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Seat in the Garden

The short story A Seat in the Garden, by Thomas King is an historical tale that depicts the cultural clash of Native Americans with non-natives. The story is about Joe and Red. King attempts to show the tension between American and Indian cultures. This paper will explore the symbolic aspects of the story. It will discuss how characters, images, setting, and text all represent something in society.

King used symbolic elements in his fiction story A Seat In the Garden. The two main characters are symbolic in their text. King uses Joe and Red, two ignorant white men who are hostile to other cultures, especially Indians. Joe sees the Indian guy standing on his property and is in no mood to take it any longer. King depicts Joe’s character as ignorant and arrogant. He orders the Indian man to leave his property .King 238, Joe represents individualism in American culture. Everyone is allowed to have their property. No one else is allowed to use the same property. King shows the arrogance of Americans towards other cultures. Joe hates Indians so much that he believes there is a man on his cornfield farm. Red is just like Joe. He hates Indians too. That is why he hallucinates the large Indian man standing in the middle the farm. Both characters view the Indians as more righteous than any other people. Red and Joe arrive at the station in the afternoon to share their observations. However, when the officer arrives, Red and Joe tell him that there aren’t any Indians in the area. As a confirmation, the two arrogant characters refer to the Indians to as drunks. Joe on the other hand calls the Indians “old winos” (King, 1997, 240).

Red and Joe don’t understand two stereotypes. The big Indian guy standing in the middle a cornfield is symbolic. It symbolizes the gap between the two cultures. Red and Joe are unable to see the big Indian guy’s mouth move, but they can understand his words. They call in help from their friends and ask them for drunks to help interpret the big guy’s speech. “Maybe they should ask the Indiansmaybe that would be possible” (King, 1997: 244) Both characters are stereotypical in their attitudes towards Indians and fail to realize the true nature of their perceptions. The characters aren’t ready to change how they perceive others, especially Indians who they believe were ever drunken and smelly (King, 1997, 241). We can see how King shows the wrong perception the White had of Indians. Both characters were wrong when they got to the Indians and discovered that they were not drinking as much beer as they thought. The Indians were drinking lemon water, which is a very different perception from what Joe and Red thought.

The Indians are a symbol of the discriminated and despised people in society. King depicts his Indian characters being despised by the white men who feel that Indians are no worth standing on their property. Red and Joe go to the despised for help when they’re in desperate situations and can’t send him off the farm. They also realize that the Indians think that the white men are foolisher than they are and decide to play their games. The symbolic act of the white men reaching out to Indians for help is symbolic because it shows their desperation towards the big Indian guy. Red and Joe feel desperate that the big Indian guy cannot be sent out of Joe’s cornfield. They have tried calling the police but have not received the help that they need. So they resort to the same people they loathe the most. After realizing that the Indians are stupid and hallucinating they take the opportunity to speak with the big Indian guy they call a spirit (King, 1997, 242). Red and Joe tell Red that the Indian guy needs a bench to rest on in the middle.

The color of white men is symbolic of purity and righteousness. Joe and Red are righteous, and they can’t be compared to drunken, smelly Indians. Red and Joe realize that they are unable to drive the Indian big man away from their garden. They call for police help. Red, one of the characters, symbolizes impurity and righteousness for white men. Red is a stain in white that goes against the righteousness of white.

This essay is about symbolism and Thomas King, A Place in the Garden. The author has given examples of situations in the text a Seat in Garden which are symbolic. The author uses symbolism to explain the contradiction between Indian and American cultures. King has provided images and characters that help in the interpretation of his short fiction.


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