Monday, January 24, 2011

Koro the Arrogant Teacher

What is so remarkable about the second half of The Whale Rider is the fact that it was the village elder, Koro who was the most arrogant and furthest from knowing about his past than the rest of the Maori Tribe. It was his final realization at the end of the book that caused a sense of tranquility that allowed the tribe to progress and further their culture. Koro’s ill-temper and negativity towards the ability of women in the tribe caused the civilization to suffer. The death of the large amount of whales as well as Kahu being the true “chosen one” shows that it was Koro’s opinions were what caused such tragedy throughout the story.

Finally coming back home, Rawiri discovers that everything around him is exactly the same except Nanny Flowers’ dress size. Interpreting his trip as an escape from the one-sidedness life in Whangara, Rawiri demonstrates the tension that the story foretold as Koro pushed away Kahu in her efforts for affection. Being the village elder it is hard to believe that a society can progress if the teacher of the Maori culture group disbelieves the strength of a future leader because of her gender. Claiming, “Its not Paka’s fault, Nanny,” “That I’m a girl” laid down the foundation for need of a higher power that could disprove that only men were chosen to carry out the traditions of the tribe.

Near-sided to her wisdom and potential, Koro went from being thought to be the most enlightened to being one of the last people to learn the true signs of knowledge from the Maori people. Stating, “Not a word, Rawiri. Not a word about the stone or our Kahu,” Nanny Flowers knew that it was Koro’s knowledge of Kahu’s gift that would allow the tribe once again live in a culturally enhanced environment that will be able to progress for ages to come. Finally claiming that he wasn’t properly educated and that there was many things still at his age he hasn’t learned, hope for Koro to see that anyone man or woman could be an elder was introduced.

Before Kahu took matters into her own hands, it was Koro who stated,” If we are not able to return it, then this is because we have become weak.” It is Koro’s failure to realize the oneness that the tribe lacked that caused and symbolized the whale returning back to land. Koro running after the enlightened Kahu finally opened his eyes to the truths of the Maori that he did not understand. If he had realized this in the beginning and had not been so closed minded then maybe the punishments foretold in the story wouldn’t have been so great.

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