I Heard the Owl Call My Name

by Margaret Craven

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In the book I Heard the Owl Call my Name, why did the people of the village ask Mark to stay?

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With simplicity and a marvelous perceptiveness, the people of the village ask Mark to stay because they understand that he has become one with them, and that he will be able to die more peacefully in their world than in the world from which he came.

During his time in the Kwakiutl village, Mark has learned as much from the people there as he has taught them. He discovers that their beliefs have much in common with his Christian faith, and he learns "to live in tune with nature's cycle, to accept endurance and faith as guideposts to survival...and to embrace life as the sum of positive and negative experience ("http://www.enotes.com/heard-owl-qn/themes-characters). Mark has never been told that he is soon going to die, but when the Bishop comes to tell him that he is to be replaced in Kwakiutl, he senses the truth, which is confirmed when, seeking answers, he tells Marta that "(he) heard the owl call (his) name," which in the Indian tradition indicates that death is near. With straightforward honesty, Marta replies, "Yes, my son," and so finally, Mark knows the truth (Chapter 21).

With his newfound knowledge, Mark finds that the world "(has) become a waiting room." More than death, however, he fears returning to the industrialized world from which he came but a few short years ago. He wonders how he can "return now to that far country he no longer (knows), where, while awaiting death, he would be a stranger." Sensing this, and in affirmation of how much he has become a part of their lives, the villagers ask him to stay. Keetah is their spokeswoman, and she tells him,

"Stay with us. Marta has told us. We have written to the Bishop and asked that he let you remain here to the end, because this is your village and we are your family. (Chapter 22).

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