The Trickster

by Muriel Gray

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Muriel Gray's novel The Trickster follows the story of Sam Hunt, a Native American man living in a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, who mysteriously develops gaps in his memory due to intermittent lapses in consciousness. At the same time, a killer is mutilating townspeople and leaving their badly disfigured bodies in the snow. The coincidence leads Sam to believe that he might be the murderer. An ancient demon from tribal folklore known as the Trickster is using Sam to exact vengeance on peopleā€”a demon that one of Sam's ancestors was responsible for taming long ago. Essentially, the plot is focused on Sam's identity and how he must confront his own inner demons in order to save both himself and others.


One important quote from early in the text comes when Sam and his son Billy are waiting on the platform for an oncoming train:

If love could have weight, Sam thought that freight train would have trouble shifting his.

This quote comes in Chapter 3, and it is significant because it provides insight into Sam's character. This expresses Sam's thoughts while his son hugs him, which suggests that Sam is deeply connected to those about whom he cares deeply. This helps to establish Sam's motivation for actions later in the story.


But now there was this. This is what he woke to. The madness of uncertainty, the horror of not knowing and the deeper fear of knowing.

This quote perfectly sums up Sam's emotional changes after he begins experiencing blackouts, during which the Trickster takes hold of his mind. He reflects on how waking up has taken on a new significance for him ever since the episodes began. Instead of looking forward to waking up with his wife, Katie, Sam awakes in terror because he cannot account for the time lost. This quote illustrates paradox of Sam's experience, since he desperately wants to know what is happening to him yet fears that the truth is far worse.


It was the prayer that sealed his place on earth by rejoicing in it in all its forms, making him impenetrable and strong again with love. It was a prayer that would condemn this nightmare to a fight for its own should with the dark one Sam had called, until the greater darkness sucked it dry and left it canceled and powerless beneath the rock.

This quote takes place near the end of the novel, when Sam finally exorcises the Trickster from his body. To do this, Sam recites a Kinchuinik prayer which he previously had purposefully forgotten. The quote is significant because it shows how Sam has reconnected with his Native heritage after an entire adulthood trying to distance himself from his family history. To vanquish the evil force that has wreaked havoc on the town, Sam has to confront his ancestral trauma and reintegrate the closed-off parts of himself. The recital of the prayer functions both as a spell to defeat the Trickster and as a verbal indicator that Sam is finally ready to embrace his true self. This is echoed in the final chapter, when Sam's son, Billy, now an adult, recites the same prayer aloud.

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