No matter what culture, what place, what time; a story that is being told always has certain characters within it to give it depth, to portray different themes. Despite the leaps and distances of cultures and peoples, certain characters types appear multicultural. These archetypes as many have called them, are used as a reflection of human nature and helps develop an understanding of the story that is being told.
Ravensong by Lee Maracle is a story that speaks of a long history topic of the relationship between white settlers and the Indigenous peoples of Canada. Set in a very controversial time where traditionalism and modernity are fighting for a place, it acts as a backdrop for surfacing many issues that the characters in the novel experience….
She knew they stayed confined to their villages for false reasons: segregation between the others and her own people had as much to do with how to others felt about the villagers. Raven saw the future threatened by the parochial refusal of her own people to shape the future of their homeland…She had to drive them out, bring them across the bridge (44).
The book is chock-full of mentors and teachers, from both sides, who help give insights on situations that are too complex to understand in itself. These mentors, the elders, are a precious and powerful thing; that despite the death of an elder their teachings can still be passed down orally as is the tradition of native storytelling.
Old Nora is the first character we meet in the novel, an elder of the community who had passed on. Elders come with the knowledge and wisdom of the world that can only be attained by living a long life. Stacey, despite having not known Old Nora well, is constantly looking back on her when she gets stuck on her quest of understanding, to which a very well-known native archetype on her own – Old Nora – replies with a very clear and unbiased “No use thinking…
She is the spyglass, the character that binds the past to the present as well as the future. Her innocence and lack of understanding of her visions give it a desperation and ache that Raven had felt once the encounters of the two worlds set up a racial border (Aurylaite, 2007).
Other characters like Owl was the messenger of death. Cedar: the tree of life comforted Celia when her visions became too much. The river and bridge acted as a mediator in Stacey’s thoughts of her world and the other’s.
Polly was the Catalyst which pushed Stacey on her quest to understanding.
The characters are all diverse and bring varying perspectives to the table of Stacey’s and the reader’s understanding. The role of the women in the novel, no matter the age, is to help one another, and their archetypes do exactly that. The term “Too much Raven,” which is often phrased in the book by all the women describes the mischevious side in them, but also their role as caretakers of their people, specifically what Stacey’s role was. Raven is as much as the women in the book as she is the…