The three key differences between them that are paramount to the story and the themes of the novel are; firstly their respect for their Oji-Cree culture, secondly their respect and love for human life, and lastly their personalities. The differences in their personalities create positive chemistry back in their homeland of Canada, but when they are sent to Europe to fight in World War One, their relationship is put to the test. An important difference between Elijah and Xavier is the difference in their respect for their Aboriginal culture.
Respecting their Oji-Cree culture is paramount to Xavier, while it is much less important to Elijah. An example of Xavier’s close association with his aboriginal culture can be seen through the following quote, “All of them stare down at me. I look up, sitting cross-legged with one of the horses sprawled beside me, its head on my lap. I look like I’ve been painted red. The smell of blood is heavy. It covers the wooden walls, the floor, the straw upon the floor. Elijah sees that one of my hands rests on the floor with my skinning knife in it. The horse’s neck gapes open along its big artery. (Page 189) This example shows Xavier’s connection to his aboriginal culture because having respect for animals is a major part of the Oji-Cree morals. In this exact scene Elijah was willing to shoot the horses, which shows a lack of respect for the animal, which goes against the morals of his aboriginal heritage.
A second key example of how Xavier and Elijah differ when it comes to their aboriginal culture is seen through Elijah’s willingness to assimilate into European culture. In the novel Elijah states, ““Jolly good night for a little snooping, eh, Thompson? Elijah says. Thompson shakes his head at the words, and his teeth are white almost to a glow. “You do a better British accent than a Brit”, he says. ” (Page 137) Elijah’s readiness to develop an English accent is in stark contrast to the fact that Xavier refuses to assimilate into the European culture. The third example of how Xavier and Elijah are different in the way they treat their aboriginal heritage is seen when the two of them are on their way to Toronto and they sell their canoe to get some extra money so they can afford new clothes.
These new clothes are a necessity because they need to blend into their new environment to a certain extent. The following quote depicts the moment perfectly, ““When Elijah strolls out, I laugh. He has chosen a black suit and stiff, high white collar. In the mirror he looks like a preacher. This appeals to Elijah” (Page 142). In the scene, it is obvious that Xavier purchases his clothing out of necessity, while Elijah purchases his new clothes because it is appealing to assimilate into the new Canadian culture they are about to be immersed within.
The most important part of the quote is the final sentence, which states, “This appeals to Elijah”. The fact that it appeals to him proves that he has interest in being assimilated into the Canadian society. Through the example presented it is blatant to see that Xavier has respect for his Oji-Cree culture, while Elijah has a lack of respect for it. A second example of how Elijah and Xavier differ is seen through their different views of brutality and respect towards other people’s lives.
Xavier has a lot of respect for humans and their lives and due to this he kills out of necessity. On the other hand, Elijah enjoy killing humans and does it for the sake of sport. A perfect example of how Xavier and Elijah differ in regards to the respect of human lives is seen in the subsequent quote, “I jump to my feet before I know that I do it and approach Elijah with balled fists. Then I find myself reaching for my knife. But what he said makes me gag and I kneel down and stick my finger down my throat. The contents of my stomach come out in a slimy glob”. Page 310) This example highlights the fact that Xavier isn’t even willing to joke about eating German citizens, while Elijah doesn’t only find it funny he can’t understand why Xavier would take it so incredibly seriously. Elijah’s lack of respect for the people he kills shows a vicious brutality that is not seen in Xavier Bird. A second example of how Xavier and Elijah’s personalities contrast can be seen through Elijah’s thirst to kill people. Elijah’s obsession over carnage can be highlighted in the following excerpt, “In the long hours of hunting Elijah tries to understand what is growing on him.
He talks to me about this through the nights we spend out in the damp and mud. Mist rises from craters and swirls in the stink. In the end, the answer that comes is simple. Elijah has learned to take pleasure in killing” (Page 283). This quote is an incredible example of Elijah’s brutality because it is not only seen through his actions, but also his thought process. It proves that Elijah is not just killing for necessity he has actually gone mad. This highlights the difference between the two characters because Xavier strictly kills so he can survive through the war.
The final exemplar in regards to Brutality and respect for human life can be emphasized by the connection that the two main characters have with their comrades. The following quote accentuates this fact, “He opens his eyes and looks up at Elijah. Elijah raises the wood in both hands and swings it down hard as he can onto Grey Eyes’ forehead” (Page 340). This exemplar distinctly shows the variance in Elijah’s connection with his comrades in comparison to Xavier relationship with his comrades. Xavier doesn’t have the ability to speak as well as Elijah, but he has a much stronger emotional connection with the people he fights with.
When looking at Elijah, it undisguised that he doesn’t have a strong emotional connection with any of his comrades and if there is connection at all it is strictly to use them. Elijah’s closest friend in the war other than Xavier was Grey Eyes and he was willing to kill him so he could get away with the crimes he had committed. In conclusion, Xavier puts his comrades and the people he is fighting against in high regard and has a serious respect for them, while Elijah just wants to eliminate every problem that confronts him; he doesn’t care how he does it.
The third and final example between the two characters that has a major effect on the story and the key themes of the novel are their personalities. As stated in the opening paragraph, Xavier is reserved and visceral, while Elijah is self-assured and talkative. Xavier was raised by his Aunt Niska for the Majority of his childhood, opposed to how Elijah was raised in Moose Factory by nuns at a residential school. These differences in upbringing play a distinct role in how the two of them make decisions, and how closely they hold onto their aboriginal culture.
It is clear that the chemistry of their friendship works in the setting of the Northern Ontario woods, but it fails to follow through when they fight in World War One. An example of a difference between the two characters is seen in the way that Xavier is much more a quiet character, he doesn’t have much to say because his English isn’t very strong. A subtle yet important example of this is seen in the ensuing quotation, “”So you’re an Indian, then? ” he asks. I nod. “You’re pretty short for an Indian, ain’t ya?
The others laugh. ” (Page 23) Xavier’s trouble with the English language is highlighted in the excerpt because all he does is nod. This makes life in Europe incredibly awkward for Xavier. This is in blatant contradistinction to Elijah because he thrives in this type of situation. Elijah’s verbose nature can be examined in the following passage, “He began talking this way to get the others to laugh, but he likes it now. Makes him feel respectable. He told me there’s a magic in it that protects him. (Page 137) Elijah’s ability to speak English fluently and to adapt the way he talks so that he has an English accent makes him much more popular with their comrades. Elijah’s upbringing has an effect on his appeal for European culture because instead of being brought up in the wilderness he is brought up in a residential school by nuns. Giving him a much different outlook on their culture than Xavier.
The final example of how Elijah and Xavier differ in terms of personality is seen best in the following passage, ““I wish I could fly like that,” Elijah says to me in Cree. I wish I could fly like that, like a bird,” he repeats, staring up like a little boy. “Maybe a pilot will take me up sometime. ” “Me, I’m happy to stay on the ground on my belly in the dirt,” I answer. “Thinking about falling from up there makes me sick”” (Page 164). This passage highlights the difference between their adventurousness. Elijah’s willingness to go up in a plane can be correlated with his courageousness in battle. Xavier’s contentment with being on the ground can be correlated with his timid nature socially and on the battlefield to a certain extent.
This quotation proves that Elijah has a much more adventurous personality than Xavier. In cessation, Elijah and Xavier are incredibly different people with personalities that are nearly opposites and this ends up having an extreme effect on the plot and the themes of the story “Three Day Road”. In conclusion, the two main characters in the novel “Three Day Road” by Joseph Boyden; Xavier Bird and Elijah Weesageechack, have many significant differences that are illustrated over the course of the novel. As shown with the supporting points above, Xavier is reserved and visceral, while Elijah is self-assured and talkative.
Xavier was raised by his Aunt Niska for the majority of his childhood, opposed to how Elijah was raised in Moose Factory by nuns in a residential school. These factors that affect their personalities have major impacts on the three main differences that lie between them. These differences are, firstly their respect for their Oji-Cree culture, secondly their appreciation and love for human life, and lastly how they carry themselves throughout the novel. The differences between them have a positive influence on their relationship when they are in Canada, but in Europe, these differences end up destroying their friendship.