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research essay on novel "monkey beach"


Nov 18, 2008   #1
I have finished an research paper on residential school and it is based on the novel, monkey beach. Can you please edit the grammatical errors and give me suggestions for improving my essay? Thanks!

During the late 19th century, the Canadian Government had established the "Canadian Residential School System" which lasted until the 20th century. The residential school system was "to assimilate First Nation people into the dominant society" (Morrissette 381). Their goal was to have the Natives adopt the Western culture and abandon their Indian traditions, languages and religions. The novel "Monkey Beach" by Eden Robinson has emphasized the impact of Indian residential schools on different characters in the story. In the novel, Aunt Trudy, Uncle Mick and Josh are natives who have "experienced every form of abuse - physical, sexual, emotional and spiritual" (Agness 8). These forms of abuse eventually leave emotional scars in all of them in different ways. Consequently, the harsh memories have a substantial effect on how they live their lives, how they treat others and how they continue the cycle of abuse in their own ways. It is clear that the Indian residential schools have affected many natives in significant ways that they may not even be able to recover from the painful experience that they have endured.

After the residential school system was established, native parents had no right to decide whether or not their children should go to residential schools. Therefore, many native children were forced to leave their parents and attend residential schools which were mostly located in isolated areas throughout Canada. Also, most children "were allowed little or no contact with their families and communities" (Kirmayer et al. 17). As a result, some parents never saw their children again. In residential schools, native children were forced to say prayers, never allowed to speak their native languages, and suffered from physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Many people who went to residential schools have claimed that "[Children were] getting strap after strap, all the time because they kept on talking their language" (Agness 84). Furthermore, many children were sexually abused by school staffs who were working in the residential schools and children were told that they were "not allowed to say nothing and even if you do, there's nothing anybody can do" (Agness 62). Also, children not allowed caring for one another or expressing their feelings. As a matter of fact, characters in this novel are people who had gone through these kinds of painful and lonely treatments from residential schools which they carry their problems to their own families and friends and continue for generations.

The government's unfair treatments lead to native activists to create an American Indian Movement (A.I.M) organization, which their goal is to "help improve Indian conditions and to protect Indians against civil rights violations" (DeLeon 18) by the police and government. Uncle Mick has joined this organization after he has suffered from residential school. This symbolizes that Uncle Mick is a character who wants to fight for things that he deserves and expresses his feelings rather than hiding it from others. Moreover, Uncle Mick has reacted furiously when Aunt Edith has been saying grace; he has claimed that Aunt Edith is "buying into a religion that thought the best way to make us white was to fucking torture children" (Robinson 110). One occasion in the novel is when Lisa and Uncle Mick have gone on a boat trip and they have caught a halibut in a crab cage. Uncle Mick has said to Lisa that she shouldn't touch it and "it means either really good luck or really bad luck" (Robinson 98). Uncle Mick is a person who is trying hard not to lose his tradition and claims for his rights that he deserves after his painful experiences from the residential school.

On the other hand, Aunt Trudy is somewhat different from Uncle Mick. She is a person who drinks alcohol, smokes and go to parties. Her lifestyle does not mean that she enjoys being a party type of person, but she uses these factors to let her forget and hide her pain from her memories of residential school. This gives rise to the alcoholic problem in native communities; natives have claimed that "alcoholism is such a rampant issue and still is in our communities but it is clearly rooted in the residential school system" (Agness 108). Clearly, Aunt Trudy is one of the natives who have adopted a serious drinking problem after attending residential school. Besides the drinking problem, she is not a good mother either. She accuses her daughter, Tabitha, for "fucking around...who she was fucking around with" (Robinson 127). Obviously, Aunt Trudy is not a parent who knows how to communicate, take care of her daughter and give her daughter respect. This is a common issue of the natives who went to residential schools, with the emotional abuse that the natives have gone through "native parent is left unsure of generational boundaries, behavioural expectations, and limits" (Morrissette 386). This kind of child rearing practice will likely to pass on to generation to generation. Aunt Trudy is a character in the novel that resembles the major problems that are still happening in native communities for the cause of residential school.

Although Josh is not one of the main characters in the story, but he has gone through his own pain from residential school and he also has committed a serious crime which can be blame for the cause of residential school. In the novel, Josh was molested by a priest when he went to residential school. Consequently, Josh has molested Adelaine Jones which has resulted in teenage abortion. Josh's terrible behaviour to Adelaine is one of the big issues in native communities for generations; "sexual abuse in school and in the community were the cause of powerful emotions" (Niezen et al. 83). Josh has chosen to release his sexual abuse emotions towards Adelaine, and this cycle of sexual abuse can go on to the next generation.

Natives who have experienced different kind of abuse in residential school have resulted in continuing the cycle of abuse in their families. The emotional abuse have committed in family communication problems; many natives have mentioned that they "never really shared [their] feelings and concerns because [parents and children] never bonded when [the children] were young" (Agness 27). Without the care loving family to support one another, children and parents hardly feel love within them which may not stop problems from happening. These problems that are still happening in the communities are hard to resolve but by talking to psychologists, counsellors and family members may help a lot. Healing from their emotion scar will definitely help reconstruct the native communities and stop the continuous problems.



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