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Borders by Thomas King

By Thomas King
In this class you will learn a short story analysis.
Your goal is to …
IDEAS/Meaning: Examine and analyze the literary components
of the story
ORGANIZATION:/FORM Explore indigenous culture and
learn how to analyze images
WORD CHOICE:/STYLE Learn skills to use thematic
language in your writing
SENTENCE FLUENCY/STYLE Appreciate the style and
language used in the story
CONVENTIONS: Check the paragraphs for punctuation,
spelling, and grammar.
Meet the Author
Thomas King was born on April 24, 1943, in Sacramento, California
to a mother of Greek and Swiss-German descent and father who was
Cherokee. King and his brother were raised by their mother after
their father left the family.
King attended private Catholic and public schools in middle school
and high school before flunking out of Sacramento State University
in his first year. King went on to join the Navy and was discarded
due to a knee injury soon thereafter.
Meet the Author (cont.)
In 1980, King moved to Canada to teach at the University of
Lethbridge in Alberta and then on to the University of Guelph in
King began writing in the early 1980s and has published an array
of novels, short stories, scripts, children’s books, and works of
non-fiction. His collective works include Medicine River (1990); A
Coyote Columbus Story (1992); Borders (1993)and many more.
King’s many literary awards include the Governor’s General
Award in 2014 for the Back of the Turtle. In 2014, The
Inconvenient Indian won King holds a dual citizenship in the
United States and Canada. He is a vocal political activist for
aboriginal rights in both countries..
Historical Context: Indigenous People of Canada
By most measures, Canada is a very young country, and
Canadians are a very new people. Most of the
Canada’s population is descended from European immigrants
who only arrived in the 18th century or later, and even the most
“historic” Canadian cities are rarely more than 200 years old.
But thousands of years before any Europeans arrived there were
still people living in Canada. Canadian Aboriginals, also known
as Native Canadians, the First Nations of
Canada, Indigenous Canadians, or Canadian Indians, are the
modern-day descendants of the first human inhabitants of North
Historical Context: Indigenous People of Canada
Everyone must come from somewhere, and
most archaeologists believe the first peoples of Canada, who
belong to what is sometimes called the Amerindian race,
migrated to western North America from east Asia sometime
between 21,000 and 10,000 B.C. (approximately 23,000 to
12,000 years ago), back when the two continents were
connected by a massive land bridge known as the Bering
Plain. In the centuries that followed, these peoples spread
across the lands that now comprise Canada and the United
States, forming hundreds of distinct settlement communities
across the vast landscape. Though population estimates vary
wildly, the early Amerindians likely numbered in the millions.
Contact With the White Man
When Europeans first arrived in eastern North America in the
mid-1500s, most regarded the continent’s Indigenous residents as
a hopelessly backwards people greatly inferior to
themselves. Missionaries were dispatched to convert this
supposedly “godless” race to Christianity, while
early French and British colonists saw them as a useful and
easily-exploited source of cheap labor for the fur trade, soldiers
for the battlefield, or even household slaves. When Aboriginals
resisted, the Europeans would often wage war against them. As
the European powers sought to secure greater control over North
America, threats of violence were used to force Aboriginal leaders
to sign lopsided treaties that surrendered political control of their
land in exchange for meager financial compensation or dubious
promises of protection and safety.
Contact With the White Man
In the end, however, it was disease that effectively weakened the Aboriginals beyond recovery.
Unexpectedly exposed to dozens of new European illnesses for which they had no immunity or
cure. Some estimate that by the close of the 19th century Canada’s Aboriginal population had
declined by more than 90 per cent.
The late 19th century saw the Canadian government settle the vast western half of northern North
America with white settlers, and in order to make space for them, Indigenous nations from this
region were cajoled into signing yet more land surrender treaties. This era also saw the reserve
system pursued with renewed vigor, with the goal of bringing the “Indian issue” to a close once
and for all. Aboriginal communities were assigned to live and govern themselves in isolated,
economically unimportant corners of the country, while heavy-handed assimilation initiatives
like residential schools attempted to eliminate Indian culture altogether. With the Native
minority safely out of sight and out of mind, Canada’s new white majority found it easy to spend
the next century largely ignoring Aboriginal concerns.
Indigenous Canadians Today
Today, Canada is home to about 1.7 million citizens of Aboriginal
descent, the majority of whom identify as members of specific tribal
communities, or First Nations, that have existed for centuries.
About half a million Canadians identify as mixed-race Métis people
while only about 65,000 consider themselves Inuit.
In many ways, Indigenous Canadians are little different from any
other type of Canadian. They work, raise families, vote in elections,
and otherwise participate as full members of Canadian society. In
other ways, however, their lives are quite different indeed, due to the
continued existence of Aboriginal treaties and Indian reserves,
which regulate and control Indigenous Canadian life in manner that
is exclusive, distinctive, complicated, and — often — deeply
Symbols of Aboriginal People
The eagle is sacred, wise and a noble creature
representing power and prestige to the Canadian
It's a symbol of grace, power and intellectual
Symbols of Aboriginal People
The Heron- the first people took of the
heron's inquisitiveness, determination and
excellent judgement skills while it fishes or hunts.
They believed sighting a heron before a hunt
would indicate the hunt would be a
victorious one.
Symbols of Aboriginal People
The salmon symbolizes instinct, persistence and
Also, a symbol of abundance, wealth and
prosperity because of the salmon is the primary
food source for the northwest coast. Salmon in
pairs is good luck.
Symbols of Aboriginal People
In the northwest native culture, the sun is known
to provide the Earth with healing energy and life.
Also represents abundance and peace.
Some old legends believe the raven stole the sun
from an evil tribe and placed it in the sky. It later
then set it free back to the Earth and has since
given humans warmth, light and life.
Borders by Thomas King
Currently there is six million Natives living in between the
United States and Canada, and only 25,000 Blackfoot
Indians between the two countries. In the short story
"Borders" by Thomas King, the treatment of natives is
shown to light in a common practice. While trying to cross
the United States -Canada border to visit her oldest
daughter in Salt Lake City, Utah, a woman and her
youngest son, of Blackfoot Indian descent, are stopped at
the border. She is questioned about her nationality and
calmly states "I am Blackfoot, neither American or
Borders by Thomas King
She is not allowed to enter the United States nor Canada
and is stuck in a neutral zone. News channels and many
people were shocked with the treatment of Native
They are eventually allowed to pass through to the United
States, however this leaves many people wondering about
the treatment of Natives Americans, which King displays
through conflict.
Literary Analysis: Setting
In fiction, the setting (time and place) is always an important, if not
crucial, element.
The main setting of the story Borders is at the U.S. border crossing
at the village of Coutts, Alberta.
Coutts is a very old village, and it has served for over 100 years as a
border crossing.
The story takes place in modern times as
• a judicial system which separates the two countries is already
• the woman is driving a car.
Literary Analysis: Protagonist & Antagonist
The protagonist is the main character of the story involved in the main conflict. Usually
undergoes changes throughout the story.
The antagonist is the force in opposition of the protagonist. Usually, another character but
can be a force of nature, society, or an internal force.
For example, in Borders, the protagonist is Laetitia’s mother who faces the struggles of
identity and is challenged to overcome them. The antagonist is society in general as they
treat First Nations as the minority and forces them to admit they are part of a nation.
Characterization is the method an author uses to
reveal characters.
There are two types of characterization:
Direct Characterization –a writer tells us directly
what a character is like or what their motives are.
Indirect Characterization –a writer shows us a
character (speech, appearance, private thoughts,
actions) but allows us to interpret for ourselves
the kind of person we are meeting.
Definition of Conflict
In literature, conflict is a literary element
that involves a struggle between two
opposing forces, usually
a protagonist and an antagonist.
There are two types of conflict : internal
and external.
Let us dig deeper!
Internal Conflict
§ Mind Vs. Body: This type of conflict occurs when the protagonist or the main character
fights against his bodily addiction such as in the case of some drug addict. Some may fight
against the religious belief that has proved wrong or against political dogmas such as
in Animal Farm by George Orwell.
§ Mind Vs. Mind: This is the mental thinking conflict. It occurs when a person has desires, but
he also must fulfill his responsibilities. He must perform his duty as well as do his
responsibility or commit suicide and die or struggle for his survival. This is called mind
versus mind conflict as it happens in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
§ Mind Vs. Reality: Some literary works present worlds that do not match with reality such as
the dystopian world of The Handmade Tale created by Margret Atwood, the world of
magical realism created by Garcia Marquez, or the world created by the superiority complex
or right versus just people. This is called mind versus reality conflict.
External Conflict
§ Conflict With Nature: It happens when a man comes into
conflict with nature.
§ Conflict With Another Person: This conflict happens with
the thinking and subsequent actions of the people that do not
match and create a conflict between them.
§ Conflict With Society: It happens with the main protagonist
comes into conflict with the social setup, norms, traditions,
and conventions.
Conflict in Borders
Man vs. Man
• Laetitia’s mother disputes with each individual
border guard;
• Rather than giving in and ignoring the flaws in
the system, her persistence keeps the conflict
“It didn’t take them long to lose their sense of humor.
I can tell you that. The one guard stopped smiling
altogether … (Borders)
What other conflict were depicted in the story
Definition of
Flashbacks are interruptions that writers do to insert past events, in
order to provide background or context to the current events of
a narrative.
By using flashbacks, writers allow their readers:
§ to gain insight into a character’s motivations;
§ provide a background to a current conflict.
Flashback in
There are several flashbacks depicted
in this story.
The flashbacks lead up until the point
where the mom and son were reunited
with the mom’s daughter.
Thomas King used parallel plot to cut
between different times to help the
reader understand a little bit more
about the story and the background
information of the story, while also
helping convey his message.
• As a literary device, theme refers to the central, deeper
meaning of a written work.
• As readers infer, reflect, and analyze a literary theme,
they develop a greater understanding of the work itself
and can apply this understanding beyond the literary
work as a means of grasping a better sense of the world.
• Theme is often what creates a memorable and
significant experience of a literary work for the reader.
Themes in Borders
Theme # 1: Pride
In the story Borders by Thomas King, pride is a character trait that can be developed in a
character over time. When Laetitia’s brother says “pride is a good thing to have, you know,
Laetitia’s had a lot of pride, and so did my mother, I figured that someday I’d have it, too.”
Laetitia’s brother believes pride is something you inherit from your family, and he knows it
is very important. When the guard asked their citizenship Laetitia’s mother would reply with
“Blackfoot” every single time, and she stayed prideful to the Blackfoot community. Mel has
a lot of pride as well, “The manger had a name tag with a tiny American flag on the one side
and a tiny Canadian flag on the other.” This shows everyone that Mel supports Canada and
Themes in Borders
Theme # 2: Personal Identity
In Borders by Thomas King, personal identity represents the way Laetitia’s mother wants
others to see her as. She is very loyal to the Blackfoot culture and wants to make others
believe in their community for their independency.
When the border guard says “I know that we got Blackfoot on the American side and the
Canadians got Blackfoot on their side,” Laetitia’s mother reply with “Blackfoot side.” This
shows that she feels that Blackfoot can be their own nationality and that she won’t back
down or give into something she doesn’t believe in.
The end!
Reference: https://thecanadaguide.com/
Borders By Thomas King - 931 Words | Bartleby