What is the lesson of life that Mark learned by living in Kingcome village in "I Heard the Owl Call My Name"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As predicted by the Bishop, Mark discovers that he had more to learn from the people of Kingcome than he had to teach them.  Although what they have taught him is hard to put into words, he finds that he has learned "enough of the meaning of life to be ready to die" (Chapter 20).

From the villagers, Mark learns the value of living as one with the cycle of nature and in harmony with each other in true community.  He learns to "accept endurance and faith as guideposts to survival, to recognize that humanity and the animal kingdom are one and the same, and to embrace life as the sum of positive and negative experience" (Enotes - Themes and Characters). 

Perhaps most important of all, Mark learns the value of tolerance and acceptance of ways which sometimes seem strange to him.  In trying to pinpoint the life lesson he has acquired, Mark understands that he has not learned "the truth of the Indian...there (is) no one truth...he had learned (only) a little of the truth of one tribe in one village...seen the sadness, the richness, the tragic poignancy of a way of life that each year, bit by bit, slip(s) beyond memory and (is) gone" (Chapter 21).  As he demonstrated when he accepted Keetah without condemnation when she returned from the outside world carrying Gordon's child, Mark has learned that humility and understanding is central to harmony, and that teaching and learning is a matter of give and take.

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I Heard the Owl Call My Name

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