Monday, January 24, 2011

Whale Rider

In class we discussed how Kahu, althought possesses the traits of the founder, Kahutia Te Rangi, she still acts as the element of revolution. This paradox is further displayed in the second half of the book; and is accompanied by the mystical as well as the realistic. Kahu’s similarity to the founder begins with the picking of the stone on the bottom of the ocean. Traditionally, it is a boy’s role; specifically the future leader’s role. Kahu’s success in obtaining the stone is a direct indication of her role as the future leader of the tribe. By doing so, Kahu continues yet breaks the Maori tradition at the same time. She is certainly not a boy; but her success definitely fits the leadership role. This event is further signified by the repeated phrase, Haumi e, hei e, taiki e, let it be done.

Ihimaera continues this contradiction into the immediate chapter. Normally, up to this point of the book, the mystical portion is related by italicized texts. As we said in class, italicized texts are “not plain, and somehow elevated”. However, for the first time, the tale of the whales, is transformed from italicized to plain, from mystical to reality. It foreshadows Kahu’s coming role of being the one. This theme is highlighted when people said “Talk to the whales. They understand. They understand.” (Ihimaera, 105) People are literately communicating with the whales and into the past. Additionally, Koro analyzes the coming of the whales as “both [real and supernatural]. It is a reminder of the oneness that the world once had” (Ihimaera, 117). What we experience in the present is rooted in the past. The present is tightly knitted with the past and are no longer two separate entities. On another note, the whales from the past are coming to look for the new leader. What they bring with them is the Maori tradition. What they desire to seek is the beginning of a revolution, a female rider. Kahu no doubt embodies both. Kahu, a real person’s interaction with the whales from the past is presented in the form of italicized text. It symbolizes the oneness of time. It symbolizes the oneness of tradition and novelty. It symbolizes that Kahu is just as a leader in the present as she is in the past, or even in the future.

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