In the short story Borders by Thomas King, Mel, the man whoworks at the Duty-Free store, states that the mother is “an inspiration to usall”. This depiction of the mother as an inspiration is accurate consideringthat throughout the story, she sets an example of how one can stand by theiridentity. The mother does not compromise on her principles. Through herstrength and perseverance, she is able to defend her identity as well as obtainjustice at the border.
At first, the mother demonstrates to her son the need tobe contented in his own country and not get so easily pleased by invitations tovisit America. “Most of the postcards said we should come down and see thecity, but whenever I mentioned this, my mother would stiffen up” (King 133).That she later agrees to visit her daughter illustrates that she is notentirely objected to the idea of visiting her. Rather, she is sending a messageto her son that home is their priority. Even as they get ready to travel beyondthe border, the mother wants them to maintain their identity “I had to dressup, too, for my mother did not want us crossing the border looking likeAmericans” (Kings 133). At this point, the son realizes that his mother greatlyvalues their identity and is therefore, compelled to dress up accordingly. The mother also vehemently defends her identity at theborder. As they attempt to cross the border, she is asked to reveal her citizenshipand she says Blackfoot.
This answer is unacceptable to the immigration officersince she has to be either American or Canadian. The son thinks that her motherought to just say she is Canadian and get it over with “It would have beeneasier if my mother had just said “Canadian” and been done with it..”(King 135).
The mother is determined to stick to her identity and is not willingto be profiled on the basis of borders. Even when the guards insist that shechose either side of the border, the mother sticks to the “Blackfootside,” (King 136). The mother demonstrates her perseverance by consistentlyreturning to the border even after being turned away repeatedly. Her son is nowaware of her mother’s principles and can even predict her response “I knewexactly what my mother was going to say, and I could have told them if they hadasked me” (King 136).
Although he understands his mother’s principled nature,the son ends up saying they are Canadian. However, he is considered a minor and as aresult, the immigration officers cannot listen to him. Even after being toldthat they would not be allowed to cross the border unless they revealcitizenship, the mother didn’t compromise her principles and so they “got backin the car and drove to the Canadian border” (King 137) The mother also exemplifies strength throughout theirordeal at the border. Despite the fruitless efforts the mother makes to crossthe border, she remains focused on crossing the border.
At some point, her sonthinks that her mother has given up on the journey. But to his surprise, sheheads for the American border “I thought we were going home, but she turned thecar around and drove back towards the American border” (King 140). The boy isvery much pleased by her mother’s strength in pursuing what she thinks is right.He refers to this determination as pride and considers it good as well as desiresto have it sometime “pride is a good thing to have, you know. Laetitia had alot of pride, and so did my mother.
I figured that someday, I’d have it, too”(Kings, 140). Even after wanderingaround the duty free store, going through the rejection routine at the Americanand Canadian border, and sleeping uncomfortably in the car, the mother’sdetermination does not subside “The second night in the car was not as much funas the first, but my mother seemed in good spirits…” (King 141). The mother is eventually able to get justice at theborder after standing her ground. She visits her daughter at the Salt Lake Cityand other places as well. It is on their way back home that they encounter Melagain. Mel had earlier told them that “justice is a damn hard thing to get, butthat we shouldn’t give up” (King 143). Therefore, when Mel saw that they hadsucceeded in traveling through the border, he felt that the mother was aninspiration to them all since she neither compromises on her principles nor givesup on finding justice.
Additionally, the mother had inspired the children tostand by their identity as well as be proud of where they come from. Herchildren later realize that their home and identity is what is best for them. Afterhaving all the fun he had wished for at the Salt Lake City, the boy feels boredand is happy to return home “After a week or so, I got bored and wasn’t all sadwhen my mother said we should be heading back home” (King 144). In the sameway, after a discussion with her mother “Laetitia said she was thinking aboutmoving back” (Kings, 144). In conclusion, the mother portrays herself as a strongand uncompromising person when defending her identity and seeking justice. Sheappropriately and successfully demonstrates to her children, along with otherslike Mel, the need to stick to one’s identity and not be defined by borders.Therefore, she is an inspiration to individuals desiring to maintain theiridentity or pursue justice.