Under The Influence Essay, Research Paper
In the first volume of the trilogy, Celestine, there were many positive and negative influences in the life of Celestine. The Indian Department discouraged Celestine in many ways. Father Victor Gaudet also played an important role in her life. Lastly, Celestine faced struggles with her family at home. Some of the positive and negative influences in Celestine s life were the discouragement of the Indian Department, Father Victor Gaudet, and her struggles at home.
Celestine had many conflicts at the Laing Center. To be admitted to grade one at the Laing Center, a child had to have at least one half year of kindergarten. Sister Candida would not accept Celestine because she hadn t attended kindergarten. Then there were Celestine s encounters with Mrs. Hoffman at the Church of Christ United Separate School (C.C.U.). Mrs. Hoffman disliked Indians, perhaps, because her husband had had an affair with one. She heard about it and left her husband for a couple of weeks. Celestine had arrived late to class one morning. As she walked into the classroom, she could feel the teacher s disgusting glance. After class was over, Mrs. Hoffman grabbed Celestine s arm tightly as she was about to leave. Mrs. Hoffman had heard that Celestine had been to the bars so she threatened to send Celestine to the principal s office the next time she went to those bars. Celestine did not let her anger overcome her and was victorious in that situation. Unfortunately for Celestine, this next encounter would have a different outcome. During another session, Mrs. Hoffman had asked Celestine who the
mayor of Battle City was. When Celestine couldn t answer quickly, Mrs. Hoffman tried to put pressure on Celestine by rushing her. After thinking about it for a while, Celestine s reply was her grandfather, Chief Moses Deer. This sent the class into an
uproar. Mrs. Hoffman silenced the room by shouting, Oh, you re nothing but a dumb Indian! (Piepenburg 280). Celestine buried her head in her arms for the rest of the class. After the session was over, other Raven classmates tried to help Celestine from her depression. Celestine finally rose, but when she tried to leave, Mrs. Hoffman blocked her way. Fire builded in Celestine as she struck Mrs. Hoffman on the cheek and slashed her ear. As Mrs. Hoffman cried out, Celestine fled. This resulted in Celestine s expulsion from the C.C.U. Separate School. Later, Celestine, her mother Mona Lafluer, and her grandmother, Bella Deer, had planned to see the principal, Martine Sorenson. Mona went to a lawyer to get a legalized view on the situation. The lawyer said that the Human Rights Act did not apply to personal school clashes. It also stated that the principal could only expel those whom they considered to be unmanageable. This discouraged Bella and Mona but they were still determined to help Celestine. Being rejected for first grade at the Laing Center, threatened by Mrs. Hoffman, and provoked to attack Mrs. Hoffman were all negative influences in Celestine s life.
Father Victor Gaudet, principal of the United Church of Christ St. Indian Residential School, was a significant figure in Celestine s life. He had also developed a relationship with the Marmot tribe, who shared a cordial relationship with the Raven tribe. Father Gaudet had been a mission for the Marmots for twelve years. He knew their language he was active in their everyday affairs, which was the most important factor. He went along on their hunting and fishing trips, and even learned some of Marmot skills that had been passed down through generations. Along with that, Gaudet had electric and
carpentry skills that aided in the building of new houses. He also handled the business matters of the chief and council. Since the principal had these social ties, his school was heaven for the Indian youths that failed in the white men s school. Gaudet took Indian juveniles and had them achieving academically well. In other situations, he provided emotional security for youths that came from broken homes. St. Labre Indian School is a Native American school located in Southeastern Montana. This school has somewhat similar qualities as the U.C.C. Both schools provide more than just education. Education is not the only thing that St. Labre provides ( About St. Labre Indian School 1). The qualities of Father Gaudet and his school were all favorable reasons for transferring Celestine to Gaudet s school. The final decision being up to Celestine, she chose to go to Gaudet s school. Ever since Celestine s encounters with Sister Candida, despite the good things she heard about Gaudet s institution, Celestine was still skeptical. After she met Gaudet, she became very comfortable, even though she missed her family. They had a long conversation where Celestine talked about her goals and also her past problems and records. As their conversation came to a close, Gaudet had achieved his purpose of getting to know Celestine better. Gaudet and his school was a good influence in Celestine s life because of his ties with the Marmot tribe, his academic support, and spiritual guidance.
Lastly, Celestine faced problems at home. Her father, Duncan Lafluer, would often get into trouble and would be in and out of jail. His last offense, in August, was getting drunk in tavern and beating up three farmers. He was released before Christmas
and Celestine wanted to go home during the break so she could see him. After his release, as he was on his way home, he reminisced on how he could have avoided the trouble at the tavern. He also thought of how he left his family to defend for themselves while he was away. As he arrived closer to the house, he could see that the house, which he and Mona had built, had an unfinished side. As he entered the house, there was no sign of excitement in the air because Duncan had always been a man who had come and gone. When it came to missionaries, Duncan was very disdainful. Despite his brainwashing experiences when he had attended the residential school, Duncan had vowed to keep his Raven beliefs forever. Crow Indians had a similar feeling toward their religion. Religion was closely tied to warfare .to make sure his success and also to give him courage (Cisco 355). When Duncan heard about Celestine s encounter at C.C.U.,
he became very agitated. However, he calmed down once he heard of Celestine s whereabouts. Duncan and Mona then discussed how to get the money so they could see Celestine for Christmas. Mona had suggested borrowing the money from Dick Rawlins but Duncan did not agree to that idea at all. This showed an example of how the family struggled. Throughout all of the struggles, Mona was still a devoted, loving, and supportive wife. Knowing how much Duncan loved and needed mukluks, she had a new pair waiting for him when he got home that she had made. Mona had also tended to the
livestock well while Duncan was gone. When it came to the subject of finding employment, a feeling of personal torment came upon Duncan. However, Mona would spare him the humiliation by reminding him of his good hunting skills and that he should
keep meat in the house. The family struggles were negative influences because of Duncan s come-and-go status, and the family s financial problems.
Despite the encounters at the Laing Center and C.C.U., Celestine managed to overcome the oppression dealt out by the Indian Department. Father Gaudet admitted Celestine into his school and treated her as no school had ever done, which overjoyed Celestine. Also due to oppression, the Lafluers faced many struggles at home. Freedom from oppression must be demanded by the oppressed because the oppressor will never give it out.
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