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Written by joel tatlow
The Cree central character in Three Day Road. Xavier is often the narrator of the novel, who tell us of his experiences as a soldier in World War One through the use of morphine/pain induced flashbacks. At the beginning of the novel, Xavier is confused with Elijah by Canadian military personnel because they are both Cree. As Xavier tells the reader the story of his time as a soldier, he is transported by Niska in a canoe so that he can be healed of his morhpine addiction at her compound. Xavier works his way up in the Canadian army to the position of sniper, which he excels at due to his hunting training as a child. During his time as a soldier, Xavier is constantly struggling with the loss of his and Elijah's Cree identity. Xavier is frequently jealous of Elijah's success in the army, and his commradery with the Caucasian soldiers. Ultimately, by novel's conclusion, Xavier is forced to kill his best friend Elijah because Elijah has gone "windigo", and has begun to take pleasure in killing.
Xavier's childhood friend, who also becomes a Canadian soldier in WW1. Upon going to war, Elijah quickly attempts to shed his Cree identity in hopes of identifying more with the Caucasian soldiers. He is quickly praised by army leadership because of his ability to shoot a gun accurately, and earns the coveted position of sniper. Upon assuming this role, Elijah becomes obsessed with killing, and begins collecting the scalps of his victims. He soon begins to kill anything that frustrates him, including allied soldiers, soldiers in his own platoon, and an officer of higher rank than him. He is ultimately killed by Xavier, as his desire to kill consumes his entire being.
The alternative narrator in the novel, Niska is Xavier's aunt. She rescues both Xavier and Elijah from a Catholic residential school, and trains them in traditional Cree hunter-gatherer roles. Upon Xavier's arrival after his time a soldier, Niska transports him in a canoe downstream to her compound so she can perform healing rituals on Xavier. Niska also tells the reader of her own story through the use of flashbacks. As a child, her father assumed the role of "windigo killer" within their Cree tribe, a honored position reserved for only those with a special gift. This gift is passed on to Niska after her father's murder, and she assumes the trying task of keeping the community safe from Windigos. This gift forces Niska away from her community, and in to isolation, where she is called on by various Cree communities to kill Windigos. In isolation, she begins a sexual relationship with a Frenchman, who ultimately ends up stealing her ability to kill Windigos when he rapes her in a Catholic church. To regain her power, Niska indirectly causes the Frenchman to commit suicide.
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Three Day Road Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Three Day Road is a great
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I think the tension between the two boys is one of contrasting and colliding cultures. While Xavier rejects the English speaking vernacular, Elijah seems quite content even welcoming his name change from Weesagechak to Whickeyjack to make it...