Tom Black Bull Character Analysis

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In the course of one’s lifetime, there are many elements that can provoke change in one’s perspective and/or conduct. These alterations are either made consciously or unconsciously, and can be beneficial or could be detrimental to oneself. The protagonist of Hal Borland’s When the Legends Die, Tom Black Bull, undergoes drastic changes brought upon by traumatic life events that cause his character to experience metamorphic-like transformations within each of the four parts of the novel. In Part II: The School, Thomas gains an impression of modern civilization and ultimately submits to behaving in a civilized conduct from his genuine undomesticated-like demeanor and point of view. In Part III: The Arena, Thomas strays away from his civilized bearing and develops an untamed perception of life and behavior. In both parts,…show more content…
He hunts using hand-made weapons, wears only hand-made clothes, and speaks a language that has been lost throughout the natural course of time and evolution of society. Some advocates for the “modern world” would say that Tom should be broken of the “old ways”- his ways- and be introduced to modern civilization; Tom was in a way- wild. One advocator for the new ways, Blue Elk, deceived Tom by saying, “You are going with me to sing that song for remembering to those who have forgotten. We will go tomorrow, to our people down at Ignacio. You will tell them these things, and they will tell you what they know” (44). Blue Elk makes it appear as though Tom and he will travel to their people to help reinstall the old ways, when actually Blue Elk is plotting to take Tom into town to expose him to the authorities and force him into the ways of the new world. “What’s he doing, running around in a clout like a savage? He should be in school” (38). In Blue Elk’s success, Tom is forced to change and forget his natural wild-like behavior and conform to modern

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