The Ecstasy of Rita Joe

The Ecstasy of Rita Joe Imagery

The cenotaph

An image invoked by the Singer's song at the beginning of Act 2: "Round an' round the cenotaph, / The clumsy seagulls play" (86). A cenotaph is a monument erected to honor the dead—either an individual or group of people—whose bodies lie elsewhere. As the singer sings these verses, Jaimie, the Young Indian Men, and Rita Joe all dance in circles on the stage.

Berry picking

Central to Rita's memories of her sister, Eileen, are moments of berry picking as children. The two sisters would slowly fill buckets with berries while marveling at the nature around them. This image is important because it is one of Rita's only happy memories. Rita's moment foraging for berries with her sister is a protected moment that is threatened by larger and terrifying forces, embodied by the storm.

Pile of clothes

When Mr. Homer enters, he delivers a monologue about the work he does for indigenous people through the center. He explains that he offers them food and clothing, which is left in a pile on a table in the basement, because "Indian people...'specially the women...get more of a kick diggin' through stuff that's piled up like that..." (36). Not even the most racist claim made in this section, the image of the pile of used clothing that people must sift through demonstrates Mr. Homer's racism and laziness. It invites an immediate critique of Mr. Homer and undermines claims of his "goodness."

Barren land

In scenes with the Magistrate and Rita, the Magistrate makes generalizations about the experience of Indigenous peoples based on his experiences in counties with large Indigenous populations. In this section, he describes the landscape as "barren land, wild and windblown" (26). The imagery of the land works in conjunction with his perception of Indigenous peoples, as well as hints at the stark reality of life in the rural areas outside of Vancouver.