The Rez Sisters Essay Research Paper The

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The Rez Sisters Essay, Research Paper The Rez Sisters The play The Rez Sisters is written by one of Canada s most celebrated playwrights, Tomson Highway. Highway was born in 1951 in northwestern Manitoba. He went on to study at the University of Manitoba and graduated from the University of Western Ontario, with honors in Music and English. Native Literature is inspired by contemporary social problems facing native Canadians today; alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, wife battering, family violence, the racism of the justice system, loneliness, rejection, youth awareness, as well as modern-day environmental issues. (P. 172 Native Literature in Canada.) Highway once said, We grew up with myths. They re the core of our identity as people. (P. 172 Native Literature in Canada.) I am

going to focus on the image and identity of Native people as seen through the play The Rez Sisters. Identity is how you view yourself and your life. (p. 12 Knots in a String.) Your identity helps you determine where you think you fit in, in your life. It is a rich complexity of images, ideas and associations. (p. 12 Knots in a String.) It is given that as we go through our lives and encounter different experiences our identity of yourselves and where we belong may change. As this happens we may gain or relinquish new values and from this identity and image our influenced. A bad self-image and low self-esteem may form part of identity but often the cause is not a loss of identity itself so much as a loss of belonging. Social psychologists suggest that identity is closely related

to our culture. Native people today have been faced with this challenge against their identity as they are increasingly faced with a non-native society. I will prove that the play The Rez Sisters showed this loss of identity and loss of belonging. When a native person leaves the reservation to go and start a new life in a city they are forced to adapt to a lifestyle they are not accustomed to. They do not feel as though they fit in or belong to any particular culture. They are faced with extreme racism and stereotypes from other people in the nonreservational society. The Rez Sisters won the Dora Mavor Moore award for the best play in 1986-87 and later went on to earn extravagant praise at the Edinburgh Festival. (P. 172 Native Literature in Canada.) The play is full of comedy,

tragedy, life and dreams. It is a fast moving play informed by insight into, and deep knowledge of, reserve life, and it is both exhilarating and exhausting. (P. 174 Native Literature in Canada.) The play involves seven very lively and funny women, who live on the Wasaychigan Hill Indian Reserve, Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Their lives consist of knowing everybody s business. Nothing is private or sacred to them, they know each other s sex habits, health problems, family histories and daily routines. (P. 174 Native Literature in Canada.) When they play begins we are given an over view of what it like on the reserve by a pictorous description, from here I can see half of Manitoulin Island I can see the chimneys, the tops of apple trees, the garbage heap behind Big Joey s dumpy

little house (P. 2 The Rez Sisters) The reserve has a bit of everything, a good side and a bad side. During the play we learn that the Rez Sisters make life bearable on the reserve by playing bingo. From this we learn about their lives and dreams. We learn what they want individually in life, and where they would go and what they would do if they had the opportunity. The play gives the reader in sight to what each of the woman want. Marie-Adele is a 39-year-old woman who says if she had the money she would, Buy an island. (P. 36 The Rez Sisters) I fell she wants this because she wants to escape from everybody, the reserve and from the regular population. Veronique is the mother of one of the other characters in the play, Zahaboonigan, who is mentally disabled. Veronique wants to