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The first main assignment is an analytical essay, in which you will provide a critical response to Thomas King’s short story, “Totem.” Your response may take a variety of forms based on your interests and background, but it must centre around one unifying argument or theme, and it must always be rooted in the text.

Here are some sample arguments and themes you may use. do not attempt to address more than one:

1) How is the following passage allegorical for colonizer/indigenous history?
o Larue shook his head. “It doesn’t make any sense,” he said, “because the floor’s concrete. I was here when they built this building, and I don’t remember them pouring the floor around a totem pole”


2) How is the following passage allegorical for contemporary struggles or issues within Indigenous Canadian communities?


“Maybe if we ignore it, it will stop singing,” said Jimmy. “It might even go away or disappear or something. Besides, we don’t have any place to put it. Maybe, after a while, you wouldn’t even notice it… like living next to the train tracks or by a highway”.

3) Why is it relevant that the story is set in southern Alberta? Note that the story is about totem poles.


4) Why is it relevant that the story is set in a museum, specifically? How might King be making an argument for oppressive functions inherent to museums and archives? 

Allegorical Readings

“Totem” is a short story written by the American-Canadian novelist Thomas King that centers on the historical totem poles and the museums they are represented in. It can be said that poles that are described in the story are a subtle way of highlight the racial stereotypes that can be seen within the native people (Jonaitis, 2015). The author shows that totem poles are actually not from the plain but the tradition of the natives who are from the west coast. From his viewpoint, the natives were subjected regarding the way the tradition and the cultures of the settlers who were not too much bothered about the indigenous settlers of that area those who did not think too much about the resources they were supplanting.

The line "because the floor’s concrete. I was here when they built this building, and I don’t remember them pouring the floor around a totem pole” actually represents the origin of the totem pole and the fact that the staff and the director of the museum were not even aware about the presence of the poles (Bickford III & Hunt, 2014). The audiences of the museum include the director, Walter Hooton who gets bothered with the noisy totem poles that were bothering the patrons in the art gallery. As an initiative, he decides to cut off the poles and move them to a different location with Laurie a middle-aged woman and Jimmy a young employee of the museum.  After moving to the basement the poles itself refuses to get displaced and keeps on bothering the museum staff till the point they had to use a chainsaw (King, 2017). Except Mr. Hooton and his employees, rests of the characters in the story are not human. Mr. Hooton and his staff are the representation of the high and upper class society. The staff are not directly involved in the actions shown in the story however they do give contrast to the fact the totem poles are not alive like human but possess power to move the story. Though the poles are situated within the museum, this does not change the fact that the poles center around the story.

The poles are surrounded by the fact that the building and the museum represents the land that the fact the natives were relocated. This also proves that the settlers did not believe the natives actually had any claim in the land they stayed (Raley, 2016). The patrons who were present at the exhibit were bothered by the fact that they could not enjoy the show of contemporary art. The style of art used here actually points to the fact that Atlantic art refers to the type of art represented in the totem poles themselves that is found to be offensive. When the complain comes from the patrons, the director Mr. Hooton, Laurie and Jimmy takes the full initiative to solve the problem and move the poles somewhere else. Each character play a special role to escalate the story. This is not just one piece on the board however, a total representative of the society we live in.

References

Bickford III, J. H., & Hunt, L. (2014). Common Core, informational texts, and the historical (mis) representations of Native Americans within trade books. The Councilor: A Journal of the Social Studies.

Jonaitis, A. (2015). From the Land of the Totem Poles. University of Washington Press.

King, V. T. (2017). Identity, material culture and tourism: Of ritual cloths and totem poles. South East Asia Research, 25(2), 192-207.

Raley, G. H. (2016). A Monograph of the Totem-poles in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia. Read Books Ltd.

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My Assignment Help. (2020). Analytical Essay On Thomas King's Short Story - Totem. Retrieved from https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/eng1201-english-composition-ii/thomas-kings-story.html.

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My Assignment Help (2020) Analytical Essay On Thomas King's Short Story - Totem [Online]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/eng1201-english-composition-ii/thomas-kings-story.html
[Accessed 30 May 2024].

My Assignment Help. 'Analytical Essay On Thomas King's Short Story - Totem' (My Assignment Help, 2020) <https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/eng1201-english-composition-ii/thomas-kings-story.html> accessed 30 May 2024.

My Assignment Help. Analytical Essay On Thomas King's Short Story - Totem [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2020 [cited 30 May 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/eng1201-english-composition-ii/thomas-kings-story.html.

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