Describe the relationship between Koro and the old bull whale. Are there parallel? If so, how are they alike? What does each story tell us about the other?
It seems clear from the story that there are at least some parallels between Koro and the old bull whale. This connection is even explicitly stated by Kahu and referenced by Rawiri. They are alike in terms of being the leader of their herds in changing, trying times. They are bound by love for the past and they are trying to understand how to move forward and live in the future. They are also both stubborn.
Explore the symbolism of the spear. What does the spear represent? What does this symbol mean?
At one point Kahu is identified as the spear cast into the future. The spears seem to represent life-giving bounty. There is some cultural significance, then, to the tool of the spear beyond just its typical war-bound use.
Does Rawiri experience a coming-of-age trial? What does he learn about himself and his cultural identity from this experience?
Rawiri’s four year journey through Australia and Papua New Guinea seem to test his cultural identity in variety of ways while also forcing him to make life-long decisions, like where he wants to live and who he wants to associate with. At the same time, he experiences some of the harsh realities of life, like watching a friend die or being the victim of racism. All of these teach him about himself and his strength.
Does Kahu demonstrate the traits of a good leader? If so, which specific traits does she demonstrate?
Kahu does seem to demonstrate many traits of a good leader. The climactic scene where she leads to whale herd away reveals many of these traits, like bravery, determination, level-headedness, and willingness to self-sacrifice. Other scenes in the book also showcase Kahu with these traits, like the one where she is determined to retrieve the stone.
Pick one scene which provides a deeper characterization of one of the main characters of the story. Explain why this particular scene is important in understanding this character.
There is a wealth of scenes which deepen characterization. Examples of such scenes include: the climactic scene of Kahu herding the whales; the scene where Nanny is revealed to have been crying over Rawiri’s motorcycle demonstrates her loving nature; and Koro weeping over the death of the first whale herd, demonstrating his care for nature and the pressure he is bearing.
What do the titles of each part suggest in relation to the broader narrative of the story? How does every section correspond to the reality portrayed in that section?
The titles of the four sections of the book are named after the four seasons. Each name has some relation to the content of the story. For example, spring may represent new life. Winter may represent stagnation. Furthermore, the usage of such a naming system at all suggests a more cyclical view of time rather than a linear view of time.
Write an essay analyzing the ways in which modernity and tradition interact within the story. Does the story suggest that they can interact peacefully? Or does it seem impossible?
The threads of modernity and tradition run throughout the story. Koro is seen as the main upholder of tradition, and the central crisis of tradition is that those who do know and uphold the tradition are dying off and there are fewer, and fewer people to teach and lead future generations. This is exemplified by Koro’s search for a future leader. The crisis of modernity is that it cuts people off from their natural roots. This is exemplified by Rawiri’s experiences with his cousins in Australia, who feel cut off from their Maori roots.