A Process of Thought and Being: Aboriginal Realism and Cultural Healing in Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road and Tomson Highway’s Kiss of the Fur Queen
In this thesis I examine the relationship between the healing of cultural trauma and connections to Aboriginal communities in Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road and Tomson Highway’s Kiss of the Fur Queen. These novels are both concerned with the development of Aboriginal identities within a postcolonial world and depict this world from a specifically Cree perspective. As such, I situate these novels contextually and theoretically, with references to the specific Cree mythologies and narratives that inform the novels as based upon the theory of Indigenous Literary Nationalism. I argue that their inclusion of specific Cree perspectives within a realistically rendered colonial world creates a new form of literary realism called Aboriginal realism which presents readers with a different way of interpreting reality. Their concern with addressing traumas inflicted on Aboriginal communities by colonial institutions, specifically residential schools, and demonstrating possible methods of individual and cultural rejuvenation situates these works as politicized objects with real-world applications. I argue that through the creation of their characters, both novels posit that a connection to Aboriginal communities and culture is necessary to heal from past traumas and for the creation of a healthy, evolving, and sustainable Aboriginal identity. As such, these novels provide their readers with examples of how they too may overcome the traumas of their pasts, while pointing out ongoing problems within Aboriginal communities, such as adherence to Western-imposed ideological systems, which preclude complete cultural regeneration.
Aboriginal Literature, Canadian Literature, Identity, Community
Master of Arts (M.A.)