Critical Analysis of “Siwash Rock”

Predominantly didactic Pauline Johnson’s digital stories are structured using a story within a story format. She begins by introducing a Vancouver setting or point of interest using highly descriptive language including personification and similes. The reader soon discovers that the use of personification is particularly important because the origins of the point of interest were human to begin with. In Johnson’s outer story, a question is raised regarding the historical events around a local setting or site. Then a question is posed wherein the answer begins a second story that explains the point of origins from an ancestrally based First Nation narrative.

Johnson’s “Siwash Rock” highlights the importance of a father figure in humanity and the cultural influences that First Nations have on the monuments in Vancouver. In the second narrative, The Tillicum relative introduces a soon-to-be father who prepares himself for his child by “swimming” away his uncleanliness. Johnson illustrates the enigmatic meaning of a “clean fatherhood” through the defiant actions of the soon-to-be father, a father who demonstrates that he should be able to have the courage to fight for his rights and his future children’s rights. The father encounters so called “Gods” that ordered him to cease swimming, but he refused. Here, the most important theme that stood out to me was not only the idea of courage, but also how a child can bring out the bravery in a father. The father actions transformed both him and his family into a natural monument. It is not surprising that Pauline Johnson uses reverence descriptive to pay respect to her fellow ancestors.

Siwash Rock in the 20th century

Works Cited

Johnson, Pauline. Legends of Vancouver. Vancouver, 1911.