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I Heard An Owl Call My Name

I Heard An Owl Call My Name is a novel written by Margaret Craven, published in 1973. Margaret Craven was born in Helena, Montana and graduated from Stanford University. She started off with her short stories in a large number of American magazines. Some of these stories have been translated into other languages. I Heard An Owl Call My Name was her first complete novel. This story contains a lot of symbolic language.

The setting takes place in Kingcome village, in the Pacific Northwest, where a minister named Mark Brian is leading a mission. Kingcome village is home to a tribe of Indians known as the Kwakiutl natives. The story shows their ups and downs. Mark has a deadly disease, but has no knowledge of it. The Bishop on the other hand knows everything about Mark’s illness. He makes a decision to send Mark on a challenging mission. His goal there was to help the Indian tribe in every way possible. The Bishop s ulterior motive was to help Mark grow as a person. He does not tell Mark about his illness because he wants him to get involved and attached to the Indians.

Mark meets new people and learns all about the Indian cultures, traditions, and rituals. He had to overcome many great difficulties in order to help and convert these proud, Kwakiutl native people. The old ones were unreligious while the young ones had little respect towards the old people and the old ways of life. His first problem was trying to be accepted into this struggling primitive community, which was starting to be swallowed into the white man’s world. Then he had to help preserve the old culture of totems and salmons from being replaced by a new culture of alcoholism and residential schools. A few Indian youths went to a school in Vancouver, to which the elders disapproved because they knew the young people would never return to the village.

In the end, he did succeed in earning respect and trust, maybe even love from the people. But most of all he learned a most valuable lesson – the acceptance of death, life and submission. At the end after finally reaching the people and helping them, he reaches his destiny. His mission does end, but he lives on in their hearts. Mark Brian, who went to an Indian village called Kingcome completing his last mission. The story is fairly simple and straightforward, which helps me really understand and learn a lot about the Kwakiutl culture and customs. The mood remains consistent throughout the whole movie.

Margaret Craven actually went to an Indian village to do her research and learn the culture, tales, as well as the language. Some of the characters and events in the story are based on people she met at the village, and that makes her work much more realistic and believable. The themes discussed in this movie are cycles or changes of life, vanishing ways of life of the natives, and most of all, the acceptance of death.


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