“Adversity is like a strong wind.
It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are”, as said by Arthur Golden. Adversity has been a prominent aspect in First Nation communities in Canada, having been put through agonizing, tough misfortunes. The novel Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese explores the theme in which the protagonist, Saul, is being faced with challenges, learning limitations and developing strengths; this slowly comes to understanding one’s true self in becoming a more powerful individual as he finds passion in hockey and sets his pathway from thereon. From the very beginning of Saul’s life, he is exposed to various painful experiences and hurdles that he is left to deal with, mainly coming from the hardships in his residential school that take a toll on him and strip away his identity. Going from living with his grandmother to being confined in a school that tries to ‘take the Indian out of the child,’ Saul is faced with and constantly witnesses severe abuse that comes from the authorities of the school. “They took me to St. Jerome’s Indian Residential School. I read once that there are holes in the universe that swallow all light, all bodies.
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St. Jerome’s took all the light from my world. Everything I knew vanished behind me with an audible swish, like the sound a moose makes disappearing into spruce” (Wagamese 43). Troubled with this downward spiral, Sauls emotions represent the harsh misfortunes he endures as he is ripped from his grandmother’s protective arms and is placed in a setting that can be compared to ‘hell on earth.’ Saul learns that the school was not built to teach Indigenous children to succeed in a new world but to tear them apart and dissever any ties with their previous ways of life. There, he is forcibly taught the ways of white people and accosted to abuse that shatters the spirits of countless amounts of children which results in struggles with abandonment and neglect.
As a result, Saul is unable to settle and develop himself in that environment, creating a sense of isolation.