Indian Horse

Indian Horse Literary Elements


Historical Fiction, Coming-of-Age, Sports Novel

Setting and Context

1950s Ontario

Narrator and Point of View

The novel is written in first-person perspective. The narrator is Saul Indian Horse, the protagonist and main character.

Tone and Mood

Nostalgic, mourning, hopeful

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist is Saul Indian Horse. The antagonist is St. Jerome's school, and, in a wider sense, white settlers and Catholicism.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is between Saul and the violence done to him by white settlers.


The climax of the novel occurs when Saul returns to St. Jerome's and remembers that Father Leboutilier sexually abused and raped him.


“It’s because I’m Indian, isn’t it?”
He drove with both hands on the wheel, looking straight ahead. “Yes,” he said.
“Do they hate me?”
“They don’t hate you, Saul.”
“Well, what, then?”
“They think it’s their game.”
“Is it?”
I could hear the crack of our tires in the frost on the road. “It’s God’s game,” he said.
“Where’s God now, then?” I asked.
He gripped the wheel harder as the ruddy face of St. Jerome’s slid into view at the crest of the ridge.”

Wagamese, Richard. Indian Horse. Douglas & McIntyre, 2012. Chapter 23.

Father Leboutilier's repeated attempts to force a Christian framework on Saul, and his failure to reckon with the realities of the racism Saul faces, foreshadow his disregard for Saul's autonomy and complacency in St. Jerome's assimilationist project.



Many of the character's names are allusions to biblical stories. Moses, Saul's counselor at the New Dawn Centre, is reminiscent of the biblical figure in that he leads Saul out of a dark place, although unlike the biblical Moses, his guidance is not enough for Saul, who ultimately needs to hear his great-grandfather's voice.


See Indian Horse Imagery


For Saul, hockey is paradoxically both his only source of freedom, and the site of constant racist harassment that he otherwise might be better able to avoid.


Virgil's son Billy, who is the smallest boy on the team, but has the ability to use his speed to control the ice, parallels Saul, who was a similar kind of player.

Metonymy and Synecdoche


“I’d stand on the rocks in the dim hours before any of the others had woken and feel it enter me like light. I’d close my eyes and feel it. The land was a presence. It had eyes, and I was being scrutinized.”

Wagamese, Richard. Indian Horse. Douglas & McIntyre, 2012. Chapter 41.

Saul personifies the land.