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Importance of Family in Anishinaabeg Culture Essay

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The theme of Louise Erdrich’s “The Shawl” is that protecting your family is more important than your own life, which communicates Anishinaabeg cultural values. Anishinaabeg culture places a high value on the importance of having family. The story of how significant family is to the Anishinaabeg culture is deep in the hearts of the whole culture. One of the major fundamentals in Anishinaabeg life is unity (More Ojibwe History). Many people see family as a case of unity. Therefore, if the family breaks up then some members in the family may feel upset since the unity is no longer there. Harmony is a key component in the belief that unity is necessary. The sense of harmony and unity allows for an admiration of created things (More Ojibwe…show more content…
While the mother and two girls are leaving, Gego realizes that he is being left behind. This make Gego feel upset because he cares very deeply about his mother and two sisters. Since he does not want them to leave he begins chasing after the wagon. He runs as hard as he can to catch up to try to go with them, but eventually he tries himself out and collapses. However, the wagon just keeps moving forward heading to the other man’s house.
Later the father finds Gego laying in the snow and he carries Gego back to their house so that nothing bad happens to him. Gego keeps talking about gray shadows and the father finally realizes that the gray shadows are wolves and not spirits like he initially thought. The thought of wolves following the wagon worries the father and he follows the trail. He finds the torn up shawl of his nine year old daughter and concludes that she was thrown off the wagon.
Since Gego was neglected by his mother leaving him, he neglects his own children after his wife dies. He becomes an alcoholic and beats his three children. After his oldest son stands up to Gego, Gego decides to quit drinking. After Gego tells his children about the loss of his sister, the children are able to understand why their father drinks all of the time. Gego’s story about his sister shows his children that he drinks to forget this horrible loss that occurred during his childhood. In addition, this shows the children that Gego does not drink because he wants to be
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