Michael Neidhardt 9-13-10
Dr. Ellis Understanding Literature
In the second half of Witi Ihimaera’s The Whale Rider it is continually shown that modernity is taking over and Kahu, being the symbol of this change, is slowly growing to the point where she will have an enormous impact on the story. I believe that the second half of this story proves that modernity is taking over and that all along Koro Apirana was wrong to ignore Kahu. This is important because it clears any doubt in the readers mind that Koro and his belief in traditions were valid. The second half of this story proves that in the argument between modernity and tradition, modernity prevails.
Immediately at the start of the second half of the story an example of modernity taking over is shown. Rawiri gets a letter from Porourangi telling him that another female child has been born. (pg. 75) This is the second female child that has been born in a row so maybe this is a sign that the responsibility is now being passed down from eldest daughter to eldest daughter. Later on Koro is holding a test for his class where he throws a stone deep into the ocean and the boys must try and retrieve it. However, none of them succeed and Koro returns to his bedroom and begins to weep. (pg. 89) Another sign that Kahu is growing to the point where she will one day be recognized by Koro comes when she goes out to the sea and retrieves the stone herself. This really shows that Kahu is a special child and that modernity is replacing tradition.
The final example of modernity taking over comes with the climax of the story. When Kahu swims out to sea and saves the ancient whale it is finally revealed that she is the whale rider. Then Nanny Flowers shows Koro the stone that Kahu had retrieved and he finally realizes how special Kahu is. Koro finally admits to being wrong and realizes that modernity has taken over by saying “I should have known she was the one”. (pg. 145) The second half of this story proved that it was time for traditions to change and modernity to take over as symbolized by Kahu being the whale rider. In conclusion, The Whale Rider proved that tradition could not live on in a modern changing world.