Elijah has grander and more unsafe dreams. Having been mostly acculturated by a residential school upbringing before get awaying into the forest to populate with Xavier and Niska. he has acquired the doubtful accomplishments of public dealingss and vainglory every bit much as the trade of the huntsman. His English. learned from the nuns. is faultless. and he makes his grade among the work forces in the trenches as much by the flash of his storytelling as by his homicidal midnight prowls in no man’s land.
Gradually Elijah becomes imprisoned by two great compulsions: a demand for morphia. whose usage is rampant up and down the lines. and an insatiate hungriness for killing. Some Gallic soldiers suggest that if he truly wants to derive regard for all his putting to deaths. he should scalp his victims as grounds. He decides to make so. much to Xavier’s disgust.
In counterpoint to the feats of Xavier and Elijah. Boyden interweaves the narrative of Niska. told as she paddles her wounded nephew back place after the war is over. Niska is portion of the sad but admirable leftover of traditional indigens who refused to come in the militias in the nineteenth century. taking alternatively to populate by their marbless and traditional instructions in the forests.
Capable to what modern medical specialty would name epileptic ictuss. Niska is deemed by her folk to hold inherited her father’s accomplishments as a priest-doctor and a windigo-killer. Since windigos manifest themselves in worlds who have practiced cannibalism. acquiring rid of them involves what white society would name slaying. and so Niska’s male parent was executed as a liquidator by the white tribunals. The changeless crossing of the moral lines between the worldviews of native and white society is one of the many strengths of this absorbing novel.
At one point. hunkered down in his sniper’s nest. Xavier indulges himself ( and the reader ) in a contemplation on the figure three. which he sees as an compulsion of his white commanding officers. There’s the front line. the support line. and the modesty line. for starting motors. There’s the foot. the horse. and the heavy weapon. Off the battleground. there’s nutrient. so remainder. so adult females. In church. there’s the Father. Son. and Holy Ghost. Not to advert the superstitious notion about illuming three coffin nails with one lucifer. a premier metaphor for wooing danger in the Great War. But so Xavier all of a sudden remembers Niska’s traditional instruction. that those who are deceasing must walk the three-day route to decease. and he wonders “if we portion something. some thaumaturgy. Maybe it will assist me acquire through all this. ”
The existent war hero. Peggy. makes a brief cameo visual aspect in the novel. which may non hold been a wise pick on the author’s portion. The characters of Xavier and Niska and. to a somewhat lesser extent. Elijah are full to the lip with life – they’re rather hearty and credible as they are. and necessitate no farther cast of hallmark.