Is there any humour in part one of Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King? Give examples.

In the first part of Green Grass, Running Water, humor is often evoked in the conversations between the four Blackfoot Indians, Robinson Crusoe, Ishmael, the Lone Ranger, and Hawkeye. They are unable to ever begin telling a story, because they are never satisfied with the way the Lone Ranger starts.

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Generally, the exchanges between the escaped mental institution patients—Robinson Crusoe, Ishmael, the Lone Ranger, and Hawkeye—add a humorous touch to the first part of the story. These four characters have playful banter, but the nonlinear construction of it can be confusing to some readers. Their conversations are meant to replicate the mechanics of Native American storytelling, as they are presumably Blackfoot Indians. This storytelling has a different style and pace than the logical, temporally-organized narratives of the West.

For example, none of the characters can decide on how the Lone Ranger should begin telling a story to them. He proceeds through the various first lines typical to Western culture—“Once upon a time,” “A long time ago in a faraway land,” “Many moons come chucka … hahahah …”—one after the other. Various characters interrupt him to ask what he is doing, presumably because they are confused by the structure of the story. Finally, one of them (King doesn’t indicate which) breaks in, and the following dialogue ensues:

“Perhaps Hawkeye should tell the story,”

“Perhaps Ishmael should tell the story,”

“Perhaps Robinson Crusoe should tell the story,”

“I’m okay now,” said the Lone Ranger.

The Lone Ranger then proceeds to begin recounting the story of Genesis, before he is interrupted again by the others, who tell him that he is telling the wrong story. This scene is comical, because the various characters’ inability to be satisfied with anything the Lone Ranger says prevents him from telling any story whatsoever. The problem is only rectified once they all start engaging in a different language and begin taking turns telling one line of the story, one after another. At a deeper level, the scene is meant to represent (presumably) a non-Western, nonlinear way of storytelling, one which relies more on group participation and oral transmission than the codified styles of English-language literature.

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