Ephemeral Identity in Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach

Sonu Purhar


Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach addresses issues related to race, historic
oppression, and the clash between cultures in a coming-of-age ghost story
set in the Haisla community of Kitimaat, British Columbia. Literary
scholars have discussed the difficulty of the novel’s heroine, Lisamarie
Hill, in reconciling her First Nations and West Coast identities,
particularly when she acquires the unique ability to converse with the
spirit world; however, the implications of this ability within both her
inherited and adopted cultures have largely been ignored. In the context
of her Haisla heritage Lisamarie’s powers are shamanistic, imbuing her
with great responsibility and control within her band’s society–yet she
cannot embrace her gift within the contemporary Eurocentric society
that refuses to accept its existence. Though Lisamarie eventually gains
control over her powers, the historic and continued oppression of her
culture by West Coast society challenges her capability to maintain this
connection in the modern world.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18357/illumine101201110725

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