A seat in the Garden
I’m not the Indian you had in mind; a video that was written and directed by Thomas King challenges the stereotypical image that America has towards Native Americans. King is also the author of a short novel “A seat in the Garden”. This short story also challenges the established perspective that American society has towards the Native Americans. There are various stereotypes and perspectives that a majority of the public has toward a particular group.
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For example some of the common stereo types that are seen throughout the media are that all Asians are good at math, women are armorial sex objects, All Africans like fried chicken, and all Mexicans are gangsters. These stereo types are not completely true for an entire group, yet they can be for a part of it. There is living and walking proof of many of the minority groups subverting the dominant view. “A Seat in the Garden” opens up with a man named Joe working on his garden, and suddenly he notices a big Indian standing in his garden. Joe becomes furious and demands the Indian to leave.
As soon as this story opens up we can already see that there is negative tension that Joe has towards Native Americans. When he emends the harmless Indian to leave and the Indian Just sits there, for he shouts “Get the hell out of the corn, will hay… This is private property. You people ever hear of private property’ (King). Once Joe decides to start pointing fingers at the Indian and assumes that he and his “people” lack the knowledge of what private property is; he begins to label Indians as illiterate. As Joe turns to look for his shovel to shoo the Indian away he is gone.
One of Joey’s friends shows up later that day and as they share coffee Joe tells his friend Red about the Indian standing in his garden. The Next day as Joe works on his garden and once again he sees the Indian. The Indian just kind of sits there and says “if you build it they will come. ” Joe then calls the police and explains to them his situation with the Indian. The police say that they will go later in the day, and not to irritate him because “the Indian might be drunk or on drugs. ” Since the police weren’t helpful in Joey’s perspective he decides to call his friend Red.
When Red shows up the Indian is still in his garden and they decide to “take him down. ” They grabbed some tools and Joe charged towards the Indian. Before he knew it he had fallen and when he looked back up the Indian was no longer in sight. That afternoon when the police showed up and Joe explained to him where the Indian was and how he was going to take him down earlier, but he tripped and fell in his attempt. The officer asked if the Indian looked familiar and Joe replied “no there aren’t any Indians around here” and his friend Red the corrected him by reminding him of some guys who come around on weekends.
Joe replied “those old winos? ” Joe and Red don’t know the Indians, but because they may have encountered mom Indians that are drunks they make the assumption that the Indians that they see on the weekends picking up cans are winos. They are contributing to a negative conclusion of a particular group, yet they don’t even know any of them on a personal level. That fallowing Saturday they decided that they were going to ask the Indians that pick up cans what the Indian that roams their garden means, or wants from their appearance.
Joe and Red wait till about noon when the so called “winos” show up and decide to approach them to get their situation cleared up. Red suggests approaching them with some beers to seem friendly. The more common thing to do would be to approach them with water after all they don’t know for a fact that they drink alcohol. Red and Joe are conversing with the Indians when they mention how hot the weather is and one of the Indians offers Red and Joe a drink. Mimi fellows like a drink” says one of the Indians and Red responds “no thanks” and offers them a beer. When the third Indian says they drink “lemon water… Y wife makes it without any sugar so it’s not as sweet as most people like. ” Through this statement the Indians overthrow the ideology that Red and Joe had about the Indians being winos, because rather than drinking “Also” as they referred to it there was lemon water in their bottles. They told the Indians the situation that they had with the Indian in Joey’s garden and asked for their help and the Indians agree. They point over to Joey’s house and ask if they can see the Indian, yet the three Indians who are crushing cans can’t see a big Indian in Joey’s garden.
It’s clear that none of the Indians can see the big Indian standing in the garden the only ones who see this big Indian are Joe and Red. Red then asked “if you woke up one day and found a big Indian standing in your cornfield and all he would say was ‘if you built it they will come’ what would you do? ” and one of the Indians replied ” I’d stop drinking” suggesting a Joke, as the other two Indians covered their faces. The Indians begin to go along with Joey’s story about the Indian in his garden even though they don’t see any one. The Indians then agreed to go talk to the Indian in the garden too see what is it that he wanted from Joe.
The Indians walked over to the garden, but still did not see an Indian. They pretended to talk to the Indian and then went back to inform Joe and Red that the Indian wants them to build him a bench in his garden. The Indians take advantage of the situation and decide to play with Joey’s mind, so in this case the smart ones were the Indians. Throughout the story Red mentions that the Indian in the garden can possibly be a spirit, for in this case it was a spirit. The only ones that can see and hear the Indian in the garden are Joe and Red.
Even though the Indians told Joe what to do he still went about doing whatever he wanted. He wanted to get rid of the Indian his own way. He told red his idea and red agreed to help he was going to charge at him from both sides so he will not have an escape. Joe begins charging and as he swings his shovel at him he swings right through him and “crashes into the compost mound. Red manages to get a photograph of the moment. When he shows the picture to Joe they realize that the Indian is not in the pictured, therefore finally being convinced that it was a spirit they decide to build the bench.
They would still see and hear the gig Indian even though they built the bench, and they were still the only ones that could see him. In the end the Indians proved not only Joe and Red wrong, but the rest of the individuals that had a particular view of Indians. They assumed they were “winos” that they smelled, and that they were not comprehensive, yet the Indians were much smarter than Joe and Red in this case. This is a perfect example of subverting dominant perspectives. King, T. (200). A Seat in the garden. In L. King, Hear my Voice (up. New Jersey: Dale Seymour Publications.