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Dreams of Indigenous People in The Marrow Thieves Novel by Dimaline


The novel, The Marrow Thieves, was authored by Cherie Dimaline and published by Cormorant Books Incorporated on April 15th, 2017. The story focuses on a bleak future in Canada in which most people are no longer able to dream, and indigenous romantics have to escape their routine. The antagonist, the corrupt government, is looking for a dreamer who can still dream of removing marrow and treating the larger population unable to dream. To get the marrow means death to the unwilling donors. The protagonist, Frenchie, a fifteen-year-old boy, and his companions try their best to avoid the Recruiters; for their safety, they run to the north (Brock). For the Recruiters to be successful in their mission, they turned to the history of building residential schools. They extracted marrow from the indigenous people in these schools after capturing them. The author uses dreams throughout the novel as a technique to explore the ability to have a vision, meaning that only those who see today as an opportunity can survive tomorrow. Cherie Dimaline uses the cohort of indigenous people and images of some famous non-indigenous people to highlight the need to dream regardless of the person’s status.

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The current essay is going to address the problem of not being able to dream when oppressed and limited in numerous ways. The author will outline the importance of dreaming with the help of rich insights into the leitmotifs of hope, history, and love in The Marrow Thieves. This is going to be completed with the help of thematic analysis intended to facilitate the process of finding the most prevalent topics across the story and develop an argument on why hope, dreams, and love could become the key moving forces within one’s life. The essay contains several headings under which the core elements of the story are broken down into smaller fragments in order to validate the concepts mentioned above and demonstrate that The Marrow Thieves is a multidimensional story that could be deemed as relevant in today’s society to a certain extent as well.


Dreams are essential to the indigenous community as they represent hope to continue living. The community exists at a time of emergency and suicide where the natives are the only dreamers left, and their marrow is required to treat people across the world. Hope is the backbone of their survival and the core of their strength, and it is only dreams that are helping them get it. Dreams are giving the indigenous a unique ability to see their future. The novel begins with Frenchie explaining the nightmares he has been having for the past weeks. He described how he was determined to see Mitch and his parents differently from seeing them as he closed his eyes. He told how each family member appeared. For instance, his mom enters Frenchie’s tent with her mouth shut and without her left arm.

Frenchie’s dad drinking from a mason jar by the fire jumped into the fire after seeing Frenchie approaching him (Dimaline 42).

These dreams by Frenchie show how he thinks about his family and his people. His mother has been forcibly silenced and one arm removed. Still, she is willing to look for Frenchie although she had not seen him for several years. The act of Frenchie’s mother finding him shows how hope drives individuals in the most challenging situations. This dream is a message of hope to Frenchie and the entire indigenous community. Dimaline discusses hope as illustrated in her novel and what she says resonates with her audience while being interviewed by CBC. She described how her grandparents made it through residential schools and stories but preserved their language and ceremonies because they hoped they would survive. Thus, holding on to her belief that dreams are standard examples demonstrates that people have hope (Henley.). Therefore, dreaming and being hopeful are crucial aspects that motivate people to progress in various ways.


Moreover, in The Marrow Thieves, dreams show the indigenous community’s history, which helps them maneuver for their survival. In one of Frenchie’s dreams, he saw his mother’s mouth sewn and shut (Damaline 42). The dream indicated that people have permanently been silenced and rendered voiceless throughout their history. As illustrated in the book, society easily lets the indigenous people be forcefully taken and their bone marrow harvested, leading to their death (Briggs). Minerva, the carrier of language and indigenous people’s culture, is silenced by death. This history motivates Frenchie to keep focused on the way to survive lest he is silenced, too. Throughout the novel, the protagonist and his people are on the run. Toward the end of the story, Frenchie stops, as he believes revival is near according to what he saw in his dreams. As a result, Frenchie opts to fight because what he carries cannot be silenced as quickly as his mother was.


Dreams are significant as they give the indigenous people ideas for survival as they interact with nature. In his different dreams, Frenchie encounters a moose. He describes it as “in a way, I got that moose,” but that is not true (Dimaline 52). Frenchie dreamt with the elk two times, and in both, he did not get close to the moose. He anticipated associating with moose, but he did not manage. In a dream, he saw the moose in the woods as a stereotype that indigenous people are one with nature (Briggs). In reality, the dream poses a critique in itself, meaning that if the indigenous people were indeed connected to nature as they assumed, Frenchie could have gotten the moose and interacted with it. This scenario represented nature in the novel. Challenging the indigenous people’s stereotype was vital as it gave Frenchie ideas about his understanding of nature. He has realized that real people do not live by assumptions but choose to side with reality. The new ideas the indigenous people got through dreams made them realize their interactions with nature, resulting in their survival in a hostile society. Therefore, dreams remained central to indigenous people’s survival as they also served them with information.

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Finally, dreams play a pivotal role in representing the love that makes characters sacrifice for others to survive. Frenchie often dreams of his brother, Mitch, who sacrificed himself to save Frenchie (Damaline 42). If it could not have been for the love that Mitch had, he could not die alone. In another instance, Minerva sacrifices for the group; she says the “no” word to the Recruiters, and then she is taken alone to the residential school for marrow harvesting. Although Frenchie is overwhelmed by his people’s destruction, he considers it worthy somehow, as all the indigenous people could have died if sacrifices had not been made. Being the only dreamers in the community, where society betrayed them for their gain, love was essential for them to survive. Frenchie realizes the importance of love in a family and among the people through a dream. Therefore, love calls to sacrifice for others to exist in a futile community.


All in all, the author continuously uses dreams to show the readers their importance among people. The inability of non-indigenous people to dream caused depression among people, resulting in a suicidal case propagated by the rulers in power, who should bring a solution. It is inevitable for the indigenous community to be on the run for their survival. The indigenous people can dream, which makes them see the future despite the challenges they go through. Therefore, the indigenous people have hope through dreams, and this assures them of their survival. They are betrayed, raped, silenced, and murdered, but they remain hopeful of a revived future where there will be no more hunting. Dreams keep them focused as they can learn their history of voice denial. With this knowledge, the survivors fight for a voice by not allowing them to be caught by the government recruiters as they anticipate a future.

Also, dreams pumper the indigenous with more survival ideas by getting rid of assumptions and dealing with nature’s reality to avoid elimination. Society is hungry for their marrow, but they gather more information to survive among traitors through dreams. The virtue of love realized through a dream makes some of the indigenous stays to the end and be a voice to those that sacrificed for them. Therefore, a dream is a powerful tool used by indigenous people for survival.

Works Cited

Briggs, Moira. “The Significance of Dreams in the Marrow Thieves (Moira Briggs and Sarah McKenzie).” Forever Young: Literature of Adolescents, Web.

Brock, Zoë. “The Marrow Thieves Study Guide—Literature Guide.” LitCharts, 2019, Web.

Dimaline, Cherie. The Marrow Thieves. Dancing Cat Books, 2017.

Henley, James. “The Message YA Novelist Cherie Dimaline Has for Young Indigenous Readers.” CBC, 2017, Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, August 13). Dreams of Indigenous People in The Marrow Thieves Novel by Dimaline.

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