Sterling provides various instances starting from the beginning of the story, which showcases how Seepeetza fights back throughout her stay at the residential school and overcomes the oppressive authoritarian system as well as the racist evils of the school. The primary theme of the novel is racism and how aboriginal children were treated at a time that believed in the superiority of the white race. Humans are all actually kindred spirits who live through the external bodies attributed to them by the Supreme Being. Thus, these spirits are supposed to recognize each other through their hearts and not through their eyes.
However, during those time periods, it was the color of the person that determined how the society perceived him or her, and it is this perception that determined how the individual was to be treated. The saga of Seepeetza, presented in a diary form, with all its little diary entries shows exactly how even children were not exempted from the cruel constructs of the society based upon race, and how they had to lead their lives under scrutiny and ridicule of the authorities in the residential schools.
For instance, the school is just a namesake and a cover for an institution that actually produces well-trained, domesticated girls who can work in the white households, however, Seepeetza and her friends do not let themselves be brainwashed and they practice their native tradition in some way or the other, thus, not succumbing to the oppressive ways of the school authorities. The residential school was a place that harbored ill feelings of the nuns that ran it, and it promoted an atmosphere that cultivated and built upon the common social evil of bullying.
Seepeetza is thrown into the system of colonial education, being taken away and separated from home at the mere age of six, and since her first day of school, she has been constantly harassed under the oppressive regime of the school. In the beginning, Sister Muara enquires for her name, and she replies it to be Seepeetza, which makes the nun “ really mad” as if the little girl had done “ something terrible, ” and she is yelled at to go and ask for her real name (18).
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