Critical Evaluation

Rabbit Boss is Thomas Sanchez’s first novel. Although Sanchez is not an American Indian, he was greatly influenced by his contact with American Indians when he attended a boys’ boarding school for disadvantaged children. Sanchez chose to write about the Washo because he wished to demonstrate the cultural arrogance of the European Americans and the effect that their attitude of superiority had on Native American society.

The theme of cultural dichotomy is reinforced by characterization and language. For example, Gayabuc and Painted Stick are portrayed as Adam- and Eve-like figures. They have premarital intercourse, so they believe they have sinned against the ways of their people. Gayabuc’s first encounter with the whites is somehow linked to this initial transgression, bringing further bad luck to the tribe. Their ensuing contact with the whites causes their expulsion from their land, which, in turn, adversely affects their traditions and ceremonies.

Captain Rex is probably the most tragic figure in the novel. He is caught between two cultures and is an outcast in both. At one point in the story, his clothing signifies his position. He appears wearing a pair of pants given to him by the white woman who taught him English, with a tattered rabbit blanket around his shoulders. The pants represent the “civilizing” influence of white culture; the worn blanket signifies the fading dignity and power of the Rabbit Chief.


(The entire section is 546 words.)