Walk well my brother by farley moway
Walk Well, My Brother
At its heart, Walk Well, My Brother, is a story about people. No matter how many books one reads, or studies one conducts, one can never truly understand how the mind of an individual works unless one looks deep into their psyche. Walk Well, My Brother is a story about that very journey, of how two individuals came to know and respect each other in a time of hardship, and how it changed their perspective on life, and added to their own. This paper talks about the very change: Charlie and Konala thought that their lives were all that they could be, but they were both missing a specific essence from within themselves. By the end of the story, however, they manage to find that missing piece in the unlikeliest of places—in each other, that is—thus altering their very emotional structure. The paper will also talk about how Farkley Mowat uses beautiful and apt literary tools to depict the change in heart in Charlie and Konala.
Both characters, Charlie and Konala, are what one would call opposites of each other. Charlie is a jaded, angry, and resentful soldier stranded in the harsh tundra plains. Konala, on the other hand, is part of the Eskimo people—kind, gentle, and loving. What makes the story interesting is how far apart on the behavioural spectrum Mowat has placed this character. In the beginning of the story, Charlie insults Konala to no end: calling her an animal, rebuking her race, and shunning all her efforts to help him. Konala is the very picture of persuasion. Despite being sick, she treats Charlie like she would anyone as a kind human being. The hardship of being stranded in an unknown land together is what brings them together, and makes them respect each other, Charlie, more so than Konala.
The story is aided in this attempt by Mowat’s beautiful use of symbolism and metaphors. At the beginning of the story, it seems that both characters were strangers to their own selves. To describe Charlie’s pride and anger, Mowat says that though he was a masterful flyer, he was a ‘stranger to the land below,’ meaning that he lacked humility and kindness. Konala, on the contrary, was introduced laying on caribou hides, thus seeming to be one with the ground.
Mowat also reflects their inner dispositions on their surroundings after they were stranded in the Tundra plains. The scene is described as ‘bleak’ and ‘godforsaken’. Then, as Charlie begins to change in his treatment of Konala, he feels a ‘momentary twinge of guilt’ as he plans to desert her. His near-death experience itself is ‘sickening’, and Konala’s efforts to save him come to him as divine intervention, and he smiles back at her ‘weakly’. What is also noteworthy is that the same scene is repeated later on in the story, but in reverse. When Konala becomes too weak to go on, it is Charlie who sets up the tent, and makes soup to relieve her of the cold, just as she had done when he was ill.
The biggest metaphor, however, comes with the very boots that Konala presents to Charlie to walk to the camp right before she succumbs to her illness. They symbolize the missing piece of humility that Charlie has been missing from his character. It is only fitting that they be skin boots, as Charlie had despised even the thought of entering the Eskimo’s hut earlier in the story. Konala’s stroking of the boots symbolizes her love for Charlie, not different than a mother’s love for her son, or a sister’s for her brother. It is as if each fine stitch in the boots not only keeps their structure together, but also strengthens Charlie and Konala’s bond, forged in a fire of hardships, prejudice, and eye-opening, fulfilling, but the despairing epiphany.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Mowat, Farley. “Walk Well, My Brother.” Literary Experiences: Volume One 1989: 170-182. Print.