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“Legends are Made, Not Born” Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jun 17th, 2022

People can demonstrate different types of resilience simultaneously while going through crises. It might be possible to find an example of it in “Legends are Made, Not Born” by Cherie Dimaline. The writer mostly creates stories focusing on the issues and hardships which people of different backgrounds have to encounter. Her descent and identity have contributed greatly to the brightness of the stories centering around North America’s indigenous people and the resilience they demonstrated while preserving the crucial parts of their culture in Métis communities. The main character in “Legends are Made, Not Born” is a gay boy who has to come through a number of crises due to some aspects of his life and features of his personality. The boy in the story constantly demonstrates resilience, which means the ability to overcome hardships. There are numerous similarities between various types of resilience described in the story, which can be revealed with the help of psychological and archetypal criticism.

The plot is based on a live episode of a six-year-old boy who becomes an orphan. The plot reflects the archetypal theme of quest and transformation. The archetypal themes have been used in literature numerous times, which helps writers evoke strong emotions without having to explain all the minor features of the topic (Garry 16). The author does not have to provide all the details of the intense feelings which the boy has, as similar episodes from other literary works have already taught people what one feels during such a crisis. After the boy’s mother dies in an accident, he has to find the answers to numerous questions associated not only with suffering but with his identity as well. Dimaline portrays the resilience the boy shows by working hard and assisting the person who now looks after him. Nevertheless, being an orphan is not the only psychological issue and identity crisis the boy has to face in his childhood.

Dimaline uses multiple epithets and metaphors to describe the beauty of nature, which has always inspired Native Americans and encouraged them to stay resilient to all social and economic issues (2). Despite having to migrate to completely new territories, indigenous people managed to maintain their attitude to the environment, which allows for a sustainable and happy lifestyle. This could be noticed in the behavior and the worldview of the Dimalines protagonist. Moreover, migration can be considered an archetypal theme in its own right. For instance, a number of great European literary works are centered around the memories of the legendary fatherland where everything seemed to be better, brighter, and fairer. Therefore, the story by Dimaline provides a great insight into the migration processes and environmental issues that Native Americans went through.

From the perspective of the socio-cultural literature lens, the fact that the main character is gay is also one of the central topics in the story, although readers do not learn much about the issues that made the boy realize it. Nevertheless, there are numerous hints which point to the fact that Auntie Dave will have an influence on the main character’s development. A number of Dave’s actions and habits surprise the protagonist. Still, all the episodes can be explained by the story about the Two Spirits he tells the boy (Dimaline 4). The Two-Spirited people “held both male and female genders,” which could lead to numerous controversies in the 20th century (Dimaline 4). It gradually becomes vivid that Auntie Dave considers himself one of them. The legend about the White Buffalo gives further insight into his perception of himself and the world he lives in (Dimaline 4). Dave mentions that they are “the keepers of the White Buffalo on New Earth” (Dimaline 4). Therefore, his ego is deeply intertwined with the myth and has become an integral part of his personality. Nonetheless, both Dave and the boy will have to show resilience in the future due to their unusual nature.

To conclude, the author reflects the resilience and the ability to survive in harsh climatic conditions that have long been considered a vital part of Canadian national character in general. The emphasis that Cherie Dimaline puts on the lives and the legacy of Native Americans makes the story an outstanding example of a literary work that seeks to find a new meaning in existing archetypes. The story of a gay boy who has to develop an identity in a complex environment he lives in raises numerous questions and does not answer them directly. The use of intriguing hints, legends, and brief episodes makes readers reconsider some of the common viewpoints on several issues which managed to draw public attention not long time ago. The two literary lenses helped me realize that the loss of a parent, the history of Native Americans, and gender issues were all united by the idea of resilience Dimaline. The book allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the identity crises that many members of the highly diverse Canadian society still have to overcome.

Works Cited

Dimaline, Cherie. Legends Are Made, Not Born. The Ontario Educational Communications Authority, 2018.

Garry, Jane. Archetypes and Motifs in Folklore and Literature: A Handbook. Routledge, 2017.

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