Borders By Thomas King: Personal Response On Short Story

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The story Borders by Thomas King is about a mother who struggles to not only cross the border to see her daughter but also maintaining her identity. In my opinion, the author used the text to connect with people, real-world issues and how society reacts to give the story significance. The story deals with real-world issues such as discrimination, people experiencing these issues and even determination and pride.

Discrimination in the story was frequently seen as all the border guards and staff questioned the citizenship of the mother and her son. The happy and light atmosphere of them seeing his sister again is shattered as the border guards deny them passage. In the story, the main character and his mother are travelling to visit his sister in Salt Lake City but are delayed at the border as they are questioned about their citizenship:

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“‘Canadian side or American side?’ asked the guard.

‘Blackfoot side,’ she said.” (King 170)

In this part of the text, the mother is forced to choose a “citizenship” that is recognized by the governments. In the world today, stereotypes like these are seen every day and so often, that they often aren’t even addressed anymore. Why do we assume that citizenships are only from actual countries? Why can’t an ethnicity such as First Nations or Blackfoot be citizenships? Discrimination in the world around us are usually seen towards First Nations and people of colour. In my views, the author used the story to convey a message that applies to the world around us – that discriminatory actions aren’t acceptable whoever and wherever you are.

The people who experience daily issues in the world can relate the characters in the story because of the way the author portrayed them. In the text, the author portrays the mother as a strong and bold individual who not only cares for herself but also for others. When asked about which side of the border she is from, she maintains the identity she sees herself as:

“I knew exactly what my mother was going to say, and I could have told them if they had asked me.

‘Canadian side or American side?’ asked the guard.

‘Blackfoot side,’ she said.” (King 170)

The mother showed perseverance that helped her overcome the conflict because eventually, after staying 2 nights between the borders and countless attempts of passage, they finally crossed the border. The author demonstrated Pathos by creating the character’s emotions in the text relatable to the reader and allowing the reader to become empathetic towards the characters.

There are many words that could describe the characters in the story, determined and passionate being primary ones. The resolution of the story revolved around the character’s passion and determination:

“Pride is a good thing to have, you know. Laetitia had a lot of pride, and so did my mother” (King 172)

Pride is certainly one of the mother’s traits. Her determination, pride, and passion paid off in the end. But I felt that there was a direct relationship between the conflict and the resolution. I believe that the determination and passion of the characters is a result of the discrimination against them, which inspired them. The discrimination against the characters might even cause the reader to act against the issue similar to how characters like Mel did in the story.

Conclusively, the story Borders is a story that challenges our beliefs as a society and how we respond to issues. We must step up and have the courage and assurance to respond, and not allow issues just go unnoticed.

Works Cited

  1. King, Thomas. “Borders” Elements of English 9. Ed. Douglas Hilker and Sue Harper, Harcourt Canada Ltd, 1999, pp. 167-174


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