Childhood Abuse In Indian Horse By Richard Wagamese

Good Essays
Oftentimes, survivors of childhood abuse are left with remnants of the incident for years to come. In Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse, Saul Indian Horse attends St. Jerome’s and the abuse in the residential school system transforms him completely. Saul’s experiences with childhood abuse leads to drastic changes in his personality and eventually, he isolates himself as he loses the ability to make human connections.

Saul isn’t always as solitary as he is during his middle age, it all starts with St. Jerome’s. Saul’s “innocence is stripped from you, when your people are denigrated, when the family you came from is denounced and your tribal ways and rituals are pronounced backward, primitive, savage, you come to see yourself as less than human
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However, the abuse doesn’t end with psychological and emotional manifestations, in Saul’s case, it also translates into molestation. Father Leboutillier, a man whom Saul trusts, is the perpetrator and he tells his victim “You are a glory, Saul. (199)” whenever he “snuck into the dormitory and put his head beneath the covers. The words he used in the back of the barn when he slipped my trousers down. That was the phrase that began the groping, the tugging, the pulling and the sucking, and those were the last words he said to me as he left, arranging his priestly clothes (199)”. Therefore, not only is Saul suffering through emotional and psychological abuse, he also is the victim of sexual abuse as well. Due to the trauma, there were significant changes in Saul’s behaviour as seen by his attitude while still at the residential school. Saul describes his interaction with other attendees of St. Jerome’s - or lack thereof, by saying that “they saw me as an outsider. I didn’t mind that. I was sore inside. The …show more content…
After leaving St. Jerome’s and dropping out of the NHL, Saul wants to work outside Manitouwadge, leaving the Kellys behind. Virgil says to Saul “”We’re supposed to be teammates. Wingers. You. Me. Nobody wins alone, Saul.” “I’m used to alone. “You’re used to thinking you’re alone. Big difference.” “I’m not disappearing,” I said. He shook his head sadly. “Seems to me like you already did (178)“”. The abuse presents itself in various ways, it always stays with Saul and he withdraws further. Later on in his life, he completely loses the ability to make human connections. After Ervin Sift attempts to heal Saul, he realizes “how much I actually owed Erv, how much I owed him the truth about me, of where I’d been, what I’d done, the whole shebang. There was a part of me that really wanted to do that. There was a part of me that desperately wanted to close the gap I felt between myself and other people (187)”. However Saul is unsuccessful in doing so, as he is so used to being alone he no longer knows how to build a relationship. Towards the end of his stay with Erv, Saul “knew that I would run and then 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 (188)”. Hence, Saul doesn’t know how to react to Erv’s kindness, instead of opening up to him when it’s

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