Indian Horse Novel Analysis: The Role of Alcohol in Saul's Survival
Alcohol is a drink which causes a person to lose his consciousness. Reading the novel Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese narrates how Saul resorts to alcohol in order to escape the reality he has been living in. Now the question arises what causes Saul to turn towards alcohol? After thorough research, there are several reasons that leads a person resort to alcohol. Saul went towards drinking because he wanted to isolate himself. Like many alcoholics, Saul uses drinking as an escape from his sadness. The negative influences surrounding Saul eventually affects him to become an alcoholic as well. Richard Wagamese shows alcohol is important for survival.
Alcohol is helpful when needed. Saul uses alcohol to isolate himself. After his time on Ervin’s farm, Saul begins to drink more than usual. He understands that alcohol is killing him, even though he feels as if he needs it to survive. “At first it was only few sips while I worked. Then it became longer periods of walking out alone and coming back when I knew Erv was asleep” ( Wagamese 186). Saul wanted to stay alone because he did not want to discuss himself or let anyone know who he was and what he was going through so decided to keep his pain and rage to himself. But somewhere, “There was part of me who desperately wanted to close the gap I felt between myself and people, but there was a part of me that really could never understand. It was part of me that shimmered with rage. I was truly alone.” (Wagamese 187) Saul was suppressing his emotions and was unable to discuss his problems so his solution to problems was to use alcohol to isolate himself.
Saul uses drinking as an escape from his sadness. Saul exclaims,’I only knew that I would run and run and that I would always continue running because I’d learned by then that it was far easier to leave if you never truly arrived in the first place’ (Wagamese 188). Saul ran away from those who cared about him and places that could be his home. He ran away from his problems and “found an antidote to exile.” (Wagamese 180), the antidote being alcohol. Similarly a native narrates his story of how he went through the phase of suffering from drinking alcohol.
He states, “My father was a chronic alcoholic. His parents had seven children and five died of alcoholism, including my father. My mom drank also and I started drinking at the age of eight. I was in and out of group homes and foster care and by the age of fifteen. I was ordered to attend AA” (“Addictive Behaviours among Aboriginal People in Canada”). Saul was an adult when he suffered from heavy drinking but the native who shared his part of the story was very young when he came under the influence of his family members.
The negative influences surrounding Saul eventually affects him to become an alcoholic. He was affected by recalling the sexual abuse he went through and those filthy words said by Father Leboutilier, “You are a glory, Saul” (Wagamese 202). This made him felt hate, acrid and hot. Saul suffers from bullying everywhere he went when he was in the hockey team. This made Saul anxious and angered him, so he played the game according to his rules which eventually led him towards the penalty box and finally he left the team. Due to bullying and anger issues, the problem led Saul towards drinking. “I began to drink myself. In alcohol I found an antidote to exile.” (Wagamese 180)
Moreover, Saul left the team and was searching for work. He was able to find work but was mostly a high-functioning drunk who would pass through the day but then sink into the drink alone when the day was over. Saul was depressed and tried to cope through drinking in large amounts of alcohol. His life seemed like it was getting darker and depressing for Saul. ‘It was a dim world.’ (Wagamese 181) ‘Bleakness and me were old companions by then, and the only thing I know how to do was to drink.’ (Wagamese 186); hence, he found alcohol the only solution to his problem.
Alcohol is important for survival. This is evident by Saul using alcohol to isolate himself in order to avoid inflicting harm on others, and to get out of depression. Finally, alcohol helps Saul to fight through the negative influences surrounding him.
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