People of the Whale

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People of the Whale
Written by: Linda Hogan
Central Theme:
First published: 2008
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People of the Whale is a novel by American author Linda Hogan. Released in 2008, the book revolves around Thomas Just, a traumatized Vietnam veteran who returns to his home in a Native American reservation to find that it has become in conflict. Thomas must choose between his life in the reservation or his life in Vietnam. The A'atsika Tribe live near Washington, and they worship the whale and the octopus. Upon his return, Thomas is made to partake in a whale hunt, which ends disastrously. Thomas feels guilty about his past and the deaths he caused, and searches for redemption.

People of the Whale was published in 2008. Linda Hogan uses her Chickasaw roots as inspiration.

Tropes used in People of the Whale include:
  • Aerith and Bob: There's a character called Witka and a character called Dick Russell, and they live on the same reservation.
  • Anvilicious: Throughout the whole book, Linda Hogan tries to shove her beliefs down your throats, such as, "progress is important", and "children are innocent".
  • Arc Symbol: The door.
  • Arc Words: The Marco Polo.
  • Author Avatar: Ruth is obviously this. Lin sometimes seems like one, especially how her name is similar to Linda Hogan's.
  • Back from the Dead: Thomas
  • Burial At Sea: The A'atsika tribe's death ritual.
  • Children Are Innocent: One of the messages that Hogan tries to clobber you with. Marco Polo is innocent, the children Thomas prevents his platoon from killing in Vietnam are innocent, really all children featured are portrayed as being innocent.
  • Colon Cancer: Many of the chapter titles have this, most notably "D.O.A: Department of the Army: Rooms". Yes, this is a real chapter title.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Marco Polo seems to be set up to be a major character. Then, halfway through the book, he dies.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Ruth moves on from Thomas and gets together with Dick Russell.
  • Distant Prologue
  • Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: Octopi feature very prominently.
  • The Exile: Thomas's ultimate fate.
  • Fun with Acronyms: D.O.A: Department of the Army: Rooms.
  • The Heretic: Thomas
  • Heroic BSOD: Thomas definitely isn't a hero, but he suffers from this after the events of the war.
  • Jerkass: Dwight
  • Killed Off for Real: Marco Polo
  • Magical Native American: Witka
  • Magical Realism: Ruth was born with gills, and can communicate telepathically. It's implied that Witka and the Old Ones have special powers. Thomas and Witka can both breathe underwater for a very long time. Finally and most importantly, Thomas dies and gets resurrected. It's never explained how any of this happens.
  • Man on Fire (trope)
  • Marco Polo: The supposed namesake of Marco Polo. However, Linda Hogan probably gave him this name because of the pool game where people often hide by breathing underwater. This is very ironic considering what happens to him.
  • Mary Sue: Marco comes across as one.
  • Meaningful Name: Averted spectacularly with Marco Polo. Marco Polo is known for his ability to breathe underwater. Marco Polo is also the name of a popular pool game where breathing underwater leads to a major advantage. Marco Polo dies by having his head held underwater until he drowns.
  • Narm: Shows up on a great many occasions.
  • Never Found the Body: Averted with Marco Polo.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Lin's childhood.
  • Precision F-Strike: Several occur throughout the book, most notably shortly after the botched whale hunt, and when Thomas confronts Dwight.
  • Present Tense Narrative: Large parts are written in Present Tense Narrative, but Linda Hogan switches tenses as frequently as most people blink.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Thomas. Then, he gets better.
  • The Rez: Dark River Reservation is this.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Thomas IS this trope.
  • Symbolic Blood: Thomas's blood is described as being like "crimson dresses".
  • Telepathy: Ruth is a telepath.
  • Title Drop: The book's title, as well as pretty much all the chapter titles that don't have colons in them.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Marco Polo
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Thomas has plenty of brutal flashbacks about Vietnam.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Thomas
  • Unfriendly Fire: After realizing Thomas's strike team has landed in the wrong spot and that Thomas's platoon has begun to kill innocent children, Thomas kills his own men.
  • The Vietnam War: An important part of Thomas's backstory
  • Wangst: Yes, Thomas faced hard times in Vietnam and witnessed many deaths, but does he have to consume his entire life complaining about it?