Farley winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Award, The Boat

Farley McGill Mowat (1921-2014) Canadian writer, naturalist, conservationist, an environmental advocate was born in Belleville, Ontario. Internationally acclaimed novelist, the author of many books which have been translated into several languages. especially books for young readers, and memoirs and have sold more than seventeen million copies. He often wrote about isolated native populations, such as the Caribou Inuits, or about animal life, especially threatened species. His creation includes Lost in the Barrens, a winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Award, The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float, People of the Deer, The Snow Walker, A Whale for the Killing, The Passion of Dian Fossy and etc.

”Never Cry Wolf” is Mowat’s most widely known book, written in 1963. It is an autobiographical story about the study of Arctic wolves and his solo mission adventures as a biologist in the Keewatin Barren Lands in northern Manitoba. The book is credited with changing the stereotypically negative perception of wolves as vicious killers. Mowat wrote: “We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be the mythological epitome of a savage, ruthless killer.”

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As an actor, Charles Martin Smith played the main role in Never Cry Wolf.  He had been affected by involvement in making that film and decided to adopt another book of Farley Mowat, The Snow Walker, by the man, he once depicted with. He chose “Walk Well, My Brother” the short story. The reason of choosing was the simplicity of the story, putting two different people against the elements of the Northwest Territories. Screenplay contains some elements from “The Blood in their Veins” and other Farley Mowat’s  stories. Later in 2003 Mowat re-released The Snow Walker. An anthology of short stories which included “Walk Well, My Brother” and preface been featured by Smith.

”Walk Well, My Brother” is about of two different cultures that forcibly come together in order to remain alive in the frozen tundra. The short story illustrates how a person can get to know from another person who is entirely different from them and be changed by their arrogance and making him a good person. With a minimum of dialogue, it also tells us the importance of not being prejudicial toward another people, culture and religion and sends out a major message.

The main protagonist is the Charlie Lavery. He works as a Pilot in the Yukon Territory, when this story starts. He served as a Military bomber pilot during the war and counted on his capability of looking after himself no matter what the circumstances. He is relying on technology and lets his pride get in the way of what is the best for him. As the author says, ”he was very much of the new elite that believed that any challenge could be dealt with by good machines in the hands of skilled men”. Charles wasn’t familiar with the Arctic and the people that lived there. He thought that he did not need this wisdom as long as he had his reliability to machines. This ignorance made him feel abhorred with the local people who lived there because he was not acquainted with native’s way of life. When his trustworthy machines were no longer of use, he had no experience to fall back upon and entirely dependent on a first nation woman Konola. Whom he felt deep repugnance for her at first sight. His lack of ability care of himself made him to co-operate and to try to get well this person who was so foreign to him. Charlie behaves toward Konala with constant lack of courtesy to the way she does things over the journey but she just agrees with him.The secondary protagonist is Konala. She is very sick with tuberculosis and sent to a hospital by her husband with Charlie to Yellowknife. As a first nation woman, she shows respect and loyalty him throughout the story. Even with how Charlie is mistreating her. As a native person she has huge experience of how to remain alive in the wilderness and like Charlie, she hasn’t had any dependence on technology. Konala volumes everything Charlie can do but he does not appreciate any of the things that she can do. He would rather eat beans from a can instead of taking a nice cooked meal from her in order to demonstrate to her that he can do things on his own. The conflict finds a solution almost at the end of the story when Konala come to the aid of him worn out in the fields and he gains her as a friend.

Charlie is angry, thinks only of himself, a resentful individual who is self-absorbed. Additional to that racist and sexist towards Konala due to her skin colour, because she is a woman and because of the way she does things differently to survive in the outdoors. After the plane crashes he blames her for every single thing that goes not well. He humiliates Konala by calling her ” a bloody albatross around his neck” and ”eat it yourself you animal” when she offers him a food. Despite he had left her to die she still goes after him throughout the Arctic in order to save him. Charlie gradually starts to show respect this woman and he begins to realize that he was wrong. In story Charlie is asking himself; “Why had Konola not stayed in the relative safety of the aircraft or else travelled north to seek her own people? What had impelled her… to rescue a man of another race who had abandoned her?” It illustrates how Charles still feels discrimination toward her and reason is her race. He cannot imagine how she would follow a man of “another race”. For Konola it is not as important and that is why she feels bounded to save his life. Charlie is very touched by her kindness. She looked after him and treated him back to health even though she herself wasn’t well. This astonished Charles and altered him from a selfish person to a more caring one. It changed his view of the local people and on how he behaved toward others. At the end of the story, Konola becomes too ill and weak to care for herself. He starts to look after her which gave us evidence about his alteration because of their condition and for everything she has done for him.

The turning point of the story I would say happens when they meet the bear almost end of their journey.  This is the first dangerous animal they have faced. Knowing they didn’t work well together earlier, it’s a major test for Charlie to see if he has finally mature enough respect to help Konala out.

The main symbol of the novel is the boots that Konala was using. Knowing she is reaching her end, Konala gives the boots she has been fine walking in over their journey to Charlie and leaves him with the words “Walk Well, My Brother”. They have bonded with one another like brother and sister.