Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The True Reins of Power

In the book The Whale Rider there is a predominant question of in whose hands (which gender) does the power really lay. During the first half of the book it seemed evident to me that while the tradition was that the men were supposed to hold the reins of power in reality the women were in control. The second half of the book only helped to support my point. As we see in the end of the book this is extremely important because ultimately without the women the tribe would be no more.
Early on in the second half of the book we see strong examples of the women’s dominance. First we see that Porourangi has had yet another girl child. Also we learn that Kahu, now eight, was top of her class this year, the leader of her culture group, and has learned the Maori language. This is no easy feat, and is very impressive due to the fact that she was never allowed in the lessons by Koro and she is only eight years of age.
While we do witness all of this the speaking of tradition has not disappeared. Koro very clearly tries to tell Nanny Flowers off by saying, “I don’t give a hang about women, you still haven’t got the power.” He even admits his feelings that going to a University is a waste of time for a girl. Also we still hear the talk of how women aren’t supposed to stand up and speak on sacred ground. In a rebuttal to all of this we are reminded that all men are born from women.
In the first half of the book we see that Kahu is a very special child, but we aren’t fully aware of how extraordinary she is until this half. When no single boy in all of Whangara is able to dive to the depths of the ocean to fetch a stone, she is. We also learn that she is definitely able to speak to the whales. We see this when she is able to save the whales, and in turn get the blessing to save the life of her own kind. After all she was Paikea’s descendant, the last spear that was to be let go in the future when it was needed.
Overall the tradition was that the men were supposed to be in control of the power, but it was because of a special little girl that the day was saved. The power being in the hands of the women even held true to the whales. The wife of the ancient bull whale was able to what he wasn’t, that Kahu was not Paikea but his descendant who had a destiny to fulfill. Without her the partnership between land and sea, whales and all humankind may not have remained. The whole entire book she thought she would have been a better person and would have been loved more if she were a boy. Although in the end it didn’t matter her gender because she proved women can hold the power too.

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