Uncovering Your Black Eyes Essay, Research Paper
Uncovering Your Black Eyes
The film Smoke Signals is in fact a Native American coming-of-age story, but can also be related to the African American bild?ngsroman . The film shows the viewer how the protagonist is handed all kinds of burdens and issues of pain, to himself and his people. Throughout the film you see how the main character Victor, learns to how to deal with the issues one at a time. You see him grow, and become more mature in his views. Relating him to the bild?ngsroman makes it easier for the viewer to see these changes. Out of the seven emergence the ones that fit Victor and his friend Thomas are; the character engage in some form of artistic production. Protagonists reflect on world around them. Protagonists turn inward and reflect upon themselves, and protagonists engage in the project of self-fashioning.
The main character Victor has had some serious issues in his life. From a very young age he has had to deal with his father?s drinking, leading to his disappearance. Victory is a angry child seeking answers to his long lost questions. He looks around and sees the reservation that has been given to his people, and he is angry. Angry for what has happened to his people, angry for what has happened to his family, and most of all angry for what has happened to himself. As the movie goes on we see that Victor finds answers; not to everything, but to a large majority of his questions. The experiences he encounters changes his views on life, and on the people around him. Thus proof that this is a true coming-to-age story. From using the bild?ngsroman we the viewers can track the key parts in the film to see when these vital character changes occurred.
Artistic productions lead a large roll in all Native American tribes. One artistic property the Spokane Indians have is the art of story telling. One of the main reason this art is so widely used is because all they have left are stories. They have been striped of everything; their land, their way of life, and their pride. So the only thing they have left of their culture is the art form of story telling. In this movie the protagonist Thomas leads in the art of story telling. Thomas does not seem to see what is going around him. He knows he lives on a reservation, and he knows that this is not the setting his people belong in, but something inside him make just calms him, and brings his stories out. Thomas leads a large roll when it comes to Victor. Victor always thought Thomas was a two breaded, 70?s disco suit wearing dork. He never took the time to listen to Thomas?s stories, or to try to understand the truth behind them. He never tried to relate to what Thomas was saying about the world around them. If he did from the start Victor would have been more open minded from the beginning.
Protagonists reflect on the world around them. This emergence clearly relates to Victory, and how he sees the world. From this we can see when Victor views on the world mature, and change. Victor has always looked at the world around him in a negative way. He really didn?t have that great of an upbringing, and a large part of him blames himself for his father leaving. ?Victor has to first learn the truth about what is eating away at him, only then will he see the world for what it really is.? (Smoke Signals Review) This emergence also has a lot to do with the Indian tribe it?s self. Most tribes look at the world in a different way. ?Indians see trees as living things, they don?t see a stack of paper like the white man.? (Indian Boyhood) Maybe that is why Thomas does not get upset when he looks around. He feels that getting upset about what has happened to him people will do him no good. After a while this starts to rub off on Victor, he starts to see his father in a different way. His fathers ashes was a perfect example. Those ashes show two things about Victor, they showed that he has gained respect for Thomas, and he has regained respect for his father. Giving Thomas half of his fathers ashes was a huge step in their friendship. Before their trip, when Thomas talked about Victor?s father, Victor would get angry. He didn?t like the fact that someone else had fun with his father, when he didn?t. He never thought about Thomas?s feelings, and if Thomas missed his father. That is what those ashes symbolized, it was Victor growing, he was leaving the pig headed stubborn side behind. It also showed the respect that has been given to his father. Victor blamed everything on his father, he had so much rage and anger built up he never saw his father for what he was. When he took his father?s ashes and set them to rest at the bed of the river, that was a sign of respect. The Spokane Indians were fishers, they got everything from the water. The river was the most sacred thing the tribe pussiest, and that was where Victor took his father. This just showed how he has grown throughout the movie, and the level of respect he has created for his father, and for Thomas.
Protagonists turn inward and reflect upon themselves. This can be used with both Victor and Thomas, and how Victor learned this from Thomas. Thomas has always done this, even when he was a little kid he has always looked within and then reflected upon it. What do you think his stories were about. He would close his eyes, look deep within and find a story to match what he was feeling. Story telling is a very inward action, Victor goes through his whole life not believing or just not caring about this. The only time he would go inward was when he was feeling sorry for himself, or when he was blaming himself for his father leaving or for his death. This was the way he lived until he went on the trip with Thomas for his father. That first step onto the bus, was Victor?s first step to becoming mature. In order to go on that trip he had to look within and reflect on seeing that his father was more than just a drunk. He saw the love, pain, and confusion in his father?s live, and for once he could relate. Victor was at the age when he began to understand what was going on with his father. Granted he was already dead, but Victor was very young when the abuse from his father happened. He also was very young when his father left the family. So at that age he didn?t understand, he just blamed it on everything, and everyone. ?…The two most important people in Victor?s life was his father and his friend Thomas. It took him a while to see this…? (Looking at the Smoke Signals) They showed him everything. His father gave him a present, and Thomas showed him how to unwrap it. The only thing Victor had to do was use it in the right way, and he did.
Finally we get to protagonists engage in the project of ?self-fashioning.? This is the final emergence that is related to this movie. Everything up to this point has been very important for Victor, it has shown him a whole new outlook on life, also it has shown him how narrow minded he has been. The ?self-fashioning? is like molding a wet slab of clay. The clay has all the characteristics and had the potential to be a beautiful vase, it just needs to be molded the right way by the right person. Who better than Thomas. The funny thing about that situation is that Victor really doesn?t see how much Thomas has helped him, and Thomas really doesn’t see how much he has helped Victor. In a way it is better like that, and even if they do know they don?t need to say anything.
Through the experiences Victor has gained he know has started molding himself into the person he wants to be. He has settled the issues in his past that have given him grief, and is beginning to move on. He has left his boyish views on life and people behind. The trip he took with Thomas was more than a bus ride. It showed him the path to become a true Indian. Victor is not the only one who gained something on this trip, Thomas gained the respect he always wanted, and now can call Victor a friend. Who knows, he might even use it for one of his stories.
1. Eastman, Charles. Indian Boyhood. University of Nebraska, 1992.
This book talked about this Indian boys life, and what problems he encounters growing up. It deals with segregation, and talks about what Indian life is all about. How their tribe lives, and what their beliefs are.
2. Robert H. Ruby, Brown A. John. The Spokane Indians (Children of the Sun) University of Oklahoma Press, 1970.
The book was very interesting, it told all about the Spokane tribe. Their life style, what the eat, and what is vital for their servile. From watching the movie Smoke Signals I can see that the Spokane Indians can?t live the way they have because of their surroundings. The reservation does not offer them the one thing they depend on for survival; fish. They need the river, and the river in Smoke Signals has no fish, they dammed it up. Thus changing their whole life.
3. Walker, A. Mike. ?Looking at the Smoke Signals? Metacrawler Film Review. 1999.
This review of Smoke Signals was very helpful. It talk about every character, discussing how they changed, and what they changed from. It told the turning points of the characters, and who helped them see the truth.
4. Smith, G. Steven. ?Smoke Signals Review? Film Critique (?)
This was just a review of the movie, it talked about very interesting things that you would not usually think of. It talked about the differences between the white man, and the red man. How both look at the same thing, but see two different things.
5. Ralph, W. Andrew. Western Indians. Bonanza Books, New York.
This gave me a good perspective on Indians and how they were treated. It made you think about how their land, and the pride was taken from them. No one stopped it from happening, no one cared. It made me think if that was happening to us, would they of help us? Not after what we did. From reading this I know what the new settlers did, and how they didn?t care. They had plans, and the Native Americans were in their way.
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