The Rez Sisters Questions and Answers
by Tomson Highway

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Describe the function and significance of Nanabush in the world of Highway's plays The Rez Sisters and Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing.

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Debby Lowell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In both plays, and particularly in The Rez Sisters, Highway uses the figure of Nanabush to explore the spiritual subtext of his writings, embodied in the character of Nanabush—a trickster figure—who offers commentary on the politics of gender as well.

Trickster gods linger in various folk culture, and the primary attribute of the trickster and their actions is an absence of moral dualism—the trickster is not good or bad, but rather playful and often manipulative, largely so as to expose the foolishness of others.

Nanabush (an Ojibway name) is an androgynous, liminal figure, often without determinate shape, language, or gender. In this way, he/she is a supernatural figure/deity, able to expose gender as an imposed concept, particularly in its imperial context (how gender roles were impressed upon First Nations’ women).

In The Rez Sisters , only Zhaboonigan and Marie-Adele can see/speak to Nanabush. They also happen to be the most bodily damaged of characters and because of this,...

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