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Catharine's Unknowing Influence Essay

1980 words - 8 pages

In The Surrounded by D’Arcy McNickle, a young man named Archilde, the son of a Native American woman from the Salish tribe named Catharine and a Spanish immigrant named Max, returns to his father’s ranch during the 1930s. During this time, the White community of the West is attempting to assimilate Native Americans into the White culture. As well as his mother and siblings, Archilde previously attended an Indian school run by Whites aimed to teach Native American children the Catholic ideals. At first, not having intentions too stay to long, Archilde decides to remain at his father’s ranch for a longer period after his relationship with both his parents changes for the better and he is able ...view middle of the document...

Archilde soon realizes that his mother and father don’t live together. Later on, when Max and Archilde‘s relationship grows, Max reveals that the reason why he and Catharine don’t live together is because of a serious dispute that happened a while back. When Archilde was away, the other sons of Max stole cattle from nearby ranches. Max continues and tells Archilde that his sons were eventually caught stealing; as a consequence, they were sent to face trial and that’s when problems between Max and his Catharine began as she spoke against Max. Max recalls, “She even said I gave them the horses and knew where they was hiding. And then I did have a hell of a time. When they got her in the court she wouldn’t talk English, though she had talked to the sheriff all right.” (162). Catharine clearly lied about her sons not stealing the cattle, but she also lied about Max being the one who gave them the cattle. She completely betrayed her own husband when she confesses that “[Max] gave them the horses”, but she did it to protect her sons. Perhaps she knew that even though Max would “have a hell of a time” he wouldn’t face any severe punishment because he was European, but regardless of this she lied to the courts even though as a Catholic person, she is not supposed to lie, especially in a serious matter like this. Also, Catharine didn’t “talk English” during the trial, which shows her rebellion towards White culture. Archilde believed that his mother was a very religious and noble woman, so it comes as a total shock that she lied. However, the fact that she lied to protect her people shows that she’ll choose to defend her Native American family, even if it means breaking her Catholic ideals.
Later on, Archilde decides go out into the mountainside with his mother. They soon encounter Louis, Catharine’s son and Archilde’s brother. Louis is wanted for stealing horses which is why he hides in the mountains. When a game officer walks in on their camp, he sees Louis has killed an animal he wasn’t supposed to so he decides to arrest them all. However, when Louis reaches for his rifle, the officer shots and kills him. What occurs next is shocking to Archilde. “There was no accounting to what happened next. Archilde saw only the final action, not what led up to it…he saw the officer bend at the knees. His face was twisted with pain. The old lady had hit him in the head with a hatchet.” (127). In retaliation for killing her son, Catharine kills the game officer. Archilde is completely shocked because he knows his mother as a very religious woman, so she’s supposed to have good morals, which excludes committing any sins. Yet she just committed the worst sin possible in Catholicism, murder, as she “hit him in the head with a hatchet.” After witnessing the death of her own child, Catharine decides to avenge the death of her son, and she doesn’t hesitate to do because she killed him immediately after Louis is shot. The anger of witnessing her son’s death and not...

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