The Importance of Language in Pushing the Bear

1201 WordsApr 19, 20115 Pages
The usage of the Cherokee syllabary throughout Diane Glancy’s novel Pushing the Bear is significant because it expresses the importance of maintaining Cherokee cultural ideals as protest towards the United States government. The nine-hundred mile, four month journey that the Southeastern Cherokee tribes were forced to make in the winter of 1838 threatened to wipe out an entire culture. On the journey, approximately four thousand people lost their lives. As this harrowing story is portrayed in the novel, the importance of the language and maintaining the culture of the Cherokee people is the one of the few rays of hope in the harsh winter that gave courage to allow the Cherokees to keep going. The novel is written in medias res. The plot…show more content…
Using their own words, they could make stories like the one Luthy told. The stories that were told on the trail helped keep Knobowtee going when he felt like giving up, “The stories fueled my walk.” (144) For the Cherokee people, being able to talk in their own language allowed them to pass on message of their stories that could otherwise be lost when told in English. The stories are important because they help explain certain cultural ideals of the Cherokee and help teach these ideals to younger children and remind adults not to forget them. Maritole’s Father also knew the importance of the stories, “What if we were hollow like our baskets? Like our stories? Nothing remained empty. There were too many things running around with no where to rest.” (158) He understood that the stories and therefore the words of the stories carried a certain meaning that the people needed to keep alive. The ‘things that were running around with no where to rest’ are the emotions of Cherokee people on the trail. The stories and the words gave them somewhere to put their anger and sorrow. Without this outlet, these emotions would have overcome some of the people and they would not have been able to continue on the walk. Reverend Bushyhead is a character who also understands how much power words have on his people. Throughout the novel, he inspires people with his words to not give up, “Our hope is in words,” he said on page 159.

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