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Make for me....plz - Essay Example

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D'Arcy McNickle's The Surrounded enjoys a wide readership today and has attracted a lot of critical acclaim as well because of its simple, lucid writing and fast-paced intensity. The Surrounded is a moving account of Archilde Leon's process of confronting his culture, his parents, and the white culture's influence after his return to the reservation…
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Dysfunctional familial set up in McNickle's The Surrounded D'Arcy McNickle's The Surrounded enjoys a wide readership today and has attracted a lot of critical acclaim as well because of its simple, lucid writing and fast-paced intensity. The Surrounded is a moving account of Archilde Leon's process of confronting his culture, his parents, and the white culture's influence after his return to the reservation. Much of the novel's tensions centers around Archilde's conflicting desires of "coming home" or leaving the reservation for good. This tension is embodied in his relationship with his father, Max Leon, a Spaniard who settled in the valley, married an Indian woman, and had several children before becoming estranged from them. Archilde, who has just returned, is his father's last hope as an heir to the land and fortune he developed over the years.
Max Leon is portrayed as the authoritarian father figure in The Surrounded. He is the ever rigid Spaniard who fails completely to communicate with his own sons. Max's problem is that he has never tried to understand his half-Indian sons. He only demands that they obey him and that they should become "Americanized" ranchers. When they fail to become fully acculturated, Max becomes bitter. The family as can be seen is quite dysfunctional. All the relationships, as it were, have collapsed. Max's sons are all estranged from him, and he cannot figure out why. Max's neighbor, rancher Emile Pariseau, has come looking for the son named Louis because he has stolen horses from Pariseau. In disgust with Louis's behavior as well as the unnamed problems with his other sons, Max angrily says that they could all be sent to the penitentiary for all he cares and he damns them all except Archilde. This is the uncaring attitude that the father figure adopts towards his children in the novel. All Max wants is that at least one of his sons would turn out well and be worthy and able to take over his extensive ranching and farming operations. But when Archilde returns home, Max is scornful of his fiddle playing and doubts that even his youngest son and his last hope has the potential to run the ranch. Later, when Archilde devotes himself to working on the ranch, and shows an inclination toward the Anglo- American desire to "get ahead," Max is drawn toward his son. Like the Church, Max Leon expects unquestioning obedience from his children; and like the Church, Max doesn't comprehend the need to recognize another map of the mind than his own.
Throughout the story Archilde is helpless to control his own life. A directionless drifter, he returns to his home for reasons he fails to completely understand and finds himself drawn into an effort to win the love of his estranged parents. He proudly shows his mother the money he has earned, the tokens and signs of success in the white world, but his mother dismisses the money as inconsequential. Max Leon is scornful of Archilde's money and the idea that money is the only thing that matters in a society. Max, on the other hand, values land and hard work as fundamental moral values. He desires, as any father would, that his children accept and enact his values. The conflict between father and sons is an old one in literature as in life and therefore the author has significantly treated the theme of parent-child in the novel.
As the story progresses, the reader realizes that there is no escape for Archilde. Having returned to his home, he cannot leave. His loyalty to and love for his mother combine to ensnare him in the first instance when he takes her into the mountains for a hunt with disastrous consequences. Archilde reconciles with Max Leon, his father, just before Max's death from the exposure he suffered as a pallbearer for Father Grepilloux, his best friend. Archilde stays home after Max dies even though he realizes the personal dangers of doing so; furthermore, he seeks to fulfill what he sees as his obligation to Max to get his crops in, to take hold and become a responsible steward of his father's land.
This inability of the child to control his own life has much to do with the Church's attitudes toward the Indians. Toward these innocent children not just the Church but the entire Anglo-European power structure quickly adopted a paternal stance. "From the fathers in the Church to the 'Great White Father' in Washington, the posture was very similar. McNickle appears to be thinking along these lines; this is illustrated in the parent-child motif of The Surrounded. In Father Grepilloux's journal, we learn that when 'discovered' by the Jesuit priests, the Indians had 'the hearts of children.' Repeatedly, the old priest refers to the Salish as 'Faithful Children,' 'Wilderness Children,' or 'Blessed Children.' Even Louis, rebellious horse thief and outlaw, is described as 'a child talking.'" (Owens, Louis. The Red Road to Nowhere: D'arcy McNickle's The Surrounded and "The Hungry Generations") It is assumed that the child cannot and will not understand the parent's motivation, and must therefore act on the principle of pure faith.
Finally, it can be concluded by saying that at the centre of the novel is a conflict between the father and the son. Though the mother is not directly in conflict with her children, she by virtue of being India, somehow manages to distance herself. The children in the novel are all estranged from their parents. However, Archilde tries his best to assimilate both cultures and does not turn his back on his parents, despite the fact that he is not prepared to handle the situation. The father figure has almost been absent for the children because Max deliberately lives in isolation because he thinks he is not capable of showing any affection towards his children. Even the mother does not contribute much to the growth of the children, even though she loves her children dearly.
Works Cited
Parker, Dorothy R. Singing an Indian Song: A Biography of D'Arcy McNickle. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992.
Owens, Louis. The Red Road to Nowhere: D'Arcy McNickle's The Surrounded and "The Hungry Generations". University of Nebraska Press, 1989.
McNickle, D'Arcy. The Surrounded. UNM Press, 2005 Read More
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