Death as intercultural and spiritual encounter in Lee Maracle's Ravensong and Brian Moore's Black Robe
SubjectContact avec les autochtones
What are the intercultural and spiritual implications of death in literature? How do communities portrayed in two specific novels, Brian Moore's Black Robe and Lee Maracle's Ravensong, handle the conflict that comes with death seen from within and from without? The communities represented within these narratives do not share the same spiritual or cultural background, yet all must face the reality of death on a daily basis. Is there some form of mediation to help these conflicting views on death come together within the stories? By looking into specific examples from the novels, derived from observations on the afterlife, rituals enacted by the community, power struggles between community leaders and the alienation and isolation that come with death, it is possible to determine what the differences are between the belief systems. Building from psychological and sociological theories on death as much as on notions of contact and identity, we can determine how the views on death come into play between spiritualities and cultures in the novels. When mediation fails, we see that it is mostly because of a lack of understanding of the Other, either through resistance to or dismissal of the Other's perceived spirituality. When mediation does occur, we can surmise that the people are accepting the Other's point-of-view either to supplement their own or to try to understand the strangeness of the Other. In both instances, shared beliefs or experiences become the key element that allows the dialogue to either occur or be denied. Only when context is shared does there seem to be a possibility of bridging the gap between culture and spirituality, and death, as a shared experience, offers this.