Before Reading This Section:
- What might be the multiple layers of levels of meaning in the title of this section?
There may be layers of physical and emotional fear and defiance
After Reading This Section:
- This is the first section that uses text in the visuals. Why now? Why is this significant for Chanie AND the reader?
The words 'See the boy run', may have given Chanie the courage to do just that. The reader hopes Chanie will do just that.
The title "I will not be struck" could be seen in different ways. Corporal punishment was normal in residential schools to the point of well-documented abuse. Chanie could very well be saying "I will not be struck - you're not going to hit me ever again!" as he runs away. The fact that he is on a train track makes me think that there is always the threat of a train hitting him so maybe "I will not be struck" is a simple response to the warning that any 12 year-old boy would get from a parent or guardian (they'd probably warn them about getting hit by the train and the child would likely feel like it's simply impossible to be struck).
The text used in this section is powerful - the timing makes sense because at some point anyone on a path, anyone travelling would consult their map (for most of us today that's on a phone or the GPS of a car, but we are still consulting a map). Chanie stops to take a look at his map, but it's covered in English words. It's covered in the language of the people who have been hurting him, the people who took him away from his family, the people he is running away from. He can't really understand this language anyway, otherwise he wouldn't have thrown the map into the fire. I think the reader needs to see this happening. I think the reader needs to understand that Chanie's map was basically useless to him, just like the rudimentary lessons in English that he was forced to take. The lessons were a part of "their" world, not his and, as such, he doesn't know how to read his map because it's written in "their" language.
The blackboard shows the reader how ineffective the lessons likely were and turns the story inward in a way when we notice that on the board one of the sentences is "see the boy run" and we are doing just that as we read this text.
Of course, there is the literal one… Chanie avoids being struck by a train by resting his ear on the track. At school, Chanie is not willing to submit to a beating. I wonder…..does the priest use the pointer as a weapon? Chanie’s life can be likened to a match…to strike the match sets into motion its destruction. Chanie’e match was struck when he ran away. The result was inevitable. He remains determined to survive his journey in spite of the overwhelming odds. As long as there is fire there is hope.
The map gives us a sense of those odds and sets the stage for the rest of the journey. We are stuck by the cruel circumstances in which Chanie must struggle and the hopelessness. His eyes grow wide as he is struck by the message encoded in the map; he realizes the enormity of the task he has set himself. He doesn’t surrender; his eyes narrow as he renews his resolve to keep moving, rather than returning to the school. The map has delivered its message and he throws it on the fire in an act of defiance.
I will not be struck:
Some meanings could be: he is choosing not to be hit/hurt anymore at the school, he will not submit to their system, he will not die there.
The text in this section shows us that Chanie is trying to read the map, but he can't remember the English words or, more likely, doesn't yet have the vocabulary. This is significant for him because he appears to all of a sudden lose hope - perhaps this is his first full realization that he may not be able get home. It is significant for the reader because we can see that the education he has received so far, at the school, is of very little use to him in the real world. We can also see, from the map, that even if he chooses the right direction, he has very, very far to go.
For me, the meaning of the title can be seen in many ways. First, I read it as Chanie refusing to be brought down by what was happening to him and others at the school. It his strength in his desire to return to his family. I also see it as defiance from the matches, and the hope that they were meant to give, to help to save Chanie's life.
After reading: The words seem to represent everything that Chanie is running from. The world he was forced to live in and learn.
Thanks Vicki, Jane, Carolyn, Emile and Janet for your interpretations.
For those catching up to this discussion, here's a synopsis of the insights so far.
"I will not be struck" is a message that works on multiple levels. Janet saw it as a declaration based in fear and defiance of physical and emotional strikes. Emil mentioned the corporal punishment that was often used at residential schools. Both Emile and Carolyn connected the image of Chanie lying with his ear to the tracks to the danger of a train coming by. Carolyn brought to the forefront a wonderful metaphor - that of Chanie as a match, and the repercussions of striking both. Jane interpreted the title of the section as an unwillingness to submit to the oppressive system he escaped. Vicki similarly described it as Chanie's determination not to be brought down.
The map, with its place names scattered throughout northern Ontario, is the first text we see (excluding the lyrics to the songs/poems). For Chanie, as seen by our readers, the map is useless and sows the seeds of hopelessness. For those experiencing the moment through the book, the primer reader phrases printed on the board have many meanings - Chanie's education was pointless. We hope he runs. We do "see the boy run". We also read and see the long distances between the places and realize how huge the obstacles are.