While the word “half-breed” is used “as a synonym for sloth, squalor, and disobedience,” the term “Ape, the bitch” implies “a primordial savagery and animal sexuality,” which dehumanizes April (Smulders 82).
These choices—one typically evasive, the other typically resistant—protects them from identifying as the racist’s Other” (220). Semple imposes onto them, April and Cheryl develop unique coping mechanisms that lead them towards different routes and ultimately alienate them from each other.
Mary Gillis suggests that “the two sisters have marked differences in their outlooks— differences which lead to intense conflict and finally a rift that is healed only with Cheryl's death” (44).
The violence and abuse, both childhood and sexual, that April faces from the De Rosiers and her rapists, respectively, are examples of personal racism.
This includes the slanderous names that the De Rosiers call her, like “half-breed,” “squaw,” and “Ape, the bitch” (Mosionier 35, 46).
Lockridge especially emphasized the values of the landscape and its mythic enhancements.
How regain a sense of the miraculous and a reverence for the landscape when the ancient river gods are taking flight at the coming of the railroads?
Semple, has in the constructed trope of “the ‘Native girl’ syndrome,” (Mosionier 64). Semple does not exhibit explicit hatred towards April for her Nativeness, she looks down on her and limits her scope for self-definition by confining her to such a stereotype. Thus, these symptoms remain, as naturalized ideologies do, in April and Cheryl’s minds until the syndrome becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for Cheryl.
The ‘Native girl’ syndrome’s symptoms include, “[getting] pregnant right away, [being unable to] find or keep jobs… Margery Fee notes that “April decides to be white; Cheryl decides to be a Native social worker.
He spends a modest life as a Hoosier schoolmaster who writes poetry on the side as an idealist who quietly nurses the highest literary aspirations.
But he is too mired in his own tragic past to write his way toward a visionary future, to write the epic of America.