The Ecstasy of Rita Joe

by George Ryga

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Ecstasy of Rita Joe shows how indigenous people are marginalized in society. Rita Joe, the main character, recalls a time when she was young and impoverished and wandering the streets alone without anyone to help her. Although she misses her father, she doesn't want to go back to her life on the reservation. Jaimie Paul, a friend of Rita's, is in a similar situation: He left the reservation to come to the city for a better life. At first he finds success in the city, but when he loses his job, his new life comes tumbling down. Instead of going back home, however, he prefers to suffer in the city, because he still believes that he can find hope there. The play also shows how society casts away people that find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Despite knowing Rita all her life, the priest does little to comfort her when she is incarcerated, and her former teacher, Miss Donohue, testifies against her.

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