When one thinks of racism in Canada, they most likely think of the First Nations people. However, one group that is often forgotten is the Métis. Half aboriginal, half white, they always seem to be caught halfway in between, left without a place in the world. Maria Campbell came from a Métis family, and suffered many hardships because of it. In her novel Halfbreed, Maria Campbell uses theme, tone and style to convey her powerful story to her audience.
The theme is based on the idea of shame. Shame is what destroys the Métis people – it is the shame they learn as children that makes them lose their dreams, and shame that keeps them from bettering themselves as adults. Early in the novel, ...view middle of the document...
Shame is what destroys their lives, but they can fight it off if they try.
This novel has a direct, straightforward tone. There are no words wasted, and it is not embellished or sensationalized in any way. Maria Campbell tells her story in a down-to-earth manner, avoiding bitterness and simply stating the facts. It is the simple truth, and all the more powerful for it. She includes some funny anecdotes in the early chapters, which keeps the tone from getting too heavy. However, the mood gets steadily darker throughout the book. She does not use clichés or excess emotion to show that these times were bad. Instead, she uses stark imagery, and states how she felt in simple terms. It seems impossible that it could get better, but the book ends on a hopeful note. Maria says, “The years of searching, loneliness and pain are over for me.” (Campbell 184). While there will be no true happy ending as long as the problems of racism persist, ending the novel in a hopeful way ties the other tone elements together, leaving the story complete, but the reader thinking.
There are several elements of style which also add to the story. One is the use of metaphors, the blanket metaphor in particular. Near the end of the novel, Maria explains,
“My Cheechum used to tell me that when the government gives you something, they take all that you have in return – your pride, your dignity, all the things that make you a living soul. When they are sure they have everything, they give you a blanket to cover your shame. . . She used to say that all of our people wore blankets, each in his own way. . . Someday though, people would throw them away and the whole world would change. . . If they came out from under their blankets, they’d have to face reality, ugly as it was.” (Campbell, 159).
This helps to emphasize the theme of struggling with shame. This metaphor also helps to tie the story together. Early in the novel, we see Maria’s...