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Medicine River By Thomas King

Medicine River By Thomas King In the novel, Medicine River, Thomas King creates a story of a little community to reflect the whole native nation. A simply return of Will’s makes the little town seem to be more colourful. “Medicine River makes non-native readers think a little longer and harder about the lives of the first people they live among and the places they inhabit.” As a non-native reader, it is extra difficult to feel and understand the book because we didn’t go through all the steps. Although Will starts like a foreigner, he becomes part of the unique community eventually. Medicine River shows the past history of Canada and teaches readers to learn from the past experience in order to become better people. Will is the main character in the novel, Medicine River.

The whole story starts with a native photojournalist returns to his reservation for his mother’s funeral he discovers the strength of his background. Will does not live in the reserve, Medicine River, because his father is a white person. After 20 years, Will returns. After he opens the photo studio in the reserve, he feels like home again. Doing business and playing basketball makes Will become a member of the little Indian town.

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The people who help Will the most are Harlen, Louise and Joyce. Harlen is the one who always wants to make Will feel better. The photo studio & basketball team are Harlen’s idea. Louise is the true love that Will falls for. When Joyce asks Will to be in the photo, that really impresses Will a lot. Finally, Will finds his career, love and friends in the reserve after 20 years.

Harlen is Will’s friend and he is a very easy going man. He is always running around helping people to solve the problems. He runs the coach position on team Medicine River Friendship Centre Warriors” after no body wants to do the job. In order to make Will feel home, Harlen forces Will to play some basketball on the team although Will is not a good player. Leadership is the main idea that Harlen is trying to pass to Will.

When Louise breaks up with her ex-boyfriend and gets pregnant, Harlen purposely set Louise and Will up. He asks Will to take a good care of Louise and her unborn baby. Harlen also tries to sell Will on the idea of returning to Medicine River to open shop as the only native photographer in the quite, little, mountain town. Louise Heavyman shows the strong, independent and confident sides of a woman. She owns a finance company which is well known in the reserve.

Louise is a pretty woman who never gets married. Harlen describes her as, “Good looking woman, Will. Strong hips. You know, for children. Tall, too. Always good to have a tall woman.”(P.27) Harlen tries to help Louise by sending Will to have a date with her. However, Louise does not need any help from anyone else.

She tells Will about her thoughts, “He was real nice, but I didn’t want to get married. I think he thought when I got pregnant that I’d change my mind.”(P.34) Louise also reminds Will of his mother, Rose. She raised Will and James by herself and Louise is trying to raise South Wing alone. No matter how strong, independent and confident Louise is, she realizes that she loves Will and she changes herself a lot after being with Will. Eventually, Louise decides to start her new live with Will.

Even though Louise is not the main character of the novel, she plays a very important roll. The characteristic of Louise’s represents the soul of a modern woman, especially of a modern native woman. In the novel, Medicine River, after a long period of twenty years, Will still goes back to where he belongs. It does not only happen in an Indian town, but pretty much everywhere else in the world. It is because of the native people are too afraid to accept the foreigners. Once the foreigners spend some time there, people will start to accept and understand the foreigners.

Medicine River looks like a regular story to me, but I can feel that there is something great behind the story. Unfortunately, I just don’t know how to put it in words. It is a good story. Thomas King writes down the book to reflect the whole human nature. In order to improve, we have to encourage ourselves to try and accept new things. All the Canadian should be proud of the book because they are the nation with the courage to accept, learn and try things from around the world.


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