The Themes of Harassment & Mistreatment in “The Secret Path” & “Marigolds”

What symbols are used to highlight these issues? What themes begin to emerge and do they connect ?

In two pieces of writing, namely The Secret Path by Gord Downie and Marigolds by Eugenia Collier, due attention is paid to discussion of the themes of harassment and mistreatment that shape behaviour of many people and that have adverse impact on social interaction. The authors place emphasis on the use of specific symbols to highlight these issues and explain the audience the negative consequences of immoral behaviour and the lack of social support. Besides, these themes are connected because they make the reader to reassess their own values and start developing an adequate social response to the acts of  harassment and mistreatment that occur in their life. Thesis statement: In The Secret Path by Gord Downie and Marigolds by Eugenia Collier, the use of certain symbols allows highlighting the significant issues like shaping interpersonal relations and combating stereotyping and prejudices in human society through prevention of harassment and mistreatment of minorities.

Actually, both pieces of writing are focused on presentation of cases of  harassment and mistreatment of minorities. In Marigolds, Collier tells about a young African-American girl Lizabeth whose behaviour can be assessed as improper and immoral. She and her friends tend to harass an elderly woman while she was taking care of her marigolds. The girl acted aggressively when she made a decision to go to the garden and destroy the old woman’s marigolds. When she came face-to-face with Miss Lottie, the old woman, in her yard, the girl recognized that her childish behaviour should be changed. In The Secret Path,  Downie tells about a twelve year old boy Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack. He died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School, when he was walking the railroad tracks. The Indian boy wanted to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School where he felt unsafe and uncomfortable because of harassment he experienced there.

In addition, in both pieces of writing, the authors are interested in using symbolism to create meaning and strengthen the audience’s emotions. Downie uses the symbol of Secret Path to explain the reader the emotional state of a small Indian boy who experienced harassment in the classroom. In the poem Stranger from the book The Secret Path, he writes,“I am the Stranger/You cant’s see me/I am the Stranger/Do you know what I mean?” (Downie 4). The negative emotions of the Indian boy make him feel frustrated, but he is aware of the so-called “secret path” which can help him to survive. He continues, “On the Secret Path/the one that nobody knows/and I am moving fast/on the path that nobody knows” (Downie 4). In the second piece of writing, the author uses the symbol of Marigolds to deliver the key message to the audience. Collier explains its meaning in the following way, considering the girl’s emotional response: “Whenever the memory of those marigolds flashes across my mind, a strange nostalgia comes with it and remains long after the picture has faded” (Collier 1). She concludes, “that violent, crazy act was the last act of childhood” (Collier 5)

Moreover, in The Secret Path by Downie and Marigolds by Collier, selection of themes depends  on the authors’ personal experience and attitudes toward shaping interpersonal relations and combating stereotyping and prejudices in human society. Both Downie and Collier are aimed at attracting attention of the reader on selection of the individual approaches to the identified problems. Everyone should recognize the needs for altering his/her behaviour to strengthen social bonds. 

Thus, it is necessary to conclude that in The Secret Path by Downie and Marigolds by Collier, special attention is paid to the use of certain symbols (e.g. Secret Path and Marigolds) which help  to highlight the significant social issues like shaping interpersonal relations and combating stereotyping and prejudices in human society through developing the proper strategies to prevent the acts of harassment and mistreatment of minorities.

Works Cited

Collier, Eugenia. Marigolds. Retrieved from:<https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxhdXBwc2VuZ2xpc2g5fGd4OjNlNDYwYTVkMmQ4ZmQwODU>

Downie, Gord. (2016). The Secret Path. Simon & Schuster.

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