Ashwin Philip Monday May 1st, 2017
Course: Animals and Environment
The Wily Coyote
Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water is a novel which explores the mistreatment of a Blackfoot tribe while also exposing the readers to different stereotypes that are employed by “white people” to degrade the native community. A comical approach to the novel is a key factor in King’s success as it keeps readers interested and also allows the author to give his opinion on the racism that members of the Blackfoot community fall victim to. Coyote is a character that plays an important role in the story by keeping the plot fluid. Throughout the novel, Coyote believes that he has the “Midas touch”, although the consequences of his actions seem to show anything but that. It goes without question that Coyote’s actions as well as his character traits, cement his importance in the novel as a “trickster” figure.
In the beginning of the story, the readers are told that “In the beginning, there was nothing.”(1) Even at this time, Coyote was still present. This shows that Thomas King has placed Coyote on a pedestal above all the other characters. He is not simply a mortal. Coyote is placed on a level so close to God that he rivals him. We even learn that Coyote supposedly gave birth to God. In the first few pages of the novel, there is a conversation between the Christian God and Coyote in which Coyote’s authority is shown: ““I don’t want to be a little god, says that god. I want to be a big god! “What a noise,” says Coyote. “This dog has no manners.”(3) The fact that Coyote literally calls the Christian God a “dog” demonstrates the authority that he has over him, or rather, the authority that he believes he has. King presents this conversation to the readers in such a way that one is led to believe that Coyote is the dominant figure, and it is he who runs the world. In an almost laughable way, Coyote’s ridicule of the Christian God can be associated with the humorous aspect of the “trickster”[footnoteRef:1]. On one hand, for the readers, it is inconceivable to see the manner in which the Christian God is being belittled; while on the other hand, for Coyote, everything seems like a game in which he can say and do whatever he pleases. In another conversation, Coyote approaches the Christian God in another tone: “What happened to my void? Says that GOD. Where’s my darkness? Hmmmm,” says Coyote. “Maybe I better apologize now.”(37) This sequence of dialogue comes right after the Christian God accuses Coyote of altering the land without his will. The fact that Coyote even considers apologizing contrasts to the degrading tone he used in their earlier conversation. However, the fact that Coyote was able to make changes to the Earth against the power of the Christian God once again demonstrates his power and high placement in the story. [1: Babcock-Abrahams, Barbara....