Canadian Short Fiction

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What is the theme of "Blue against White" by Jeanette C Armstrong?

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Life moves forward whether we like it or not, and as it moves on our memories shape our current and future existence, our very individuality. This is a central theme of Jeanette C. Armstrong’s, “Blue against White.”

In this story, the main character, Lena experiences this phenomena as her memories shape her individuality and help her through her times on her Native reservation and in the city. She is able to look back on her memories with detachment, while being able to examine how it is important to embrace one’s unique qualities. She lived on a native reserve, moved to the city, and then went back to the reserve with a whole new perspective. Yet as she looks at her life introspectively, she realizes that each memory, no matter how large or small, shapes who we are and how we respond to the circumstances presented to us both physically and emotionally. She became angry when she examined the cheap, decrepit sameness of the government houses on the native reserve after she returned from her time in the city. Her core of existence, her individuality was influenced by those memories of her time in the city.

The theme of time influencing one’s being, one’s individuality runs throughout the book.

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The central theme is that of finding your place in life where there is a world of a dominant culture and an "other" culture, a culture of the Other who are not like the dominant culture. The dynamic metaphor for this Canadian short fiction about Indigenous people assimilating (or trying to) into the dominant culture is the blue door to a white house on a hill: the house is distinctively set apart, for better or for worse, from all the other houses on the hill.

Although there was a lot of noise, she couldn't see anyone. She felt totally alone, ....

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