The Motif of Being Separated in the Short Story Borders by the Canadian Author Thomas King

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In Thomas King’s short story, “Borders”. the cultural boundaries divide people for the reason that the people must choose a side to be on. In the story you are either Canadian Blackfoot or American Blackfoot, there is no middle. By making the people choose sides they are putting a division between them and the people are not able to unite, even though they are all Blackfoot they are split into opposite sides of the border. The boundaries cause a division for the reason that the border guards split them into groups and there is a division because of laws. Yet the mother still sticks to her beliefs and remains saying that they are only Blackfoot. In the story. a mother and her son are going to meet their daughter and sister, respectively, in Salt Lake City and for this they have to cross the American border. Everything was going fine until the border guard asked the mother for their citizenship to which she replied to and said Blackfoot.

However, this was not the answer that they were looking for they wanted to know what side they came from, Canadian or American, through this they made a division between the people. The border guard stated, “Now, I know that we got Blackfeet on the American side and the Canadians got Blackfeet on their side. Just so we can keep our records straight. what side do you come from?” (Borders) Through this the border guard is dividing the people into two groups and making them choose a side. When they went to cross the Canadian border a similar thing happened, when the mother stated she is Blackfoot as their citizenship. the border guard replied, “I’d be proud of being Blackfoot if I were Blackfoot. But you have to be American or Canadian.” (Borders)

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They could not simply state Blackfoot and be on their way, you had to choose a side no matter what. The border guards were ultimately segregating them into two sides. Also when the border guard says I would be proud of being Blackfoot, she does not specify if she would choose American or Canadian, so why are they not able to just say Blackfoot without choosing a side. In addition to the division by the border guards, there could be division between the Blackfoot by the laws placed on them. The laws on the American side are different from the Canadian side; this would therefore differentiate between Canadian Blackfoot and American Blackfoot. It is a rule that “Everyone who crosses [the] border has to declare their citizenship.” (Borders) The border guards need to know what side the people come from, therefore these people are not able to escape this division that has been placed upon them.

Also the laws that are in place could change the ways an American Blackfoot is compared to a Canadian Blackfoot and vice versa. There is a physical boundary between the two sides which adds to the division between them. The border guard had also stated that declaring their side “helps [them] keep track of the visitors [they] get from the various countries.” (Borders) When a Blackfoot crosses to the other side they are considered a visitor, if the border were not there they all would have been the same and one would not be considered an outsider. In a way they would be considered equal for the reason that one would not feel as if they do not belong and are an outsider. Throughout the story the mother always stated that they were Blackfoot and would not state anything additionally. When the border guard had asked her ”Canadian side or American side? [she had replied with] Blackfoot side.” (Borders)

She did not feel that she had to associate with one side or the other; she was just Blackfoot and nothing else. The mother would not budge from her position in saying that she was Blackfoot for the reason that she was being true to herself and did not want to choose a side. Mel, the manager at the duty free, told the mother and her son “that justice was a damn hard thing to get. but that [they] shouldn’t give up.” (Borders) This is exactly what the mother continued doing and did not say anything else for their citizenship besides Blackfoot. Even though the mother was continually asked to pick a side, she kept her answer as Blackfoot and would not say anything else. In the end she was able to cross the border by just saying Blackfoot.

Ultimately in Thomas King’s short story, “Borders”, the cultural boundaries that have been placed divides the people instead of uniting them. There are also physical boundaries that support the cultural boundaries to cause this division. In the short story they were asked to choose from American Blackfoot or Canadian Blackfoot however, they did not want the segregation therefore they decided not to choose a side and just stick with Blackfoot. The boundaries have caused a division for the reason that the border guards split them into groups and there is a division because of laws. Yet the mother sti|| sticks to her beliefs and continues say that they are only Blackfoot and nothing else.

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The Motif of Being Separated in the Short Story Borders by the Canadian Author Thomas King. (2023, May 19). Retrieved from

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