Traumatic Events

Traumatic events tend to leave individuals in extreme state of destruction, fear, and overwhelmingly afraid of death. Most people experiencing trauma often have negative emotions like confusion, pain, betrayal terror loss, helplessness, and entrapment. Due to these emotions, the victims are likely to be at a greater risk of being addicted to drugs or alcohol abuse. Richard Wagamese, in his acclaimed novel, unravels how a series of traumatic events occur to Franklin Starlight who later learns how to fight the experiences. Franklin’s world is revolving around a dead mother that he never met, an estranged alcoholic father who abandoned him, and the old man who raised him. Most people suffering from outcomes of trauma often seek different ways to ease their pain, especially through substance addition as portrayed by Franklin’s father in Richard Wagamese’s Medicine Walk.

Wagamese displays how people can fight the effects of traumatic events in their lives through the experience of the young protagonist Franklin. While most people often try to numb from their traumas through substance use, others like Franklin avoided the rough path after thinking of his father. The traumatic event of losing his mother and the presence of his drunk father made him sad about what was happening in his life. Despite the loss, Franklin had learned how to enveloped by the land as his way of unraveling the complexities of intergenerational injuries caused by trauma in his life.

Alcohol addiction, as a result of traumatic events has been presented in the novel through Eldon, who was Franklin’s drunk father. Eldon’s reason for being addicted to alcohol use is more traumatic, and it affects both himself and those around him. During their journey, Franklin discovered the horrific life of his father: how he becomes an alcoholic and workaholic as he tried to support his mother at a young age, how he also lost his father in World War II, how he killed his best friend because of hurting his mother and how he impregnated his boss’ lover (Wagamese 23). Eldon’s alcohol addiction is connected to the traumatic events in Franklin’s life like the death of her mother, who labored to death on the Kitchen floor while Eldon was out drinking.

Wagamese reveals how people were able to face trauma as a result of displacement and loss due to colonial interference. The impacts of colonization both in the past and present caused fragmented histories, broken relationships, and some characters like Franklin were haunted by ghosts. Despite the traumatic events, Franklin was taught how to form a relationship with the land and also learned everything about his father from Banky, who was his father’s friend. His relationship with the land gave him strength, and he learned how to face his trauma and also forgave his father (38). His main playground of healing was the lone hunting journeys into the backwoods for weeks and days. Franklin’s traumatic events show how the Native Americans were affected by their bloodiness to the point of feeling out of place in their own homes and others fighting over bitter lives during colonization.

Trauma can make people seek different ways for survival and also ways to avoid additions like alcoholism. Franklin survived because of his unspoken knowledge which did not come from books, learning institution or family but came from his ceremony with the land. Unlike Franklin, Eldon lacked a place to put his pain and so, decided to choose alcoholism. With his life filled with empty holes that never got filled, Franklin was able to face all kinds of trauma in his life. Eldon felt that, by leaving Franklin with Bunky, he would be spared from the life of poverty, pain, and struggle that he was enduring (44). But Franklin’s life was still impacted by colonial damages like failing to fit into western education, the damaged relationship with his father and also lack of connection with his ancestry. Franklin learned to live in the most decolonial way, and alcohol addiction, money, and media could not infiltrate his life since he was blanketed by the earth, which kept him strong. Therefore, society can learn from Franklin, and people facing trauma in their lives should seek comfort through better ways and not an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

The early experiences of Eldon through poverty, loss, addiction, and trauma are connected with hundred years of their ancestors’ alienation from their land, displacement, and the attacks on their language, culture and knowledge. Most of the trauma experienced by the indigenous people came as a result of the loss of their land, which makes sense why Eldon to take his son back to the land to rest his trauma and pain. The actions of Eldon to live a life without his son was the most valuable inheritance to Franklin since he learned how to sustain, nourish and provide told for himself on learning how to go on living (49). The trauma in Franklin and Eldon’s life have the exact effects on people in society, and through hopes and aspiration, most people can shun addictions and live better lives.

Trauma and addiction are two connected subjects that people can learn the languages of their pain and pathways to healing. Healing cannot come easily, especially for those who have been dispossessed from their land, lost a close person, or faced abandonment in times of need. Eldon took almost his entire like to get to the land after much suffering. However, in the novel, Franklin teaches his father that individuals can move through fear and go to the medicine at their leap of faith (111). Even after his father’s death, he was able to fight his tormented feelings by saddling into the fields where he finds healing. Therefore, people can also find their healing if they know how to embrace their pain, fear, and sorrows.

Richard Wagamese’s Medicine Walk is a perfect representation of how the effects of trauma can lead to serious addiction as portrayed by Eldon. Eldon experienced a series of traumatic events in his life, which led to his addiction to alcohol. The effects of this addiction led to death of Franklin’s mother, his abandon of Franklin and his terrible life, which later affected his son. However, Franklin was able to fight the trauma in his life by having a relationship with the land, which also made him strong. During people’s lives, there are always instances of trauma which may affect their ways of life, and most people often try to elevate their pain through substance addiction. From Eldon’s experience, the effects of addition are evident, and they can cause terrible outcomes. Therefore, people can find better ways to do away with their pain, especially after they experience any trauma. This will help them heal their soul and regain their strength like how Franklin used to seek his comfort from the land.









Work Cited

Wagamese, Richard. Medicine walk. Milkweed Editions, 2015.


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