I have a homework question and I'm not sure where to start. It reads, "The novel focuses on traumatic experience. What is it trying to communicate about how to survive (or simply respond to) traumatic experience? Is there a way to work past trauma?"
I only have a vague idea that it's suggesting one works through trauma by replacing it with positive things or simply adapting to the trauma. But otherwise I'm pretty clueless.
Hello! You asked about traumatic experience and how to survive/respond to trauma in the novel 'Tracks.'
I would like to suggest that the novel relates a few different ways to deal with trauma. I present two below (please refer to three links below for more insight on dealing with trauma).
Nanapush is a survivor, as pragmatic as he is tenacious. He tells us that he cheats death during the 'year of sickness' and gets well by talking:
Death could not get a word in edgewise, grew discouraged, and traveled on.
As a man who has had three wives and suffered hardships in his life, he is still full of life and does not shy away from playful sexual repartee (conversation where witty replies are made quickly) with Margaret. When Margaret accuses Nanapush of teaching Eli, her son, to make love to Fleur in 'clear daylight' for everyone to see, he is unrepentant.
"Old man," she scorned, "two wrinkled berries and a twig."
"A twig can grow," I offered.
You will see this characteristic humor throughout the book. It is a necessary tool in the Native American arsenal against trauma and the trials of life.
2)Will to survive and the powerful beliefs of traditional Native American religion
When Fleur wins at card-games with three male employees at the meat-store where she works, the men are not happy. They sexually assault her, and in revenge, she calls up a storm with the powers of Misshepeshu (the water/lake monster). The men shelter themselves in the meat-locker, but two of them freeze to death. No other part of the store sustains any damage. Fleur is dangerous and anyone who would tangle with her knows that she is a formidable opponent. When she calls up the wind to do her bidding, it is in revenge for her sexual assault. Yet, using the same as a last ditch effort to save her land, she is only able to prolong the inevitable, not prevent it. She learns that her powers can only thrive through good intentions and for good purposes. On the day the loggers come, she claims her one last revenge. Around her property,
Each green crown was held in the air by no more than splinters of bark. Each tree was sawed through at the base.
When the trees finally fall in a circle after Fleur calls up a windstorm, the wagons and horses are crushed.
The men and animals were quiet with shock. Fearing a second blow, they lay mute in the huge embrace of the oaks.
Fleur leaves and Nanapush tells us he doesn't know whether Fleur will ever return. Her will to survive and her characteristic defiance are both weapons she wields to deal with trauma. Yet, Erdich seems to tell us that she must wield her spiritual powers only for good; then only can she prevail against the inevitable trials of life.
Thanks for the question!