Adversity In Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese Analytical Essay

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

“The eagle has no fear of adversity. We need to be like the eagle and have a fearless spirit of a conqueror!”- Joyce Meyer. In the book Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, main character Saul is forced to overcome a great amount of adversity throughout each chapter, these hard challenges hurt Saul physically, mentally and spiritually; causing him to break. In the beginning of the book, Saul is taken away from everything he knew and put into a residential school where kids were laboured, abused and killed because they were different.

“They called it a school, but it never was that… There were no grades or examinations. The only test was our ability to endure.” (Wagamese p79) The kids in this residential school got one hour of schooling a day. The rest of the day is used for doing all this labour.

“The girls were kept busy in the kitchen, where they baked bread to be sold in town, or in the sewing rooms, where they made our clothing out of the heavy, scratchy material they got from the army. The boys mucked out the stalls of cows and horses, hoed the fields, harvested the vegetables or worked in the carpentry shop.” (Wagamese p79)
They did not get paid for their labour, they didn’t get any form of reward for all the work they did for the school.

The school mentioned throughout the book was named St. Jerome’s Residential School described in the book as “Hell on earth” (Wagamese p81) The main character of the book, Saul, and other children endured many difficulties throughout their time at St. Jerome’s. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, occurred daily. They were forced out of their culture, forced to speak english and forget everything about where they came from.

Along with many other boys, Saul found a way to escape the fear and sadness, hockey, although at first he wasn’t allowed to play because he was too young, but eventually made the team they created which gave him a little hope. He started off with just clearing off the ice every morning, making sure it was clean and just right for the older boys to play on later that day.

Then he began to get the courage to pick up a stick and use animal turds as pucks. After continuing with that for a while Saul began to stuff skates with used paper so they would fit his feet and practiced skating in the morning and practiced plays he had seen on Father Leboutilier’s TV.

The kids on the other team for Saul’s first hockey game called him the mascot because he was so small and drowned in the hockey jersey because it was so big. He is soon recruited to the White River Falcons and trains with the town team. But eventually the coach of the team, Levi Dieter, breaks the news to Father Leboutilier and Saul that teams are beginning to refuse to play against their team because their star player was an Indigenous Canadian.

Things started to look up for Saul as Fred Kelly, coach of hockey team The Moose, an indigenous tournament team, goes to watch him and his team and gave Saul and Father Leboutilier a great offer. To join the team, move out of the residential school and into the Kelly home, despite resistance from other “teachers” at the school, Father Leboutilier agrees and sent Saul off, to give him a chance at a better life.

When Saul gets to the new team, all the boys ignore him and act like hes not there, until he intercepts with the game, passes the puck to a teammate and get a goal.Later on, The Moose is asked to play against the White Canadians and are very reluctant. Racist slurs and anger from the other team and their supporters.

Eventually The Moose wins the game with a score of 6-5 and to Sauls surprise the crowd cheers for him. This changed the game for the team and got them into bigger and better games. One night after a victory they go to celebrate where they are not welcomed by the white men who are also there and the white men beat some of the young boys on the team until they’re covered in blood but give Saul a “pass”.

After this they continue to go to many games where they are treated very poorly, the players of other teams refuse to take off their gloves to shake hands with the team, teams and crowds yell racial slurs and become overly aggressive with the team.

This doesn’t stop them from winning the tournament and getting notice from NHL scouts causing Saul to be recruited for team Toronto Marlboros. In this team, Sauls teammates look down on him for being a “brown face” on top of that the press was really hard on Saul.

“But the press would not let me be. When I hit someone, it wasn’t just a bodycheck; I was counting coup. When I made a dash down the ice and brought the crowd to their feet, it was a raid. If I inadvertently high-sticked someone during a tussle in the corner, I was taking scalps. When I did not react to getting a penalty, I was the stoic Indian.” (Wagamese p163)

As this continued, Saul’s anger got the best of him and he started reacting with violence, which got him kicked off them team. This was the beginning of the end for Sauls hockey career.

Saul finds a job in the forest and receives the same racial slurs from his co-workers as he did in hockey. Until one night when Saul brutally injures a co-worker. Saul moved away from his adopted family and soon became a heavy alcoholic to numb the pain. Saul tried to find the light with work and drinking but “Things glimmered, never shone.” (Wagamese p181)

Saul met a man named Ervin when he moved back up to Northern Ontario, who encouraged Saul to stop drinking, and he did. But then Saul continued to drink in secret, when Ervin would be asleep. Saul left Ervins farm and begins to drink even more! The he tries to stop completely, noticing that the drinking is killing him. But that almost kills him as well, creating seizures – as a symptom of withdrawal – and has to go to the hospital.

Which causes Saul to end up in a drinking facility. One night Saul gets the idea to go back to St. Jeromes to revisit and sees the school is shut down, memories of the sexual abuse from Leboutilier come back to him and the reason he got the job cleaning the ice was to keep quiet about the abuse.

“He’d told me I could play when I was big enough. I loved the idea so much that I kept quiet. I loved the idea of being loved so much that I did what he asked. When I found myself liking it, I felt dirty, repulsive, sick. The secret morning practices that moved me closer to the game also moved me further away from the horror.

I used the game to shelter me from seeing the truth, from having to face it every day. Later, after I was gone, the game kept me from remembering. As long as I could escape into it, I could fly away. Fly away and never have to land on the scorched earth of my boyhood.” (Wagamese p199)

Saul goes through so much. Losing his family, cultural genocide, racism, and alcoholism. The adversity he goes through makes him stronger and overcomes it all. By the end of the book when he gets back to hockey with The Moose again.


Cite this paper

Adversity In Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese Analytical Essay. (2020, Sep 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/adversity-in-indian-horse-by-richard-wagamese/



What are three main topics of the novel Indian Horse?
The three main topics of the novel Indian Horse are residential schools, identity, and the healing power of hockey. The novel explores the devastating impact of residential schools on Indigenous children, the struggle to find one's identity as a survivor of these schools, and the transformative power of hockey in the main character's life.
What challenges does Saul face in Indian Horse?
Saul's main challenge is his alcoholism. He also struggles with his relationships, as well as with his identity as a First Nations person.
What is the main conflict in Indian Horse?
The main conflict in Indian Horse is that Saul is trying to find a balance between his Indigenous heritage and the Western world.
What is the main message of Indian Horse?
Wiesel's message in Night is that the Holocaust was a horrific event that should never be forgotten.
We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out