The historical short story A Seat in the Garden by Thomas King attempts to portray the cultural clash between Native Americans and non-natives. The story centers around Joe and Red, the main characters. King attempts to explain the similarities between American and Indian cultures and how they affect other cultures. This paper will focus on the symbolic elements in the story. We’ll examine how the characters, images and setting in the text represent something in society.
King uses symbolic elements in his fiction short story a Seat in the Garden. For example, the primary characters of the story are symbolically represented in the text. King employs two ignorant white men named Joe and Red who have a negative view of Indian cultures. Joe is shocked to see the Indian man standing on his farm. He is determined to remove the Indian guy from his premises. King portrays Joe as arrogant and ignorant. The Indian man demands that he leave his property . (King 238). Joe is an American symbol of individualism: Everyone has their own property, and no one else can use it. King portrays America’s arrogance towards other cultures. Joe is so averse to Indians that he can see a man standing in the middle his cornfield farm. Red is no different to Joe. He also hates Indians and hallucinates that a big Indian man is real. They look down on the Indians and believe they are more righteous than others. Red and Joe decide to tell the police officer what they saw. The officer confirms that there are Indians there. Joe calls the Indians old winos (King 1997: 240).
Red and Joe are unable to understand the stereotype that the big Indian man is standing in the middle the cornfield. This is symbolic of two stereotypes. Red and Joe only can see the big Indian man moving his mouth but cannot understand what he is saying. They seek out help from people they don’t like and call them drunks to help them understand the big man’s words: “Maybe, we should ask the Indiansmaybe the could translate for us” (King 1997: 240). They have a stereotyped attitude towards Indians that the characters display and fail to see the real picture when they are near them. The characters don’t want to change their perceptions of others, particularly Indians that they think are drunk and smelly (King 1997: 241). This shows how King portrays the negative perception of the White on Indians. When they reached the Indians, they realized that they weren’t drinking beer as they believed. The Indians were drinking lemonwater, which was a completely different perception than Joe and Red had before.
The Indians represent the disregarded and discriminated members of society. King portrays his Indian characters as being despised by two white men who think that Indians don’t deserve to be on their land. Red and Joe turn to the despised when they need help. They realize that the Indians are more stupid than they think, so they play their part and claim they can see the big Indian man too. In that it shows how desperate the men are towards the big Indian man, the act of turning to Indians for assistance is symbolic. Red and Joe are in desperate situations because they can’t send the big Indian man out of Joe’s cornfield farm. They call the police, but they still haven’t received the help they need. Therefore, they turn to the people they hate the most. Realizing they are both foolish and hallucinating, the Indians take advantage of the fact they can talk to the big Indian man they refer to as a spirit (King 1997: 242). Red and Joe inform Red that the Indian man needed a bench in the middle the garden to sit down.
The white color of men represents purity and righteousness. Joe and Red consider themselves to be righteous and cannot be compared with the drunken and smelly Indians. Red and Joe decide they cannot drive the Indian man out of the garden and call the police for assistance. Red is one of the characters. It symbolizes impurity in the righteousness of white men. Red is a stain on the color white which contradicts the righteousness.
The author concludes this essay about symbolism in Thomas King A seat in the Garden by presenting different situations in the A seat in the Garden that are symbolic. To describe the conflict between Indian and American cultures, the author uses symbolic features. King provided characters, images, and settings to assist in understanding the short fiction.