Can anyone explain to me about the character of Rita Joe in The Ecstasy of Rita Joe?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rita Joe represents the fundamental challenge that the disenfranchised Native American youth face in a White society.  The lack of pure communication between Rita Joe and the magistrate in her first trial is representative of how a communication gap exists between White society and the culture of the Native Americans.  Her desire to move to the city, entering the world of Whites, is one that ends up spelling her doom through the alienation she experiences at the hands of White culture.  Her existence is one in which she is trapped by the past, one in which White society's expectations of how Native Americans should act and should behave color her own maturation.  She is also trapped by the hopelessness of the present in that there avenues and opportunities for a woman like Rita Joe in the city are not very good.  The fact that she is raped and murdered is reflective of how dire such situations are for Native American culture in the face of the White culture.  Her character is one that represents the pain and futility of being, motivated by promise and possibility at one point in time. Through this, Rita Joe ends up becoming a symbol of how Native American culture can be destroyed by the dominant culture.  Her character is a reminder that to discard an entire group of people can only lead to destruction and disenfranchisement of their youth.

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The Ecstasy of Rita Joe

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