Thomas King’s novel Green Grass, Running Water doesn’t feature formal chapters. While there are clear section breaks, there are not sections marked chapter 1, chapter 2, and so on. The absence of official chapters, and the inclusion of so many characters, can make King’s novel hard to follow at times. Sometimes the sections deal with the plight of the Lone Ranger, Ishmael, Robinson Crusoe, and Hawkeye. Other times, they portray the experiences of Babo Jones or Eli Stands Alone. They also touch on the perspectives of Lionel Red Dog and Alberta Frank.
When the perspectives of Lionel and Alberta appear, a reader should be able to spot them because most of the ensuing section will revolve around them. For instance, the section that begins with “Lionel had made only three mistakes in his entire life” is from Lionel’s perspective. The narrator tells about Lionel’s ordeal with removing his tonsils.
A few sections later, the perspective switches to Alberta. The narrator illuminates Alberta’s romantic entanglements. The reader finds out more about why she prefers to keep two men in her life.
A couple of sections later on, after the reader receives the perspectives of other characters, the novel returns to Lionel’s perspective. This section, which begins with Norma asking Lionel if he’s awake, tells about the second big mistake of Lionel’s life—his journey to Salt Lake City, Utah.
This jumpy pattern continues throughout the novel. At the end, Lionel’s and Alberta’s perspectives join together as both agree to help Norma with the cabin.