The Three Day Road is an astonishing, emotional novel by Joseph Boyden. Deposited after the First World War in the Belgium and France combat zones, the novel represents the First World War experiences of young warriors, Elijah, Weesageechak and Xavier Bird. The topic relates to the theme of the novel; resentment comradeship, warfare exposed splendor and the civilization difference of the European settlers and the natives of Canada. Three is also symbolism in the novel: There are reserve lines, support lines, and the front lines. Additionally, there are artillery, cavalry, and infantry. Accordingly, there is rest, food and women, and the fallacy to light three cigarettes using one match. The novel depicts the fear, cowardice, courage of the soldiers destined to the chaotic, bloody and muddy battles of the World War, especially on the Western Front. The author is successful in establishing comprehensive representations of the soldiers and the tremendous environment during the First World War, (Gordon, Neta. 2008). The author undertakes a wideranging exploration into the elaborate particulars of warfare.

                                       Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden is about two Cree soldiers whose identities and perspectives on the world around them are influenced not only by their interaction with EuroCanadians culture but also by their traditional cultural heritages, ( Joseph Boyden 2006) It revolves around the theme of how people’s identities can be molded by the same surrounding in very different ways. The cultural assimilation of native Canadians was to transform native culture to EuroCanadians culture. However, according to Boyden, it crushes the human spirits driving them to insanity and leaving them without identity, all these are shown through narrative perspective.

                                     Elijah and Xavier, the two Cree lads, were always great friends. It wasnt long until they formed a deep friendship, like that between two brothers, at Residential School. “We are great hunters and best friends, yes?... Yes I say”. Later they enlist for World War I, both of them fight as a sniper team. Elijah becomes corrupted by the war caused him to lose his innocence and turning him into an emotionless killing machine. Xavier is naturally quiet and faces racism due to the lack of knowledge in English and also both of them are considered as ‘outsiders’ (Cree aboriginal), (Teichler et al 2014). Also in chapter four, Elijah says, “Now say ‘I’m a Cree Canadian from Moose Factory I have come to kill Germans.’ They’ll like that.” it seems almost immature of Elijah. He seems to think that war is almost a joke or something to not take seriously. It also shows his want to please “them”; as in, the other white soldiers so he fits in and isn’t treated differently or harshly because of his being Cree.   In the beginning, Elijah tried to blend in with the other soldiers when he joined the army. The fact that he was raised in a residential school and had a natural knack for language made him an excellent English speaker. When he was with the other soldiers, Elijah adopted a British accent. Using code, Elijah asks Henry, Dear Henry, will you be a lovely gentleman and prepare me a cup of tea??. Elijah made the conscious decision to avoid using Cree with his peers, (Bohr, Roland 2008). His Cree dialect was replaced with a British one to fit in better with the other soldiers. Elijahs first step in losing his identity was taking this first step. Corporal Thompson selected Elijah for a raid once he became acquainted with the other men. Mills of bombs were thrown into a German trench by Elijah and Xavier during their raid, killing the occupants within. Corporal Thompson asked Elijah if he had liked his last mission when he returned to the Canadian trench. With the comment Its in my blood, Elijah further distanced himself from Xavier. Elijah has defied the teachings of Xavier and Niska, who raised him as a Cree. That decision has transformed him, but in the process, it has made him a different person, ( Joseph Boyden 2006). When Elijah was a child, he was obsessed with combat and his reputation as one of the worlds deadliest marksmen.                                           

                                              Elijah, for example, begins to amass a collection of scalps as trophies to better demonstrate his military prowess. And what are these trophies going to do for me? Elijah Makes a Request. “It will earn you respect from us,” Francis replies. Also, we are men of honor. Elijah is driven by a need to demonstrate his homicidal prowess through the collection of human heads. Is it possible that some acts are so heinous that they cannot be forgiven? Then again, is there always a second chance? There is often a fine line between the two in the context of conflict, (Kádár, Judit Ágnes 2018). Elijah learns to enjoy killing and the attention he receives as a result of his actions. Elijah is driven by the need to make a good impression on his fellow troops, and he will stop at nothing to do so. When the Germans begin to disperse, Elijah decides to aim at a distant target. A group of Canadian soldiers cheers and declares that theyve never seen anything like it. To which Elijah says, Until the next time you find yourself in a scenario like this. His hunger for attention drives him to seek out more and more of it. Is it possible for him to quit killing and get addicted to the glory he is given? Id go berserk in a hospital so far from anything. Elijah never longer feels anything when he kills, (Bohal, Vít 2012).  It is automatic to him. I sliced their necks so rapidly that even I was astonished, he whispers, three of them. Elijahs morphineenhanced senses have helped him refine his killing techniques. For example, when on a raid with Xavier, Elijah takes morphine to help him become more aware of his surroundings. But when the golden liquid is in his veins! Xavier describes Elijah while taking morphine. I feel like Im surrounded by soothing light even at night... He can extricate himself from his body and observe the world below him at will.

                                                    Elijahs hunting prowess is augmented by the morphine, making him even more dangerous. Elijahs fear of the world causes him to take morphine more frequently when he doesnt have it. The world around him distorts as he takes morphine. To Elijah, war becomes a game when there is no fear or agony involved, (Teichler, Hanna 2018).  A pastime he enjoys and develops expertise in. Elijahs morphine addiction causes him to lose his sense of time and place, and as a result, his killing takes on a mechanical quality. A woman is mistaken for an adversary by Elijah while on a sniping operation and Elijah shoots her. Xavier is enraged by Elijahs reaction, which resulted in the womans death. To which Elijah responds, I am trained not to hesitate in dangerous situations is his line of defense. Robotic and soulless, Elijahs response is. Elijah eventually begins to murder Canadian soldiers who stand in his way. Elijahs shadow hung over Xavier throughout the fight. While others only saw the fact that Elijah was an excellent marksman, Xavier saw the madness that was unfolding in his best friend’s life. Elijah’s ego was being fed with the attention and praise he got for being a good sniper, saying “they acted nervously around me after that. My reputation is sealed, I think.” Elijah was collecting the scalps of dead Germans, and this resonated to Xavier as being windigo behavior. Elijah was also becoming increasingly overconfident, thinking that he was invincible, all the while becoming more manic (due to the morphine) and even teasing Xavier by telling him that “it’s human meat. German, to be exact.” Killing Elijah at the end was an incredibly difficult and unthinkable task for Xavier to do. As he’s choking him, Elijah finally admits that “it has gone too far…I have gone too far, haven’t I” to which Xavier replies, “You’ve gone mad, there is no coming back from where you’ve traveled.” Xavier kills Elijah because he believes that there is no more hope for him to return to sanity and that he has essentially become a windigo. While other people may have differing opinions on “mercy killing” it was to Xavier’s belief that he was setting Elijah free from the madness that the war put him in. It is clear to Xavier that Elijah has been ravaged by the conflict, and must be put down. To save himself and his friends, Xavier had to kill his best friend, (Kádár, Judit Ágnes 2018)

                                              In the end, changes can be difficult and affect people in different ways. Elijah was unable to endure the horrors of World War I, and he became corrupted to the point of no return. Almost often, war has a detrimental effect on a persons character. The loss of his identity sparked a downward spiral that culminated in the usage of morphine as a means of escaping reality. However, because Xavier could manage his emotions, he overcame the trauma of war and cultural shift. He became an emotionless murdering machine, which led to his eventual death by his best friend, Elijahs best friend.


Joseph Boyden. 2006. Three day road. Penguin.

Bohal, Vít. 2012. NeoPagan Features in Boydens Three Day Road. (2012).

Bohr, Roland. 2008. Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road. . Manitoba History 59 (2008): 5253.

Gordon, Neta. 2008. Time Structures and the Healing Aesthetic of Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road. . Studies in Canadian Literature/Études en littérature canadienne 33, no. 1 (2008): 118135.

Kádár, Judit Ágnes. 2018. Multicultural identity negotiation in recent Canadian mixedblood narratives: . Boydens Three Day Road. (2018): 133144.

Kádár, Judit Ágnes. 2018. Multicultural identity negotiation in recent Canadian mixedblood narratives: . Boydens Three Day Road. (2018): 133144.

Teichler et al. 2014. Joseph Boyden’s Three day road: Transcultural (post) memory and identity in Canadian World War I fiction. . In The Great War in postmemory literature and film, pp. 239254. De Gruyter, 2014.

Teichler, Hanna. 2018. Impossible Citizens? Memory Citizenship and Transcultural Identity in Joseph Boydens Three Day Road. . In Kairos: A Journal of Critical Symposium, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 3451. 2018.

Related Post

Integrated Professional Skills in Digital Age

In terms of ICT, any digital technology that facilitates the acquisition and use of information by i

Introduction of Primark

Retailer Primark specializes on apparel, accessories, and footwear, and is one of the largest in the

Goals have a clearly established goal for the company

a healthier lifestyle has been developing, including customer goods and services. Governments and NG

Chat With Us +44-20-4520-0757