The story opens in 1919 after the war and we are first introduces to an old woman named Nicks, a native American living in Canadian we learn she is a medicine woman and healer. She's one of the last of her clan to live in the bush, having fought off going to the reserves and governments wanting to take the Indian out of the Indian at the time.
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This gives way to two different stories, two different narrators Nicks and Xavier. The novel Is structured Like one of those Russian Matrons dolls, the ones where you open up the doll to find other, smaller dolls inside. Nicks tells Xavier stories of her life, Elijah is obsessively compelled to tell Xavier war stories and poor Xavier is too damaged to speak of his own stories and so relives them in his morphine-addled head. One of the many ironies is that the skills of the two friends used for hunting in the bush become incredibly valuable on the battle field.
The army quickly realizes their skill as trackers and as marksmen and so they are made into snipers quite quickly once they reach the front. Although their killing-abilities are remarkably respected and quite well regarded by the rest of the regiment, they still face racism within the army as a consequence of who they are. The characters feel very much like they eave to prove themselves as they face prejudice. Elijah discovers a lust for killing and is encouraged by some French soldiers to retrieve the scalps of his victims to prove he's killed as many as he claims.
He treats the war as a game wanting to be the one to hold the most kills, while Xavier tries to come to terms with his devastating war-experiences. Elijah In his madness becomes a virtual killing machine, a winding In native terms. The welding Is a two sided thing: legend goes that If a person eats another human being In times of great starvation then he will grow to great heights and have an Insatiable appetite. The notion has a psychological aspect too: moral boundaries are hard to set when In the trenches and some Like Elijah get carried away by It all to a point of no return.
Three day road summary By floral Indian at the time. She hears that her nephew who's been sent off to the war has the war has left him damaged: he's lost a leg and is addicted to morphine, which was death and as she paddles him home, she realizes that in order to help him all she has to offer are the stories of her life
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