Storying presence : Aboriginal literature, critical strategies, and Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach

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Plett, Taryn
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"Storying Presence: Aboriginal Literature, Critical Strategies, and Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach" is an examination of some of the many issues that have emerged in current discussions of Native literature and an interpretation of how they relate to Eden Robinson's highly successful Monkey Beach (2000). This project first examines and reviews the current criticism on Monkey Beach and argues that critics have largely evaluated the novel with terms and concepts that emphasize Native identity questions in the text. Moreover, these critics formulate identity questions in language that draws on a dichotomy of civilization and savagery. Gerald Vizenor's theories of deconstruction draw attention away from identity questions and instead shed light on ways in which Robinson builds relationships between her characters, examines human potential for violence, and makes use of humour. Robinson creates a narrative of what Vizenor calls survivance by refusing to imbue her characters with identifiable cultural markers, thus stretching what readers might imagine are the borders of Native cultures. However, Money Beach simultaneously refers to a distinctly Haisla epistemology, and, thus the novel must also be interpreted using an indigenous approach that highlights the relationship between the novels' characters and the land. Although postmodernist and indigenist approaches are in many ways opposed, Robinson uses them in conjunction.