loyal to her aboriginal inheritance and faithful to her reserves. Nowadays, Aboriginals have lost their symbols of being First Nations; the world has shown a high amount of discrimination towards First Nation people. Throughout the story, even when everyone was against her, she stood her grounds; she was proud of her nationality. Thus indicates the importance of respecting the founders of our land; hence the world grew up forgetting the roots of our tree.
Secondly, Border demonstrates an actual example of the difficulties most aboriginals go through; in fact, many go through a transformation in their identity. This difficulty is shown within the protagonist Mother and her beliefs. As a Blackfoot, she could easily refer to herself as a Canadian, but she knows her true identity and will not let go of it. She said, ‘The side of the Blackfoot’ (King 82); she decides to respect her cultural heritage, and this shows the trouble Aboriginal people must go through. Apparently, the cultural identity transformation was shown by Laetitia exhibits through her lack of awareness. Leaving the cultural reserve and refusing to speak ‘Blackfoot’ by doing this she is disclaiming her origins and her true identity. Consequently, society forces mixed races to pick a side in order to survive. ‘This begs the question, what is considered a mainstream culture? However, what if you do not want to pick sides, like mother. Furthermore, caught in the no-man ‘s-land between two countries, which is an analogy for the entrapment of mothers’ feelings and cultural status which are silenced, due to it being brutally unaccepted’. Mother’s journey of crossing the borders has a starting point and an ending point, which involves experiences and returns. For example, every Border crossed returns a valuable lesson in identifying her new self, hence establishes the difficulties aboriginals have of understanding and respecting their identity.
Lastly, Unfortunately, many privileges and rights were lost, and this was very apparent throughout the short story. The indigenous people have, for the last century, been represented in Canada as ‘the Indian problem’ (The Inconvenient Indian 215). The core of Indian, Aboriginal Problem is that they reject what white people value and in these countries such as Canada and the US, rejecting their values has a considerable cost to pay. Those are the problem that is mostly shown in Border. Unfair policies, unequal health care and education colonial exploitation.
To conclude, this short story by Thomas King explicitly demonstrated the real struggles of indigenous people and what kind of discrimination they are going through in this day and age. This statement was seen through the position of the protagonist, where she provides a claim on her Blackfoot citizenship. It is fundamental to understand the historical memories and quotidian reality of the First Nations, there conflicted, loss of privileges and pride. King views a world of cultures coexisting where all identities feel embodied.
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