Stand Up

Have you ever stood up for something you believe in?  A brave and proud woman takes a different path at the … Borders.

Background Check:
Locate the following on a map:

  • Western Canada
  • Western United States
  • Alberta
  • Montana
  • Follow Alberta Highway 4 to the border where it becomes Interstate 15 in Montana.
  • Follow I-15 through the states of Montana, Idaho, and Utah to Salt Lake City
  • Locate other place names: Vancouver, Edmonton, Vermilion, Lethbridge, Coutts, Sweetgrass, Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw, Kicking Horse Pass, Banff, Cardston, Browning, Calgary, Pincher Creek, Chief Mountain.
  • Locate the Blackfoot reservations closest to Coutts.

Refresh your familiarity with the Blackfoot. What details did you already know? What new interesting details(3-5) have you found?

Read the short story “Borders,” by Thomas King.

Respond to the Story

  1. Why is not stating her nationality such an important issue for Laetitia’s mother?
  2. Do you think the mother did the right thing in not telling the border guards what they wanted to hear? Explain fully.
  3. What role does one’s nationality play in forming your identity
  4. “Native literature gives readers new ways of looking at the distinctions between the real and the imaginary, diffusing the tensions of identity checking by looking beyond to wider contexts.” Discuss.
  5. To what extent do you believe the mother and her son suffered discrimination from both the American and Canadian border guards. Use explicit information from the story to support your view.
  6. When asked what he found so “compelling” about borders, Thomas King, in a 1999 interview, replied, “The fact that there is one. The fact that right in the middle of this perfectly contiguous landscape someone has drawn a line and on one side it’s Canadian and therefore very different from the side that is American. Borders are these very artificial and subjective barriers that we throw up around our lives in all sorts of different ways. National borders are just indicative of the kinds of borders we build around ourselves.” He speaks further of the need to keep constructing new borders: “As soon as we get rid of the old ones we construct new ones” (Interview with Jennifer Andrews). Discuss.

Editor’s Desk
In “Borders,” Thomas King uses a variety of sentence structures: simple, compound, complex, and parallel structures. Any story that is full of simple sentences tends to be choppy and sound, um, boring. King uses different sentence types to create variety and keep the reader interested.

Write a post about Thomas King’s sentence structure.

“Her gun was silver.”

“The Canadian border guard was a young woman, and she seemed happy to see us.”

“The border was actually two towns, though neither one was big enough to amount to anything.

“He leaned into the window, looked into the back seat, and looked at my mother and me.”

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