Literary Techniques Used In Thomas King's Poem

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Literary essay – Totem Thomas King’s extensive use of symbolism in his short story “Totem” puts a goofy and nonsensical face on the callous treatment that natives received by North American settlers. A museum director, Walter Hooton, has a problem with noisy totem poles bothering the patrons at his art gallery in Alberta. The solution he decides upon is to cut down the totem poles and move them to a more convenient location; in this case, the basement. Each time, the totem pole refuses to be displaced, and again starts bothering the museum patrons from the corner. King uses four main elements in the story to illustrate his point: the totem poles themselves, the director of the museum and his workers, the museum patrons, and the museum itself. The choice of the totem pole to represent the natives of the Alberta area is a subtle way of re-enforcing the racial stereotypes that surround native people. Totem poles are a tradition of natives from the west coast, and not of the plains. It shows the disregard that the author feels the natives were subjected to regarding their traditions and culture by white settlers in the area who did not care to learn anything about the indigenous people that they were supplanting. The…show more content…
The museum therefore, would have to represent the land that the natives were relocated from, and the fact that settlers did not believe the natives to have any claim to the land that they lived on. The exhibit that the patrons were being disturbed from enjoying was a show on contemporary art from the Atlantic Provinces. The Atlantic art is used to make reference to the actual settlers which have come from the east, and how much the patrons prefer this sort of art to the totem poles, which they find

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