In Search Of April Raintree: Character Anaylsis Essay, Research Paper
A strong and proud young girl grows. She experiences life only to end with a spirit diminished to a shadow, and a life she can barely recognize as her own. In the novel In Search of April Raintree the character of Cheryl Raintree is bombarded with challenging tasks and situations. In the end her life and death are summed up in a letter to her sister, April Raintree. “We all have the instinct to survive. If that instinct is gone, then we die.” (pp. 207). Through so many trying experiences Cheryl loses not only her instinct; but also her willingness to even try.
In the early years of her childhood she shines with a promising light. Her faiths in her family and in herself are unparalleled by any other aspect of her life. She grows up proud of her heritage as a M?tis. Perhaps it is her appearance; Her black hair, and her brown skin empower her to learn and appreciate the history of the M?tis people. She spends years of her life researching them. As well as finding herself in hot water for speaking so strongly of her convictions that are different from what was taught in the schools. She often writes essays, and speeches on aboriginal issues attempting to influence her sister, April with these beliefs to no avail. It’s not until Cheryl’s death that April realizes what a great people the M?tis are.
From the potential cruelty of her childhood Cheryl is protected by April. She is taken care of, even if it isn’t by her parents. They can’t be bothered with children while there is alcohol to drink and parties to host. It doesn’t, however, take long for this life style to be discovered by authorities. April and Cheryl are separated and placed in foster homes without one another to hold on to. Despite their separation April continues to indulge Cheryl with stories of their parents, and their past. She doesn’t discuss the drinking, or the parties. She only tells Cheryl the warm memories of playing with their father and the lullabies their mother would occasionally sing. These lies only come back to aid in the deconstruction of Cheryl.
Through the various foster homes, the good and the bad, Cheryl remains headstrong and thirsty for knowledge. When she completes high school she is awarded with a scholarship from the University of Winnipeg. In keeping with her giving nature she volunteers for Community Relief Program at the Friendship Centre as she studies to become a social worker. She wants to earn her livelihood helping others, particularly aboriginals. This dream of hers dies after experiences at the Friendship Centre Cheryl she is lead to believe that her efforts to liberate the aboriginal people are pointless. She finds that those that she tries to help just end up in some other form of trouble. She decides that as a social worker she wouldn’t quite “make the grade” (p. 125).
Cheryl suddenly doesn’t believe in herself.
Closing: There is a poem by Jewel Kilcher that describes Cheryl in a way that honestly reflects her inner feelings at the close of the novel. (appendix “A”)
by Jewel Kilcher
Barcelona, where the winds all blow.
The churches don’t have windows,
But the graveyards do.
Me and my shadow are wrestling again.
Look out stranger, there’s a dark cloud moving in.
But if you could hear the voice it would tell you I’m afraid I am alone.
Won’t somebody please hold me, release me, show me the meaning of mercy, let me loose.
Fly, let me fly.
Let me fly.
I’m blending. I’m blurring.
I am bleeding, into the scenery.
Loving someone else is always so much easier,
But I hold myself hostage in the mirror.
But if you could hear the voice in my heart it would tell you,
I’m tired of feeling this way.
God, won’t you please hold me, release me, show me the meaning of mercy? Let me loose.
Fly, let me fly.
Let me fly.
I won’t be held down,
I won’t be held back.
I will lead with my faith.
The red light has been following me.
But don’t worry sister it’s no longer my gravity.
Hold me, release me, show me the meaning of mercy.
Let me fly, let me fly.