both the body and the spirit need to be eased respectfully in theirreturn to nature. Traditionally, the body would have been carried upinto a tree so that the soul could fly to meet the god, Gitchi Manitou,without obstacle. The god, in turn, collects “the vibrations of livesspent, refueling the world with the power of the once-livedhumans and animals.
” (p.138) Will follows another Native traditionregarding the killing of animals. It is essential to thank the animal forthe sustenance it provides through food and clothing. Death is sometimesnecessary for survival, even when it is self-defense.• The modern irony is that the government issues regulations whichimpede this process. When Will’s mother died, his father wanted toput her into a tree. Instead, they were forced to bury her “in thecemetery by the healing lodge with the rest of the Anishnabe, makingsure her feet pointed east, to the rising sun, and her head pointedwest to where it set.
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” (p.43)• The theme of death is present throughout the novel. As the storyopens, Will is lying at death’s door, but we read that Will has alreadyhad three near death experiences when he crashed his plane threetimes. As we learn in Three Day Road, the number three is connectedto the journey one takes after death. Will’s journey is his recoveryfrom the vicious attack that put him into the coma.
• There is natural violence in nature and there is unnatural violence inhuman interactions. In Three Day Road, the violence was about warand the clash of cultures — the Natives vs. the government. InThrough Black Spruce, the violence is embedded in the modernworld and includes gangs, drugs, drug dealers, prostitution, as wellas in the collision between the old ways and the new.
There are victimseverywhere, including Will, Suzanne, Annie, and the bear.• Will finds the bear tragically murdered and strung up like a person.The loss of the bear is added to the sum of losses that Will hasalready suffered. (see Losses, p.59) He tries to honor the bear by