O! what Man will do fore a Rime!

Self-proclaimed bibliophile, culture nut and nerdfighter. English lit. and linguistics geek. Future career in publishing.

The Ecstasy of Rita Joe by George Ryga

The Ecstasy of Rita Joe - George Ryga

I don't want to hear what your father got to say! He's like... like the kind of Indian a white man likes! He's gonna look wise and wait forever... For what? For the kids they take away to come back?

- Jaimie

The Ecstasy of Rita Joe

Act Two



The Ecstasy of Rita Joe is about a young Aboriginal woman who comes from the Caribou Country to the big city and finds herself on trial for numerous charges, like prostitution, theft, etc. She has a certain amount of hours to find people who will vouch for her character or she will go to jail.


This play is written in a very post-modern way, and I've recently discovered that post-modern plays (and post-modern literature in general) are not my favourite kinds of literature. Much like my thoughts on Burning Vision, I didn't like the way this play was arranged. I'm much more of a Shakespeare/Wilde girl in that I like my plays to have acts and scenes that follow in a chronological order that isn't weaving all over the place in dreamscape or memory.


This is a very important play in Canadian literature because it highlights the plight of Aboriginal peoples so well. I definitely agree that it has a very sympathetic perspective on the issues that Aboriginal peoples had and have to deal with in Canada: poverty, alcoholism, stereotypes, racism. Some of the parts are effective in hitting the message home, but other parts were unnecessary. The ending, for example, ultimately made me think that everything was futile; it wasn't important for the story other than to illuminate the racism which was evident throughout the court process.


However, I did enjoy that the Aboriginal characters appeared to be more multidimensional than their white counterparts. It's always nice to have people of colour represented more thoroughly. I also really liked that the good intentions of Mr Homer, a man who does charity work for the First Nations on the reservation, had a bit of the ol' "I'm helping poor people" self-satisfaction rather than actually treating these people as people who deserve respect.


A great look at the issue with white vs. First Nations during the 1960s that is still semi-relevant today. Although, it's not the best or most enjoyable read if you like your plays to be sequential and ordered nicely.

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