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I heard the owl call my name by Margaret…
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I heard the owl call my name (original 1967; edition 1980)

by Margaret Craven

Series: Owl Calls (1)

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1,933346,704 (3.91)108
A story about how an Anglican priest with a short time to live learns acceptance of death from the Indians.
Member:benzieschools.net
Title:I heard the owl call my name
Authors:Margaret Craven
Info:New York : Dell Pub., 1980.
Collections:Your library
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I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven (1967)

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» See also 108 mentions

English (33)  German (1)  All languages (34)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
An engrossing fable, told in a sparse almost poetic style, of an outsider in a Kwakiutl village in BC. I couldn't help thinking what we would think of a book written by an American after briefly visiting New Zealand's East Coast in the early '60s, about a sensitive and understanding Pākehā priest who moves there and is wins over the local Māori. I have a feeling it would be seen today as HUGELY problematic. I wonder what the Kwakwaka'wakw people of Kingcome think of this book today? That's the review I'd like to read. ( )
  adzebill | Oct 5, 2021 |
A young minister with two years to live learns the meaning of life when sent to an Indian parish in British Columbia.
  BLTSbraille | Sep 9, 2021 |
This short novel, written decades ago, captured me. Ms. Craven evokes the landscape, the rain, and the stark choices facing the First Nations peoples, but her novel about a young priest's journey to a remote village and his efforts to understand and accompany them goes deeper than that. She gets at the challenges facing both the First Nations people and the descendants of the Europeans who tried to displace them. Fortunately, although it is still a struggle, Craven's pessimism now seems misplaced as the different nations work to save their languages, their culture, their independence. ( )
  nmele | Dec 1, 2020 |
Review and 50th anniversary retrospective by Richard J Mammana Jr on livingchurch.org, February 2018
https://livingchurch.org/2018/02/27/an-enduring-anglican-classic/ ( )
  stgcadbay | Oct 6, 2019 |
Mark Brian is the new vicar of an isolated Indian Village in British Columbia. As the story unfolds, the natives learn to trust him, as he is eager not just to serve their church, but to learn about them. He teaches himself their language, listens carefully to their stories and respects their customs. He becomes a part of the community. When the “owl calls his name” the vicar is truly mourned by the natives. Told at a time when the world is encroaching on the lives - for example, making laws they must obey, encouraging their children to leave to go to white schools to have better lives - the story of their quiet dignity and their generous spirit is eloquently told. ( )
  steller0707 | Aug 25, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
In the 1960s, young, terminally ill priest Mark Brian is sent to a remote Kwakiutl parish in British Columbia. Sensitive and respectful, he shares in the peoples' hardships and sorrows and earns their trust. He learns that the Indians are "…not simple, or emotional, they are not primitive." He learns, too, that "there was no one truth [of the Indian]…." The Kwakiutl are consistently referred to as "the Indians." The characters are somewhat romanticized, but this is as true for the whites as for the Kwakiutl.
 
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This book is for the Tsawataineuk Tribe at Kingcome Village, B.C., and for Eric Powell.
First words
The doctor said to the Bishop, 'So you see, my lord, your young ordinand can live no more than three years and doesn't know it.'
Quotations
In the teacher’s house the only other white man in the village did not think of the vicar at all. He didn’t even know he had arrived; he didn’t even know he was coming. This was the teacher’s second year in the village. He did not like the Indians and they did not like him. When he had returned from his summer holiday, a seaplane had deposited him at flood tide under the alders on the far side of the river, and he had stood there in the rain yelling loudly, “Come and get me,” and T. P. had announced, “If he cannot be more polite, let him stay there.” It was old Marta who finally poled across the river and plucked him from the bank. The teacher had come to the village solely for the isolation pay which would permit him a year in Greece studying the civilization he adored.

At star-fall a young buck walked through the village to drink at the river. He was unafraid of guns. The Indian hunted for food, not for fun, and when he found it necessary to kill a deer, he did not shoot him. If possible, he knocked him over the head with a club.

Just before dawn when day and night were locked in their tug-of-war, and day began slowly to push away the dark, Ellie, the little lost one, returned to the house of Sam, her father. Ellie went willingly to the bed of any man who beckoned her, and since, at thirteen years, brutality was all she knew of masculine attention, she liked best the man who mistreated her the most.
Also, the teacher accosted him on the path, asking that he intervene with the authorities that he be given proper supplies. Even the smallest villages were given more pencils and pads. Also, he was expected to pay for the paper tissues which he dropped so generously for the sniffling noses of his pupils. Furthermore, his house had no electricity, and its tiny bathroom was so small that when he sat upon the throne-of-thought he could not shut the door without hitting his knees, which was an outrage.

The young vicar suggested the teacher cut two round holes for his knees to stick through, and offered to trade his outhouse for the teacher’s bathroom, but the teacher was not amused. There was one more thing he felt it his duty to inform the vicar. The vicar might as well know right now that as for himself, he was an atheist; he considered Christianity a calamity. He believed that any man who professed it must be incredibly naїve.

The young vicar grinned and agreed. There were two kinds of naїveté, he said, quoting Schweitzer; one not even aware of the problems, and another which has knocked on all the doors of knowledge and knows man can explain little, and is still willing to follow his convictions into the unknown.

“This takes courage,” he said, and he thanked the teacher and returned to the vicarage.
When Mark walked along the bank to the place where the canoe waited, he knew it was useless. They were ready to go—the old of Keetah’s family, warmly wrapped against the cold, and sitting very straight on the narrow wooden seats. As he approached, Keetah and Mrs. Hudson came slowly through the black sands, stopped, and Mrs. Hudson lifted her proud old face and spoke to him slowly.

“What have you done to us? What has the white man done to our young?” and they waded into the icy water and climbed into the canoe, and because, to keep them here, someone had removed the outboard motor, one of the old men poled into the center of the river where the current took them, the paddles lifting and falling. Not even Keetah looked back.

They were larger than themselves. They belonged to the great and small hegiras of the self-exiles of this earth, clinging fiercely to a way that is almost gone, as the last leaves fall at last gently and with great pride.

“What have you done to us?”

The words lingered in the wind, in the spruce, in the drizzle that had begun to fall, and Mark turned from them in pain and saw old Marta. He said, “Marta, what can I do?” and she said, “You can wait,” and he stumbled past her and up the path and into the church.

That evening he wrote the Bishop and when the answer came two weeks later, he took it to the church, afraid to open it. Had he failed? Was it his fault?

The letter was short: “I think it is time you knew of Tagoona, the Eskimo. Last year one of our white men said to him, ‘We are glad you have been ordained as the first priest of your people. Now you can help us with their problem.’ Tagoona asked, ‘What is a problem?’ and the white man said, ‘Tagoona, if I held you by your heels from a third-story window, you would have a problem.’ Tagoona considered this long and carefully. Then he said, ‘I do not think so. If you saved me, all would be well. If you dropped me, nothing would matter. It is you who would have the problem.’”
Mark led him to the vicarage, put on the coffee pot and prepared sandwiches, and when they had finished lunch at the kitchen table—the rain pattering on the roof—the sergeant took a photograph from his pocket.

“Is this the girl? Look at it carefully.”

Mark did so.


“Yes. There's no doubt about it. This is Keetah’s sister.”

“The man didn’t marry her. When she found out about the mask, she objected, I suppose. He left her in Vancouver, penniless, and he disappeared. I don’t suppose she’d ever seen a paved street, or a train, or a telephone. There was no place for her to go, no work she was trained to do. She drifted to the only place where she was welcome.”

“A beer parlour?”

“Yes. The money men paid her kept her alive. No one knew to what tribe she belonged. Even if she’d had the money to charter a plane, I suppose she would have been ashamed to return to her village. Soon she was taking dope—it’s what is apt to happen—and one night she took too much, deliberately, probably, though we’ll never know. You’re sure of the identification?”

“Yes, I’m sure, but I’d like Jim to see the picture also. He’s not here today.”

“Dead in three months—well, it doesn’t take long. You’ll tell the family?”

“I’ll have Jim tell them.”


Mark went with the sergeant to the river’s edge and watched his boat head downstream to the inlet. He did not know that when he turned back in his own eyes was the depth of sadness which he had begun to understand.
The first week-end Gordon was home from fishing with his uncle, he came to Marta’s house, bringing three boys who had been with him at the Indian school and who wished also to board with a white family and go to school in a white man’s town.

When Gordon was there, Jim did not come or the elders. Gordon was not interested in the past. His mind reached only ahead with that urgent intensity which makes youth seem selfish, and is so necessary to difficult accomplishment.

“Do you think I can do it?” he would ask Keetah. “What do you think?” and she would answer, “I know you can. Of course you can.”
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A story about how an Anglican priest with a short time to live learns acceptance of death from the Indians.

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Book description
A young minister is sent by his bishop deep into the seacoast wilds of British Columbia to a parish of Kwakiutl Indians called Kingcome. The Tsawataineuk live in an inlet village and take their sustenance from the sea and from the forest. The bishop has not told him this, but the priest has only two years left to live.
Among the vanishing Indians, Mark Brian learns enough of the meaning of life not to fear death. Through his faith and humanity, he becomes part of the village, of the Indians themselves, and witness to their rituals and beliefs and the gradual disintegration of a culture.
then, on a cold winter evening, when he hears the owl in the forest call his name, he understands what is going to happen.
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