The Break by Katherena Vermette is set in Winnipeg’s north end and tells the story of healing, through the different views of a family. My portfolio will contain a thematic essay, a concept map, and a blog post. I will use my showcase portfolio to show how family relations can affect the way a person heals. After analysing The Break I can now understand how a person’s relations can help in support of the healing process after a traumatic event, that people heal better with the aid those who love them.
Understanding Family through the Process of Healing
It is widely believed The Break is about violence and first nations. It can also be believed that it is about the process of healing. It can also be assumed that the novel is about love. It is about all of those things of course. The Break has a theme that seems to incorporate all of those things. The theme that is never explicitly mentioned is that of how your family life affects you greatly as a person. With those you love most and are closest to, they feel will affect how you are growing as a person.
Whenever thinking about the break, one of the first things that happen to come to my mind is family. Although not explicitly stated, the author makes it clear about how important family is to each one of the main characters. As one illustration, Phoenix misses her family and wishes she had more of it. Phoenix often talked about her sisters and mother, how she hated her mother for abandoning her and how she missed spending time and being a kid with her sisters. She then talks about wishing to protect her younger siblings, how she missed them a lot and hoped they were doing fine and being strong on their own. Another example would be Tommy and his wife, mother and language teacher. His wife is the family that had supported him in his investigation unconditionally. And Tommy’s mother was there or most of his life helping him through the toughest points in his childhood, he looked up to her as a role model. Tommy’s language teacher was like a father figure to him, his language teacher is helping him restore the language and culture he wished he grew up with. On the other hand, Emily and her family are so closely connected to one another. And in all honestly, Emily’s family is hard to put into one set perspective as there are so many viewpoints to consider. Unlike Phoenix and Tommy, who had grown up with smaller families. To describe Emily’s family without stereotyping would be of strenuous exertion, taking up far more words than this essay can handle. Which is just a perfect example of how close they are to one another. The sisters and mother of her family, are so close to each other and are very conciliatory about the issues they are faced with. The author makes it clear on the importance of family through the thoughts and attitudes of each main character.
Then, there is the other big topic of healing. Healing seems to be what every character is going through. Emily is healing from her assault. Throughout the book, the author exhibits the effect of Emily healing from her struggles, and demonstrates how that impacted the rest of her family. Another example might be, how Cheryl is still coping with the death of her sister Rain that had happened many years ago. Rain and Cheryl were very close, and the death of Rain opened a hole in her heart. Cheryl and the rest of her family had been healing from the death ever since the night Rain had perished. Another example would be how Lou is healing from the past she had with her previous boyfriend, and the present she has with her current boyfriend. Because of the effect her lovers had on her, she has many trust issues. To clarify, Lou has been learning to lessen her distrust, caused by her lovers. To summarize each character had been dealing with their own personal storms for the duration of the book. It becomes clear that as well as Family, the author wants you to see the process of healing, and who it impacts.
The theme the author wants you to think about is that of how Family is affected by the process of healing, and how the process of healing is affected by family. Not only does the author try to convey that message, but she also tries to make many new readers aware of the violence that takes place in Winnipeg’s North End to the aboriginal people that reside there. The theme and content matter sits with you far after reading the novel and gives me and many others a new perspective.
The people a child grows up around impacts their viewpoint on life.
A common factor with each of the characters lives have to do with their family, and how the family had played a part in the way they are shaped. Tommy grew up with his mother and his racist, abusive father, growing up in those conditions made him be very empathetic, it made him understand a different view of the world, and he a young boy seeing his mother face abuse from her husband for her race modified his viewpoint on men and specifically white males. Phoenix growing up without seeing a lot of her family made her lack emotional connections and support, different from Emily who grew up rich in family. Phoenix was known to occasionally run away from the support groups offered to her, not much different from many of the children living in Winnipeg’s North End today. Emily grew up in a loving home, and although not very rich, she still had her mother, father, siblings and aunts and uncles to raise her. She is very loved and very in turn very caring.
Winnipeg’s north end is known to be deep in poverty, racism, and crime. Many in Winnipeg do not venture into the North End. Many are largely unaware of life in the North End, and what it is truly like (I don’t truly know what life is like for those living in the north end, and I never will unless I live there myself). Many of those who occupy the North End are the aboriginal youth. Aboriginals are poor and reviled within the area. The Break depicts what life in the north end is like for many families, in different perspectives, and how those perspectives connect. In the case of Emily and her family, life is difficult facing racism, and poverty, however, her and her family seem to deal with it all fairly easy. But, in Phoenix’s case, deep poverty and crime, and hate. Phoenix is living basically homeless, after just escaping the youth centre, she does get into trouble, with drugs, without education, lacking a fair childhood, growing up in a foster home without ever seeing much of her family. Tommy and his wife do not live in the North End area, his job as a police officer does require him to patrol the area quite often, and looking into Emily’s case of sexual assault he spends a great deal of his time there, making him aware of the problems faced there. His wife, however, is much like the rest of Winnipeg she is ignorant of what life there is in the North part of Winnipeg.
All these perspectives on the life in the north end are connected in one way or another. Tommy’s view is his observations on Phoenix’s and Emily’s life. Emily’s own perspective and attitude toward her life are lively and hopeful, yet melancholic, so bittersweet. Phoenix view is hateful and sorrowful, her attitude is hopeless towards the future. The families, the people each character had grown up with shaped the perspective they all had on life and the person they grew up to be. the support each person got from the people around them affects them greatly.
Katherena Vermette‘s novel The Break is about how a young 13-year-old Metis girl, Emily, is sexually assaulted at a party one night. The story makes a journey into the thoughts and feelings of each individual connected to Emily. Katherena Vermette tells a story through the eyes of everyone who is directly or indirectly linked to Emily, to uncover the truth about what happened that night.
I chose to study this story, because of the many connections one could make to each character. Everyone in the story also has some problems of their own and it shows the regular lives of a lot of aboriginals, specifically the Metis peoples living in the west.
The story takes place in Winnipeg’s North End. Tommy, a Metis police officer feels caught between two different worlds, as he uncovers the secrets of the case. Stella has separated herself from the rest of her family. Lou is afraid of losing everyone she loves. Cheryl mourns for her sister, rain, and Phoenix is a homeless teenager who broke out of a holding facility. The story deeply tells of the lives of first nations and the storms they struggle with.
A Multigenre paper on John Greens Looking for Alaska
By Ella Williams
Table of Contents
Young Culver Creek school student dies in tragic car accident
What Is The Great Perhaps?
Discover Culver Creek
Best Day. Worst Day
Subverting the Patriarchal Paradigm
Explanation of sources
Monday, June 5
“I go to seek a great perhaps” Those are the famous last words of Francois Rabelais a poet. Miles (Pudge) Halter a young boy who lives a noneventful life spends his time reading biographies and is obsessed with famous last words. Miles wants to find his “great perhaps” and not end up like those he reads about in biographies. Miles leaves his home in Florida to the mysterious world of Culver Creek boarding school in Alabama to find his great perhaps. At Culver Creek, he meets his friends, The smart and witty Colonel, a boy named Takumi, a Young Romanian girl Lara, and the smart, funny, sweet, screwed up Alaska Young down the hall. Alaska pulls Pudge into her world and launches him into his great perhaps.
I had a lot of fun writing this paper. I think If I really wanted to I could make my own multi-genre paper for fun. But even so, I think it was challenging. The most challenging part of writing the paper was actually putting it together. I found it difficult to take a step back and look at how well one piece fits with the other genres or seeing it another way and having to make a few changes to fit the whole paper. I think putting the paper together was almost like putting together a puzzle, you need to first put down the more important puzzle pieces first before putting the harder challenging pieces in the middle. Finding the theme of this story I found was also quite difficult, when you read a story you only see what’s on the surface, you never really see what the writing is made up of and you really need to look and analyse. My favourite part of the whole paper itself was also the hardest and least favourite; I say this because as much as I found it difficult, time consuming and boring, I really enjoyed seeing the end result and was proud of what I have achieved. If I could change anything about it, it might be how much time and thought I had put into writing it. I think I didn’t write how I really felt about it and paid too much attention to whether I thought it looked wrong or If I was doing it right. I should have just wrote what came naturally to me and then worried about if I liked it afterward.
I hope that you the reader will one day find your great perhaps. When you do find it will be one of the most memorable and significant times in your life. Your great perhaps will be the moment your life will change forever whether it be when someone new comes into your life or you find your dream job, or whatever. It will be special and can come at any time. Don’t always look at the past and regret the things you did or didn’t do, experience life in the moment you live in, look to the future, enjoy the little things. I hope that you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing.
Young Culver Creek school student dies in tragic car accident
By Ella Williams
ALABAMA – 17-year-old Alaska Young has died yesterday Tuesday night. The Accident happened around 3:40 when she drove straight into an oncoming police cruiser. The crash happened to be on Interstate 65 south of the Culver Creek campus she attended.
Young was drunk when the collision happened. Police investigators believe that she tried making it in between the truck and cruiser ignoring the lights and sirens. Once she was tested for alcohol, it was discovered that her BAL (Blood alcohol level) was point twenty-four enough for her lose focus and become dizzy but not enough to swerve out of the way. The police officer who was involved in the collision said, “She didn’t tarn. She didn’t brake. She jest hit it. There weren’t no gettin’ her outta that car alive. It fairly well crushed her chest, see” (162).
The officer also mentioned a bouquet of tulips in the car with her that night. “They was flowers in the backseat. Like, from a florist. Tulips” (163). Many of her close friends speculate that it was not an accident, but suicide. Her friends say she often made jokes about suicide, A good friend of Alaska, Chip Martens, said that “it is a probability that she could have maybe wanted to die with the flowers” … she told me that her parents always put white flowers in her hair when she was little. Maybe she wanted to die with white flowers”.
They had also mentioned that Young was a pretty steady drinker “She had lost, although not recently, her mother. And her drinking, always pretty steady, had definitely increased in the last month of her life,” explained Miles Halter a close friend of Alaska young. Halter said that he had not drunk since the incident “Actually, I hadn’t drunk since that night, and didn’t feel particularly inclined to ever take it up ever again.”
Her close friends had also mentioned the possibility of her missing the anniversary of her mother’s death. That she could have felt guilty about missing the anniversary and panicked about her forgetting it. Even so, accident or not the tragic death of Alaska Young has left a strong impact on her father, Friends and the community of Culver Creek.
What is the Great Perhaps?
Many people believe Miles didn’t find his great perhaps yet. But they don’t realise that Miles whole story was about how he found it. Actually, Miles has been experiencing the great perhaps throughout his time at Culver Creek. The Great Perhaps is a perhaps, meaning it’s a moment that is not predestined and is an event in your life that changes you forever; the great perhaps not something you plan to happen or expect to happen, it’s just “perhaps”. In fact, Miles in Looking for Alaska is seeking the great perhaps, by developing friendships and learning new things about himself.
First of all, Miles is growing relationships with new people. That is, when Miles was living and going to school in Florida he had no friends. For example, For his going away party before he left for Culver Creek, only the two theatre kids he sat with at lunch had come. At, Culver Creek his roommate Chip instantly took a liking to him, gave him his own personal and ironic nickname Pudge, and introduced him to all of his friends and he was soon recognised all around campus. Therefore, When Miles was in Florida he wasn’t very popular and didn’t have any friends while at Culver Creek he met a lot of new people and made really good, close friends.
Secondly, Miles starts to discover new things about himself that he didn’t know before. In other words, when he lived in Florida all he really did was attend school and read biographies. For instance, He wanted to go to Culver Creek because he wanted to find his great perhaps. He knew he was living a quiet life and was looking for excitement. He never knew that he would pull one of the greatest pranks in the history of the school. He also never thought he would fall in love with the girl down the hall. So, when Miles moved from Florida to Alabama he got to experience new feelings and made memories he wouldn’t have experienced in Florida.
Therefore, Miles uncovers things about himself that he wouldn’t have known before and meets new people. So, Miles has been able to find the great perhaps. It is important to remember what his life was like before he got to Culver Creek to realise what miles great perhaps was. The way Miles experienced his great perhaps is very different than how other people will experience theirs. It is no wonder that so many had thought he didn’t experience it yet, It’s because everyone experiences the great perhaps differently.
The day he lost his virginity. Takumi Would have to be very drunk to tell his story.
Her best day was when she went to the zoo on a class trip with her mother. She liked the bears and her mom liked the monkeys
His best day was that day, Saturday, January 8, he woke up next to a pretty Romanian girl named Lara Buterskaya on a beautiful cold but not too cold day, drank lukewarm instant coffee and ate cheerios with no cereal. Later Pudge skipped rocks by the creek with Takumi and Alaska. The sun was shining a bright soft glow that made him feel like nothing could ruin the moment.
the best day of her life was the day she came to America. When Lara got to America she was the only one in her family that could speak English. Lara’s parents started treating her like a grown up and felt really important when her parents relied on her to translate things
The Colonels best day has not happened yet. The best day of his life happens when he buys a nice big picketed fence home for his mom. Colonel goes into detail about how it will be in Mountain Brook, the neighborhood where the rich people live and that he’s going to pay it all in cash.
Top 5 Worst Days
When Pudge was in the 7th grade a boy named Tommy Hewitt peed in his gym clothes. On purpose! And his gym teacher forced him to wear them or fail! The boy who had peed in them bragged about what he did after and humiliated Pudge in front of his grade 4 class
The Colonels worst day as the day his dad left him and his mother. Even though Colonel had always somewhat expected it because of his fathers’ old age
Lara’s worst day was the same day as her best. When she got to America and her parents stopped treating her like a child she lost that part of her. She left everything she had in Romania and had to start a new.
The day Takumi was supposed to visit his grandparents in Japan his grandmother had unexpectedly died in a car accident. Instead of going over to Japan for a summer visit he went over for her funeral. It was the only time he saw her that year.
The very day after her mother took her to the zoo, Alaska found her mother dead on the floor in her kitchen. Alaska’s mom had told her to finish up her homework so she can watch television later but heard a loud thump. Alaska rushed over to the kitchen and found her mom laying on the floor jerking her head. Alaska being only 10 didn’t know what to do sat with her until she stopped. At this point, Alaska thought her mom was okay, that she was better now and sat with her until her dad arrived home. When Alaska’s father got home he yelled at her and blamed her for the death of her mother. It was too late to call 911. She had died of a brain aneurysm.
Subverting the Patriarchal Paradigm
The Colonel gives their hired male stripper an interview before the biggest Alaska memorial prank happens
M: Hi, I’m Maxx
C: I am a nameless and faceless representative of the junior class
*They shake hands*
M: I took this job because I think it was Hilarious, What exactly am I gonna do?
C: A memorial prank for our friend Alaska Young, She is the mastermind behind all of this
M: Ah, I see, I wish I would’ve thought of this when I was in high school Haha
C: Right, Here is the speech look over it quickly *hands him the speech*
C: any questions?
M: given the nature of the event I think Y’all should really pay me in advance
C: *gives Maxx a paper bag with $320* Here you go
C: now Maxx Pudge is going to sit down there with you because in the speech you are friends with his dad. If you happen to be interrogated after, we hope you can find it in your heart to say the whole junior class called and hired you
M: sounds good to me, would want Pudge here to get in any sort of trouble *he laughs*
C: you’re on in about 5 minutes, good luck
What is the Great Perhaps? The Great Perhaps is a Perhaps, there is no clear answer, it is the great truth of life and death. When Miles (Pudge) Halter moved from his safe home in Florida to the Culver Creek boarding school in Alabama he met the beautiful Alaska Young who threw him into the Great Perhaps
Explanation of sources
In the novel, Alaska dies in a car accident, and there were only 2 witnesses, the truck driver and the police. I thought a news article would be a perfect fit for this event because it was a way to clearly communicate how she had died.
Many peopled had argued about what the Great Perhaps was. So, I decided to write about what I had thought what it meant. I’m still not entirely sure what it was since when I read the novel, but I know how miles experienced it. I wanted to write about it to maybe help me understand what it was and it did.
Promotional School Poster
This Genre was important. It was to communicate to the readers
Top 10 List
Two days before Alaskas death, the five friends played a game called Best day, Worst day. They all shared their best day and their worst day. The person with the best day didn’t need to drink while everyone took a shot of vodka, same thing with the worst day. This event was very important because the friends finally got to open up to each other and understand each other better. I chose to do a top 10 list for this event in the story because like the game there was a “winner” and a loser so I decided to rank them. For the best day, I thought Alaska had the best day after she told her worst because I understood why it was her best day: It was the last she got to have fun with her mom. But it felt unfair to do so since how vague it was told and that it was ranked by the best story told. I hope the reader got to understand the characters better the way it did for me.
In the novel, the Colonel, Pudge, Takumi, and Lara planned out a memorial prank for Alaska. The Colonel and Alaska had been partners in crime since freshman year, They planned out the biggest prank for senior year. So, they thought it made sense to do it for a memorial. Kind of like “Alaska’s still with us even without really being here”, they wanted the school to remember her even after they leave. The prank was titled “Subverting the Patriarchal Paradigm”. Subverting the patriarchal was called that because. The whole junior class (Including the “Weekday Warriors”, or “rich kids who do what they want without getting into trouble”) all hired a male stripper for the prank and recommended him for “Speaker Day” (a day where a someone successful would come in and talk), of course the eagle did not hire a stripper but a doctor as a stripper in disguise. This genre was actually quite difficult because it started off as a job interview but at the same time was a casual conversation. I think I had the most fun with this genre and hope you, the reader, enjoyed it too.