In Richard Wagamese Indian horse, Saul’s physical and emotional journey through loss and self destruction leads to his ultimate healing and finding himself. His loss of family, language and community, his triumph and failure he experiences from hockey and how Saul’s struggle with alcoholism allows him to finally face the truth all contribute to Saul being allowed make peace with himself.
On Saul’s journey to healing and finding himself, he also has to loss himself first. This is seen by his loss of family, language and community. The majority of his loss comes from residential school, St. Jerome’s where he was taken to and in the process separated from his family. “At St. Jerome’s we work to remove the Indian from our children so that the blessings of the lord may be evidenced upon them.” (Wagamese 46) St. Jerome’s made it their personal mission to remove the “Indian” from the Indigenous children and replace it with their ways and beliefs. In order for them to do so, they took their culture and traditions away from them, away from Saul who barely had any knowledge on in the first place. This resulted in the children becoming a shell of a person they once were. “I was sore inside. The tearing away of bush and my people was like ripped flesh in my belly.
Every time I moved or speak, it roared its incredible pain.” (48) Saul’s experience with the treatment of St. Jerome’s was traumatic. The pain of having his identity taken away was undeniably unbearable, nothing Saul did could disguise the pain. His pain would always remind him of what he had lost and will never be able to get back. Despite the suffering Saul faced it was the first stop of his journey for the truth.
Hockey has always had a strong important impact on Saul’s life. He had his triumphs and failures with the sport, he had an undying passion beyond words for it. Attending St. Jerome’s Father Leboutilier introduces him to hockey, which Saul quickly develops a passion for. Saul fascination with hockey gave him the courage to find happiness for the first time in a long time. “I was a small boy with out sized skates, and in the world that hockey had created I found a new home.” At this point hockey had more meaning to Saul, he didn’t see it as a sport anymore but a place, home. A Home that offered him safety that allowed him to escape the harsh reality happening around him. Hockey gave Saul comfort he never quite experienced before.
When Saul’s hockey skills drastically improved he begins to play with the Moose and has to deal with the constant abuses on and off the arena from other teams. “Garbage rained down on us. A group of them pissed and shit in our dressing room. The tires were slashed on the vans” Saul and the Moose were often disrespected at the hockey games they played. They faced different attacks such as physical and verbal, this slowly leads to Saul’s passion for the sport to die when he realizes the sport can no longer shield him from what was actually happening. He comes to terms that they were treated like this because they were “Indian” and that’s all others see them for. Although Saul’s relationship with hockey had ups and downs it was an important role in his life.
Later in Saul’s life, hockey no longer filled the pain in his heart and led Saul to turn to alcohol. Alcohol awakes Saul to the truth from his destruction. “I began to drink myself. I only know that when I did the roaring in my belly calmed. In alcohol I found an antidote to exile.” (180) Saul used alcohol to numb his pain. It was his new method to dealing with his past. Saul later realized what alcohol was doing to him and what he was changing to. “I spoke less and drank more, and I became the Indian again; drunken and drooling and reeling, a caricature everyone sought to avoid.” (181) Alcohol turned Saul into the stereotypical Indian that he feared to be, the Indian everyone proceed his “kind” to be.
Saul realizes he isn’t proud of that lifestyle choice and he goes to God’s lake and back to St. Jerome’s to the face the truth he’s been avoiding his whole life. His destruction with alcohol gave Saul the ability to change his life around, for the better. Blake 3
In conclusion Saul’s long, hard journey of loss and self-destruction led him to his ultimate healing from his loss of family, language and community, the good and bad of hockey and his path with alcohol lets Saul acknowledge his truth he denied his whole life.
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