The Forsaker Essay, Research Paper
"Then there was a silence born deeper than silence, then she had rest." Those are the closing lines of "The Forsaker" by Duncan Campbell Scott. A poem that reads very simply actually brings a very important message for those who are able to look for it. "The Forsaker" is about how new generations are changing their culture and losing touch with their roots. The Chippewa woman, her son, and their society demonstrate this, past and present.
The Chippewa woman represents culture and heritage. The poem opens with her, standing on a frozen lake in a blizzard fishing with primitive tools, her sick child clinging to her. She stands on the lake fishing all day with out catching anything. "She took of her own flesh. Baited the fish-hook, drew in a gray trout." She used all that she had and didn?t rely on anything or anyone else. She walked by herself for three days to get to the lake and then walked 3 days home. At the end of the poem she is left behind because the son feels she is too old and useless. She is forgotten because new ways, ideas and technology moved in, and she was forced to make way.
The boy in the poem represents change. In the beginning he was dependant upon her for food and shelter. She taught him how to live and how to survive. Over time, things changed. More advanced tools were created, and new ways of life were beginning to break through the culture that he had known. At the end of the poem he left his mother on the island. He and his family, with their fine clothing, their kettles, fishing traps, poles, and all of their other possessions got into their boat and paddled away. He started off living a very simple life like his mother, but as times changed, he changed.
Society is another factor in the poem. The reader at 1st thinks the woman is alone, but discovers there is a society when it is mentioned in the poem as a "Strong Bulk" referring to its structure as being strong and sturdily built. In the background however are "Ravenous Huskies fighting for the whitefish." The ravenous huskies are the new generation, chewing up the traditional Native (whitefish) way of life. The son drops his mother off on "an island in a lonely lake" and left without looking back. The island represents the old society and people who still follow the traditions and old way of life. The son and his family represent the new traditions, leaving the old ones behind, and embracing the new ones.
Duncan Campbell Scott?s poem shares the same message today as it did when it was first written. The culture and traditions that we know today may be completely different a generation from now.