While Niska may appear to make unethical and selfish decisions, it is arguable that her reaction stems from unfair treatment and a will to survive. Niska recalls to her early womanhood when she is violated by the French man in the church. Niska becomes cognizant of her mistake when the Frenchman reveals, “You are nothing special, just another squaw whore. I took your power away in this place and sent it to burn in hell where it belongs”(Boyden 174). This statement reveals the raw, malicious intentions of the Frenchman as he takes advantage of Niska in her vulnerable state. Niska was led to believe his actions were out of love and compassion but is soon faced with the harsh reality of this event. After escaping the clutches of the Frenchman’s physical grip on her, Niska constructs a shaking tent in an attempt to rid herself of his emotional grasp. Niska recalls of her one request to the animal spirits when she narrates, “I asked the lynx a favour that would change me forever. I asked him to find the source of my hurt and extinguish it”(176). This passage unveils Niska’s need to seek refuge and asylum in her spirituality in hopes that it will heal her. The shaking tent is a medicine more powerful than any pharmaceutical drug that Niska can be prescribed. She fights back and destroys the Frenchman by calling on her spirituality and cultural roots to resist a means of oppression. Following the shaking tent ritual, Niska is enveloped in an ambiance of warmth and encounters “A sense of peace”(176) that washes over her. Knowing that her spirit animal, the lynx, is watching over her like a metaphorical “guardian angel”, gives her a sense of security and confidence as it makes all of her uncertainties dissolve. Although Niska does not directly state her reaction, the reader can infer that justice has been served. Overall, the incident and its just ending reveal how Niska and aboriginal people as a whole need to seek shelter in their cultural and spiritual beliefs to rejuvenate themselves.
The negative influences of war drive Elijah to his limit and force him to evolve into something foreign from himself. To Xavier’s distaste, Elijah decides to imitate a foreign accent to entertain his fellow comrades. “Dear Henry,” Elijah says, using their code, “would you be a kind chap and make me a cup of tea?”. This passage reveals that Elijah’s eminent fear of being cast out of the group forces him to believe that acting uncultured will somewhat protect him. He earns the respect of the white men by making them laugh while distorting their views on him so that they’d be more accepting of him. This event is a significant microcosm of feeling not good enough and insecure about yourself in your own flesh. This particular event seems to be the early beginnings of a transition away from Elijah’s identity. At the french troop’s suggestion, Elijah begins to collect the scalps of those he has killed as trophies. “And what will collecting these trophies do for me?” Elijah Asks. “They will buy you honor among us” Francis says. “And we are honorable men” (204). Elijah begins to adapt to the war and it’s cruelties. Now that he has made it a competition, he enjoys killing and is hungry for flesh. Elijah desperately seeks recognition from his comrades as he feels he has to prove himself. Being an aboriginal minority gives Elijah an immediate disadvantage and it’s this fuels him to eventually morph into a wendigo. When Xavier and Elijah are on a sniping mission, they encounter a mother and a child whom Elijah kills instantly. Elijah protects himself by explaining to Xavier that he is “Trained not to hesitate in situations of danger”(306). At this point, it is apparent that all emotion that may have once flowed in Elijah’s body and soul has dissipated. His killing is now robotic and systematic after weeks of morphine addiction and an obsession of slaughtering everything in his path. This killing soon branches out to not only innocent people and enemies, but also to close comrades and allies. In fear of being court-martialed, Elijah kills lieutenant Breech and Grey Eyes during a frenzy of shellfire. “We have no other choice,” Elijah answers. “”I do not want to spend the rest of my life in their prisons.” He swings the wood again and again, battering the little man’s head until the life has left him”(340). This piece of evidence displays that a part of Elijah still cares for Xavier and his well being. In contrast, this event also reveals the process of Elijah further descending into madness. While he may mean well, Elijah’s actions against injustice and the reasoning behind it has been distorted by his views on ethicality. These actions ultimately lead to the demise of Elijah