“How do we forgive our fathers?”: Forgiveness and Healing in ‘Smoke Signals’ | Bitch Flicks
It helps to think of Thomas as being written from Victor's point of view. . As captured in the closing poem, forgiveness is the heart of Smoke Signals. With the film's intertwining of personal relationships and the Indian condition, I take away. By the second page, the reader is introduced to Thomas Builds-The-Fire. Like his father, Victor also has a strained relationship with Thomas. Forgiveness and Healing in 'Smoke Signals' realities, especially the relationship between Native American fathers and sons. When Victor finds out early in the film that his father, Arnold, has died, he and his childhood . Thomas recites Dick Lourie's poem, “Forgiving Our Fathers,” at the end of the film.
Me and Victor—we were children born of flame and ash. What images of fire and ash appear in this film? What does this exchange reveal to us about Victor and Thomas?
How does this poem work as a conclusion to the film? How do we forgive our fathers? Maybe in a dream. Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us too often or forever? Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage, or making us nervous because there never seemed to be any rage there at all?
Smoke Signals » Pierced to the Heart
Do we forgive our fathers for marrying or not marrying our mothers? For divorcing or not divorcing our mothers? And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness? Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning? For speaking through walls, or never speaking, or never being silent? Do we forgive our fathers in our age or in theirs?
Or in their deaths? Saying it to them or not saying it? If we forgive our fathers, what is left? For the full text see Ghost Radio by Dick Lourie. Our images of ourselves and of other people come not only from our experiences of ourselves and of other people, but also from movies, television, books, and other media. How have Native Americans typically been represented in American popular culture, especially movies?
How does Smoke Signals conform to or break with these images? This film repeatedly uses humor to comment on stereotypes about Indians. This is the passing down of Native history through oral stories. Although he plays this role, no one on the reservation will hear him.
The stories Builds-The-Fire tells represents Native culture, however in this case it also provides healing. Thomas Builds-The-Fire reveals stories that provide clarity, incite, and understanding which lead Victor and the reader on a journey to renewed relationships and self-identity.
Thomas Builds-the-Fire is there to aide Victor during his time of need. The two men are drawn to each other.
Native American Film Gems: Smoke Signals
However, as observed through backstory, Victor is struggling for self-identity and loss which directly influence his feelings and behavior towards Builds-The-Fire. This struggle causes a turning point in his relationships making broken connections into healed ones. He does not want to go on this journey with Thomas Builds-The-Fire because of what others may think.
Like the readers first impression of Builds-The-Fire, Victors views him as lucid and full of old tales. Though Victor did not recognize it before, Thomas Builds-The-Fire becomes a major role throughout their journey. Little be known to Victor, deciding to accept assistance from Thomas is going to help build the lost connection between not only he and his father, but his lost relationship with Thomas Builds-The-Fire as well.
During the travel, Builds-The-Fire explores a series of different memories and flashbacks. This format relates back to the Native American culture of oration. These memories serve to better explain the relationship and the history between the once close friends.
The stories told describe the earlier times when they were close friends, happy and content. In this way, Builds-The-Fire is able to renew Victors relationship with his father by telling his stories. In the midst of remembering who he once was, Victor is understanding his own conflict with his self-identity and his role in the community. Through backstory, or rather storytelling, Victor finds his identity through Native American traditions.
On their return trip the men notice the emptiness of their surroundings. There is an eerie absence of life down the silent road in Nevada. The two finally spot a jackrabbit, the only life found in the desolate place. Builds-The-Fire accidently kills it. The two men stop at the side of the road and observe it, taking time to reflect on its life. The moment reshaped their relationship and created unity between the two men.
They both felt sympathy and remorse towards killing the only living thing observed on their journey. Although unintentional, it provides an example of the impact of their journey. This is an experience that will provide the storyteller a new story to tell all the while the revelation helps Victor better understand his role in society. This simple act of kindness further extends their ongoing story.
Victor and Builds-The-Fire agree to a renewed friendship through simple acts of kindness observed both in the community and self-identity. This handing over of the ashes provides literal and figurative symbolism of their bond, reassuring them both to remain connected as friends.
- Smoke signals