23 Replies Latest reply on 8-Feb-2017 6:51 PM by aking

    Discussion #1: The Stranger

    teachontario.team

      1. The Stranger

       

      Before Reading This Section:

      • There are 3 panels before the poem/song. How do you predict that they relate?

       

      After Reading This Section:

      • Describe the colour scheme used in this section. How effective are the colour choices?
      • There are many scenes where the focus is not on someone’s face. Choose one panel where this is the case and describe the possible reason and the impact on the message.
        • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
          carolyng

          Here goes!

          The three panels suggest a chronology to me. The first would relate to an event at the school, the empty swing suggests a departure and the crow looks like it is bearing witness.

          The colors set apart Chanie’s life before and after being torn away from his family. The warm colors in the panels where he is with his family say that he was happy and loved. Those colors drain away and the panels depicting his experiences upon arriving at the residential school deliver the message that the love and happiness in his life have drained away, too. 

          I flipped through the book before starting to read it…there are many panels depicting Chanie’s, and other, feet. The one in the first section that resonates with me is at the top of the tenth page; the one with his bare feet and the toes of the boots of the person who is shaving the boy’s head. It underscores the imbalance of power and the vulnerability of the boy. The bare feet are thin and look tense. This image delivers a powerful message that elicits sympathy for the boy and disgust at the inhumanity of the people who hold all the cards.


            • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
              vchetcuti

              You took the words out of my mouth! My response would be the same. The empty swing makes me sad. I feel that the purpose of it is to set a tone for what is happening. The colour sections seem to add a bit of happiness, showing us that his memories of his family are good.

            • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
              jennmacbrown
              • There are 3 panels before the poem/song. How do you predict that they relate?

              Having read the text repeatedly since it came out, authentic predictions would be tough here for me.  But I do recall noticing the sinister  appearance of the masks, the loneliness of the empty swing and the intense stare of the crow.  Like the entire residential schools' mandate the true cultural identity of the children is irrelevant in these images so they are missing from each panel.

               

              • Describe the colour scheme used in this section. How effective are the colour choices?

              With shades of grey, black and white only the colour scheme is dark and drab and lifeless.  My immediate emotional response is sadness and almost like I can feel a chill in the air around me.  This is extremely effective in setting the tone for the entire story.

               

              • There are many scenes where the focus is not on someone’s face. Choose one panel where this is the case and describe the possible reason and the impact on the message.

              Looking at the first image in the terrifying Halloween masks, this connects back to the idea of the children's identities being irrelevant to the Canadian government, religious organizations and staff in the residential schools.  The goal was to "take the Indian out of the child" so it was totally unnecessary for their faces, personalities, feelings, beliefs, languages, needs and lived experiences to matter in reality and Jeff Lemire captures this so effectively. Children were literally and figuratively forced to mask their true selves in order to conform to their white oppressors.

              • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                noproblem

                Though I had already read the text, here are my thoughts:

                 

                In the three panels I see potential themes/ideas that might be at the heart of the work. The children are wearing masks that replace their faces with crude, unpleasant ones; why do they have to wear masks? Why are theses children being seen as monsters? The swing is a childhood rite of passage - it's fun and if you do it right, you're almost flying...but this swing is empty and alone. The raven makes me think of a connection to the spirit world but it feels ominous with that cold stare.

                 

                The panels are white, black and grey - All shades for the most part. These panels give me a cold feeling. Chanie's folded arms make me feel cold especially the panel right before the first panel with some colour...when he begins to remember some good times fishing and with family the panels move to being in colour and this literally makes me warm; I can feel my lips curl into a smile as I look at the panels with his family, in warm colour.

                  • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                    noproblem

                    Many panels speak to me but what I really notice is that in most of the panels  Chanie is stuck against the world around him. The cold, grey scenes of the track, boots walking along the cold ground - these are such a stark contrast with the scenes of his memories where he is warm and happy and enjoying the world around him. Isn't this the way a child his age should be interacting with the world around him? I can also connect with the panel that shows the falling raven feather and how it leads him to the memory of his own failing hair as it's being shaved away against his will.

                  • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                    srosekat

                    There are 3 panels before the poem/song. How do you predict that they relate?

                    To me, these three panels set the scene in focusing us on the children: the masks symbolizing stolen (to the children) and insignificant (to those running the schools) identities; the swing brings to my mind scenes of child abduction in movies - which reflects the abduction that happened here; the raven, I have read (and please correct me if I'm wrong) can be a symbol of transformation and so perhaps the raven's picture here symbolizes the imposed transformation of these children's lives.

                     

                    Describe the colour scheme used in this section. How effective are the colour choices?

                    Colour evokes emotion and I think the colour, or lack thereof, used here works to create a feeling of sadness and despair.

                     

                    There are many scenes where the focus is not on someone’s face. Choose one panel where this is the case and describe the possible reason and the impact on the message.

                    The first panel, with the children's faces covered with masks, I feel was a choice to focus the reader on the children's identities and how they were stolen from them which hopefully works to create an emotional connection between the reader and the children.

                    • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                      gailterry

                       

                      The panels to me depict, losing identity, totally alone and foreboding.

                       

                      After Reading This Section:

                      • The coloured pages elicit a sense of warmth, love , contentment, family, identity, culture and safety.  The black and white pages elicit a sense of darkness, loneliness, sadness, emptiness, determination.  The pure joy, love and sense of pride and family are effectively conveyed in the coloured pictures.  The  black and white pages are equally effective. 
                      • There are many scenes where the focus is not on someone’s face. Choose one panel where this is the case and describe the possible reason and the impact on the message.
                      • Chanie's barefeet in the scenes where he is fishing to me is intended to depict the innocence and connection to nature that comes with childhood and living in the country.  The swinging of his legs over the riverbank makes me feel he has a sense of purpose and belonging and pure contentment.  It says to me "This is where I belong"!!
                      • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                        sevenfold

                        The three frames convey sadness - the masks show that the children's own identities are suppressed and then re-portrayed as someone unrecognizable to them. Swings repeat the same motion over and over, so to me, the swing represents the daily routine of school life. The raven appears like a warning that the suffering is far from over.

                        The monotone colour scheme and sunless sky is very effective in portraying cold, loneliness, and fear, while the warm colours of the boy’s memories – especially the sun and fire – are like his own internal fire to keep him going.

                        The two scenes focused on the feet: The shoes, walking, symbolize feeling trapped/constrained, whereas the bare feet, dangling, signify the freedom to be oneself.

                        • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                          rjerome
                          • There are 3 panels before the poem/song. How do you predict that they relate?

                          The panels display facets of the trauma that will be addressed in the Secret Path. The crow could mean many things but I don't believe it's a bad omen. I think the crow represents a spiritual deity that takes on the shape of the crow. It could be an aspect of Chanie's religion that the residential schools couldn't take away.

                          • Describe the colour scheme used in this section. How effective are the colour choices?

                          It's monochromatic until the stanza that Chanie reflects on his dad. It's a warm memory. Jeff Lemire uses warm colours that contrast with the previous blue and black. I think it's very effective to highlight strategies of survival and stereotypes about indigenous peoples.

                          • There are many scenes where the focus is not on someone’s face. Choose one panel where this is the case and describe the possible reason and the impact on the message.

                          The first panel after "The Stranger" has no person in the panel. It's the backdrop of the entire book: the Secret Path. Revealing what the Secret Path allows the book to become non-linear because the reader is no longer trying to figure out the meaning of the title. It allows for more focus on Chanie Wenjack's possible thoughts when he ran away from the residential school. It allows for more reconciliation.

                           

                          • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                            stratis

                            Before I read the poem.

                             

                            The first panel seems to hide the true identity of the person.

                            The second show loss.

                            The third show evil.

                            They all relate to sadness in my opinion.

                             

                            After...

                            • Describe the colour scheme used in this section. How effective are the colour choices?

                            The colour show happiness.  The days are bright therefore so is the future.

                             

                             

                            • There are many scenes where the focus is not on someone’s face. Choose one panel where this is the case and describe the possible reason and the impact on the message.

                            The panel  showing the long, long train tracks with no sign of life.  It seems to be a path leading to endlessness.

                             

                            JS

                            • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                              daylaur

                              Before Reading This Section:

                              • There are 3 panels before the poem/song. How do you predict that they relate?

                               

                              I think the masks relate to the title/theme of stranger... the subject of the poem is a stranger (to most people who are not familiar with the story), and the masks over the children's faces hides their identity, making them strangers, too. I think the swing is symbolic of childhood, and the innocence and vulnerability of children, and the raven - especially a close-up portrait like this - fills me with a sense of foreboding about the events to follow.

                               

                              After Reading This Section:

                              • Describe the colour scheme used in this section. How effective are the colour choices?
                              • There are many scenes where the focus is not on someone’s face. Choose one panel where this is the case and describe the possible reason and the impact on the message.

                               

                              The colour scheme is dark and cold.  I think the colour choices are very effective at conveying a sense of isolation, sadness, and desperation.  I like the panel in the pages after the poem where Charlie's feet are dangling over the water with the fishing line.  I think the purpose is to draw our attention to individual moments and sensory details we can relate to that remind us of similar experiences we may have had as children.

                              • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                                aking

                                I'm really trying hard to be in the moment but I wondered if all those masks were part of a crafting exercise... it's a settler-culture thing to have Halloween, so maybe it's to indicate the season?  But also, only 1 mask has a beak...like the raven in the bottom panel.  Maybe that's Chanie hiding in the raven mask?

                                 

                                I really like the parallel between the raven's feather falling and Chanie's hair being cut.  It moves me to feel that Chanie's hair is as important to him as feather are to the raven and the look on his face says he feels really sad.

                                 

                                I'm wondering about Jeff Lemire's art techniques.  It looks to me like he draw's his subject in black ink and then watercolours the background.  He's using cool, bleak colours in Chanie's present and warm glowing colours in his flashbacks.

                                • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                                  tallan

                                  Three panels... I wondered about the play or duality of FN symbols, i.e., masks and the Raven with the story. If that's the case then the page could almost be asking the question "Which one doesn't belong?" Reading the responses from everyone in this post has really been thought provoking, so many great interpretations.

                                   

                                  The colour scheme for these 3 panels is very blue and sad. On the following pages the blue/black colours are continued, but he adds yellow for happier scenes like fishing.

                                   

                                  Regarding the lack of faces, it seems like we don't see the faces of the oppressors, e.g., the children in masks, the person cutting hair, the nuns. Could this be because if those people aren't identified, they can't be blamed or held accountable?

                                  • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                                    leah.kearney

                                    Not that the discussion is over but I thought I would try and capture some of the ideas that are percolating in the conversation. After reading through the posts in Discussion #1 The Stranger it seems that Jeff Lemire’s use of colour struck so many of you. The juxtaposition between the stark, cold shades that depict the scenes at the residential school and the warm, sunny colours that he uses when showing us Chanie’s life at home with his family is impactful to the reader. Some interesting questions about the obscured faces and the notion of accountability and responsibility also emerged. A recurring theme in this section is about feet and those moments of childhood in which Chanie is happy and free which contrast to the image of his boots as he walks and walks.  Something else that I wondered about when looking closely at the images was how adept Jeff Lemire is at reminding us of childhood and what it feels like to be 12. My youngest daughter is 12 and is “all leg”, she just had a growth spurt and has shot up in height. You see that physicality in the images of Chanie: it seems like he wants to be moving, to be free, to play.

                                    We all noted the feelings that arise in this opening part of the book and Emile aptly described it as an  "overwhelming read."

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                                    • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                                      ruthmurray-edu

                                      You have said there are 10 poems / sections, which is how we'll organize our discussion. There is no table of contents though. Maybe the 3 frames are serving the purpose of the table of contents visually? This first is "The Stranger" - whenever we wear a mask we become a stranger to everyone else - it is very hard to get to know a masked being.  The empty swing is very lonely / abandoned. Perhaps the raven is Chanie's spirit?

                                      I agree that the colour reflects happiness; it also makes the use of black and white even more noticeable and stark.

                                      The empty swing, the tracks, the child's boots on the tracks, the child's bare feet with the adult boots beside, the feather - amazing how emotion can be portrayed and evoked without a single human expression. The similarity between the raven losing a feather as it flies away, and Chanie's hair being cut, reinforces my idea of perhaps the raven representing Chanie, and also may foreshadow Chanie's attempt to "fly away".

                                      • Re: Discussion #1: The Stranger
                                        patrizia

                                        The three panels, I believe, illustrate the poem “The Stranger” in three distinct ways. The first illustrates various masks which could be interpreted as the many forms a stranger can take. In this instance it can be in the form of a devil, a menacing pirate, a monster, a duck or a masked villain.

                                        The second panel, the empty swing, could suggest the act of a stranger which could be the taking of a child.

                                        The third panel which is the crow, is a constant in the book however it is the first time that it is revealed. Crows are often associated with death, since they eat dead animals. It too can symbolize a stranger since strangers are associated with gloom and negative events.

                                         

                                        I am a visual learner and therefore the shades and hues of colour effect the feelings being  portrayed on a page. In this section the colour that is constant is grey, which is a cold and dreary colour. This colour is often used to show the negative events that are happening in the poem. The illustrator adds the warm hues of yellow and orange when the child reflects on the happier times such as his recollection of family and fishing, things he obviously treasured most. Therefore the reader’s emotions are not only affected by the images but also the colours that are chosen to depict the images.


                                        The illustrator depicts feet often in his drawings. Two found in the fishing scene which show suspended feet and the innocence and fragility of the child. The second instance are the skinnier feet, pressed against the cold, tiled bathroom floor, surrounded by shreds of hair. This still show fragility and innocence but they now look l;ike the feet of a malnurished child.  This time they are beside a pair of dark heavy boots which triggers emotions of fear in the reader.