: Traplines (): Eden Robinson: Books. Remember the name Eden Robinson. You will be seeing it again, on other covers. Born on the Haisla Nation Kitamaat reserve in British Columbia, Robinson, traplines by Eden Robinson. The story was about a boy, will living with his parents and then goes to live with his teacher. His teacher’s husband.

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Skip to main content. Log In Traplinnes Up. Refiguring Self-identity in Eden Robinson’s Traplines. Refiguring the Native-European Relationship 35 4 Karaoke: The protagonists attempt to put an end to the violence that surrounds them by determining their lives, and in turn, refiguring their self-identity. The protagonists are a mix of both male and female teenagers with little to no markers of their ethnicities: While Will, Lisa, Tom and Adelaine are not intent on aligning themselves with either a Native identity nor a non-Native identity, but instead work to refigure their self-identity, their own concept of self.

In fact, it is through their attempts to influence their lives that a greater sense of self-identity is realized. A simplistic timeline of Aboriginal writing can be described in the following manner: It roninson be overly naive to say that Aboriginal writing did not take place before the mid-twentieth century, especially since oral discourse, like written symbols and pictures, has been practiced within Aboriginal communities for thousands of years: This verbal tradition helped Aboriginal communities retain their histories and traditions, which contrasts sharply with the written tradition of European cultures Dyck Indeed, it is this history of oral discourse that has greatly influenced both the style and themes found in Aboriginal literature, seen with the influx of Native writing in the rkbinson century: Moreover, the history of the Aboriginal experience—cultural appropriation, displacement from land, residential schooling—has also influenced Aboriginal writing: Aboriginal attitudes towards books, writing, and the English language were and are shaped by the fact that they were and are used as tools of deception, destruction and dispossession… While alphabetic script, books, and the English language remain tainted by their history, Aboriginal authors have now appropriated the power of these weapons for their hraplines purposes.

Van Toorn 28 Canadian Aboriginal writers of today have embraced the tools of the colonizers as a means of challenging the dominant culture and thereby gaining a voice in the literary forum.

For the Aboriginal writer, literature is a vehicle not only to challenge dominant culture, but also to celebrate Aboriginal culture and customs of old and new: A Post-Colonial reading can be a fruitful endeavor in regards to Native writing, for it draws the reader to the various symbols and allegories of the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Native culture.

Like Campbell before, these Aboriginal women focus their writing on issues of identity and community. Whether it is a male or female author penning the stories, Aboriginal literature exhibits common themes.

TRAPLINES by Eden Robinson | Kirkus Reviews

Scholar Coral Ann Howells reflects on Native writing in Canada and concludes that the common themes are of identity and culture: Dreaming in one language and writing in another, translating across cultures, negotiating a position from which to speak of difference and identity: However, I feel that her stories can be read as a window into modern adolescent Native angst and also as a representation of adolescent angst in general, for her themes are universal.

I believe Traplines can be read both as a reflection of the struggles of modern North-American adolescents and as an expression of contemporary indigenous adolescents. Both scholars provide thorough Edeen readings of these stories.

In fact, Hoy questions if it is possible to read Traplines without a Post- Colonial framework in mind: One must therefore read this text through multiple lenses. In the end, Hoy concludes that to read Traplines either through a particular Native context or universal framework is a misstep for scholars: Before I begin to examine the stories in detail, a brief synopsis of the stories is appropriate so as to demonstrate the common themes.


She and her husband extend an invitation for Will to move in with them, to provide him with a more stable environment. His aloof and fatalistic attitude towards life is shared by all of his close friends from school.

Lisa searches for roobinson, albeit with great difficulty.

Told from a third-person omniscient perspective, we learn that the protagonist Tom is both psychologically and physically abused by his older cousin Jeremy.

While the theme of abuse is present throughout the collection, what makes this novella unique is its departure from a rural setting, found in the other three short storiesto an urban one, with the story focused completely on the protagonist Tom and the antagonist Jeremy.

The final short story of Traplines further examines the ways in which abuse affects teenage victims, their families, and the greater community.

Karaoke, struggles to overcome the continual sexual abuse that she has undergone at the hands of her Uncle Josh since she was a child. With little to no help from friends and family, Adelaine works to both end the abuse and depart on a new path of self- identity. While Adelaine has difficulty understanding that she is not at fault for the abuse, she continues to blame herself for both the abuse as well as its negative repercussions.

Moving from silent victim to vocal avenger, Adelaine is the protagonist who achieves the highest levels of self- identity and takes greatest control of her life. These themes interlace in the narrative, providing a rich base from which to perform both a particular Native reading of the symbols and allegories, but also a more universal reading as well.

This is evident through much of the narrative, but is most noticeable in his interactions with Mr. Will cannot respond to Mr. His thoughts are telling: I open my mouth.

This request leaves Will in a precarious position, which is rendered even more uncomfortable by Mr. Accepting this invitation would be, for Will, an admission that he cannot determine his own life. This is a confession that Will is not yet ready to make.

If we are to infer a particular reading of this interaction, with Will as Native and Mr. Smythe as non-Native, this relationship is understood as a representation of the historical imbalance between colonizer and colonized. The final interaction between Will and Mr. Smythe finds Will taking aspirin in the kitchen: I grab six, three for now and three for the morning.

Smythe grabs my hand. I must be sleepy. I get ready for a lecture. This excerpt demonstrates that Mr. Will does not speak during this interaction.

Traplines by Eden Robinson

He remains silent, while ruminating over Mr. I would argue that Will wrongly interprets Mr. Furthermore, his departure can also be understood in a Post-Colonial context, where his departure from both the Smythes and the village can be seen as a rejection of both his Native identity and the identity that the Smythes had tried to create for him in their home.

Unable to unite the two identities, Will rejects both for the unknown of Vancouver. Will attributes the fictional versions of what he sees as postcard images to demonstrate the ways in which appearances of wellbeing in this story are just that—appearances.

They crowd close to the road. This description is curios for its juxtaposition of postcard picturesqueness and the crowded trees breaking and electrocuting themselves on power lines. This excerpt demonstrates the opposition between how Will believes his English teacher Mrs. Smythe would perceive this image good cheer and merrimentand the way Will sees this image claustrophobic electrocution. Smythe as someone who sees the world through rose colored glasses, while Will maintains a more negative fatalistic attitude.


One could argue that Will sees the reality of image, while he feels Mrs. The opposition between appearance and reality is evident in the recurring symbol of the postcard. Postcard imagery reappears when Will is aimlessly walking around the village in an attempt to avoid his family. In this example however, Will does not see the image through the eyes of Mrs. Smythe, only his own. At first glance, the outside snapshot of the homes and village is one full of Christmas festivities.

The houses lining the street look snug. I hunch into my jacket. In a few weeks, Christmas lights will go up all over the village. Dad will put ours up two weeks before Christmas. We use the same set every year.

Traplines: Stories

Some of the presents will be wrapped in aluminum because she never buys enough wrapping paper. Mom and Dad will go to a lot of parties and get really drunk. Maybe this year I will too.

Anything would be better than sitting around with Tony and Craig, listening to them gripe. However, in this instance, it is Will robinskn notes the trpalines quality of his town and not an imagined description of what he thinks Mrs. This leaves the impression that Will is capable of seeing the charming exterior, but is well aware of the grim activities that go on inside those snug houses of Tucca. Moreover, the many postcard images work to contrast differences between appearances and reality.

Unlike the dichotomy between appearance and reality in the town of Tucca, Will discovers traplinez Mr. Will remembers his first visit at the home of Mr. Smyth and the impression the yard made: The lawn was neat and green and I only saw one dandelion. This remembrance is one of abundance and order, where plant growth has been molded and crafted to suit the desire of the Smythes.

Indeed, this image of spring contrasts the snowy winter in which the narrative, for the most part, takes place. Read through a particular Post Colonial lens, the non-Native Smythes live in order and abundance, while Will and his family live in squalor and violence.

Up to this point in the narrative, Will has described the dichotomy between the postcard picturesque and the reality beneath. Indeed, there are many instances in this short story where initial descriptions of order and wellbeing—the postcard symbol—give way to much darker portraits of characters and their relationships with one another.

It is only later in the narrative that we learn that this relationship between the brothers is an abusive one. When Eric is high or drunk, he takes a keen interest in physically torturing his younger brother Will.


One of the first instances of this is when Will returns home to what he thinks is edn empty house, but Eric lurks in the shadows. Will describes the ensuing altercation as follows: His socks make a slithering sound on the floor.

I duck just in time and hit him in the stomach.