Indian Horse

Hockey Symbol Icon

The most important and explicit symbol in the book is the game of hockey. After being forced to attend St. Jerome’s school, Saul Indian Horse discovers that he’s a naturally gifted hockey player. He becomes so adept at the game, in fact, that he gets the opportunity to move to a new town and play with a talented team of significantly older boys. Again and again, Wagamese uses hockey as a symbol for Saul’s life more generally. In Canada in the mid-twentieth century, hockey is viewed by many as a “white person’s game,” and therefore Saul’s love of hockey is symbolic of how different his life is from the lives of his ancestors. The story of Saul’s career as a hockey player in many ways mirrors the story of his life as an Indigenous person living in Canada at a time when racism against Indigenous people is rampant throughout Canada, since Saul struggles on and off the ice to remain true to his identity while also finding his place in a world that many people think he doesn’t belong in (i.e., the world of hockey). Furthermore, the sensation of gliding on the ice that Saul has while playing hockey is repeatedly described as a feeling of freedom, which itself becomes a metaphor for the state of freedom Saul seeks as a young Indigenous man who, pursuing his passion, is met with a great deal of resistance from racist, white Canadians (who, paradoxically, destroyed his people’s culture but don’t want him to have anything to do with theirs).

Hockey Quotes in Indian Horse

The Indian Horse quotes below all refer to the symbol of Hockey. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Douglas & McIntyre edition of Indian Horse published in 2012.
Chapter 16 Quotes

I would not feel lonely or afraid, deserted or abandoned, but connected to something far bigger than myself. Then I'd climb back into bed and sleep until the dawn woke me and I could walk back out to the rink again.

Related Characters: Saul Indian Horse (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hockey
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 22 Quotes

"Hockey is like the universe, Saul," he said one day. "When you stand in the dark and look up at it, you see the placid fire of stars. But if we were right in the heart of it, we'd see chaos. Comets churning by. Meteorites. Star explosions. Things being born, things dying. Chaos, Saul. But that chaos is organized. It's harnessed. It's controlled.

Related Characters: Father Gaston Leboutilier (speaker), Saul Indian Horse
Related Symbols: Hockey
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 23 Quotes

"Do they hate me?"
"They don't hate you, Saul." 'Well, what, then?"
"They think it's their game."

Related Characters: Saul Indian Horse (speaker), Father Gaston Leboutilier (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hockey
Page Number: 91-92
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 24 Quotes

I looked around at all those adult faces, lingering on Father Leboutilier's. I'd never been offered choice before.
'All right," I said. "I'll go."

Related Characters: Saul Indian Horse (speaker), Father Gaston Leboutilier
Related Symbols: Hockey
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 25 Quotes

No one said a word. They didn't have to. I stripped off my jersey and sat there breathing in the atmosphere of that small wooden shack. I was a Moose.

Related Characters: Saul Indian Horse (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hockey
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 30 Quotes

When we walked into the lobby the first thing we saw were glass cabinets along the walls filled with trophies and photographs. It was like a shrine to their home team. We stood there with our gear bags in our hands, studying the display. There were no awards in our bush league. The winners were celebrated with feasts and parties but there was no money for trophies.

Related Characters: Saul Indian Horse (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hockey
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 36 Quotes

"My dad never talks about the school," he said. "Mom neither. And they don't say anything about what happened before that. Maybe someone just gave you a chance to rub the shit off the board once and for all."

Related Characters: Virgil (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hockey
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 38 Quotes

The press would not let me be. When I hit someone, it wasn't just a bodycheck; I was counting coup.
When I made a dash down the ice and brought the crowd to their feet, I was on a raid. If I inadvertently high-sticked someone during a tussle in the corner, I was taking scalps. When I did not react to getting a penalty, I was the stoic Indian.

Related Characters: Saul Indian Horse (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hockey
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

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When I hit the ice I was effective. I scored twenty-three points in nine games. But the taunting from the stands continued, and I fumed and smoldered and racked up one hundred and twenty minutes in the penalty box. I caused the Marlies to play short-handed a lot of the time, and we lost seven of those games. Finally, they benched me completely. After one night of sitting in the stands, I packed my bag and got on a bus back to Manitouwadge.

Related Characters: Saul Indian Horse (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hockey
Page Number: 167
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 49 Quotes

He'd told me I could play when I was big enough. I loved the idea so much that I kept quiet. I loved the idea of being loved so much that I did what he asked. When I found myself liking it, I felt dirty, repulsive, sick. The secret morning practices that moved me closer to the game also moved me further away from the horror. I used the game to shelter me from seeing the truth, from having to face it every day. Later, after I was gone, the game kept me from remembering. As long as I could escape into it, I could fly away. Fly away and never have to land on the scorched earth of my boyhood.

Related Characters: Saul Indian Horse (speaker), Father Gaston Leboutilier
Related Symbols: Hockey
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 52 Quotes

"They scooped out our insides, Saul. We're not responsible for that. We're not responsible for what happened to us. None of us are." Fred said. "But our healing-that's up to us. That's what saved me. Knowing it was my game."
"Could be a long game," I said.
"So what if it is?" he said. "Just keep your stick on the ice and your feet moving. Time will take care of itself."

Related Characters: Saul Indian Horse (speaker), Fred Kelly (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hockey
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 56 Quotes

"Even up here in the sticks, we like to use a hockey puck to play hockey," Virgil said and pushed out onto the ice.
"Old habits," I said when he reached me. "New days," he said.
"The guys here?"
"Them and more," he said.

Related Characters: Saul Indian Horse (speaker), Virgil (speaker)
Related Symbols: Hockey
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Hockey Symbol Timeline in Indian Horse

The timeline below shows where the symbol Hockey appears in Indian Horse. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 15
Cultural Genocide Theme Icon
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
...and kind, and he takes the children on long hikes outside. He also starts a hockey team at the school. (full context)
Cultural Genocide Theme Icon
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
Transcendence Theme Icon
Father Leboutilier urges Saul to join the hockey team, insisting that hockey is “the greatest game” there is. Saul agrees to attend a... (full context)
Cultural Genocide Theme Icon
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
Transcendence Theme Icon
To his own amazement, Saul finds that he understands hockey almost immediately. He’s good at seeing the ebb and flow of the game and understanding... (full context)
Transcendence Theme Icon
Saul begs Father Leboutilier to teach him how to play hockey. Father Leboutilier sadly explains that only older boys are allowed to play—Saul’s going to have... (full context)
Chapter 16
Transcendence Theme Icon
Saul has a new chore: cleaning the hockey rink before practice. He has to wake up very early to do so, but he... (full context)
Chapter 17
Transcendence Theme Icon
...in secret, stashing a pair of skates in his bag for when he cleans the hockey rink every morning. After a couple months of this, he’s become “a bird” on the... (full context)
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Transcendence Theme Icon
...but he’s grateful for being able to do so. Without ever playing a game of hockey, he gradually assembles all the skills required for doing so. Moreover, he’s careful to keep... (full context)
Chapter 18
Transcendence Theme Icon
In hockey practice, Father Leboutilier is a tough coach. He knows exactly what he wants his boys... (full context)
Transcendence Theme Icon
The hockey team practices for its first game, in which they’ll play against a team from White... (full context)
Chapter 19
Cultural Genocide Theme Icon
Transcendence Theme Icon
...Ignacia protest, Father Leboutilier is able to convince them to allow Saul to join the hockey team. He insists that Saul has a “God-given gift.” (full context)
Cultural Genocide Theme Icon
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
Transcendence Theme Icon
...has heard from his parents. But he no longer feels so lonely. The game of hockey has filled him with hope and energy. (full context)
Chapter 20
Cultural Genocide Theme Icon
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Transcendence Theme Icon
A couple weeks after Saul is officially allowed onto the hockey team, the boys face their first opponent: the “town team.” Saul looks small in his... (full context)
Chapter 22
Transcendence Theme Icon
When Saul plays hockey, he leaves his misery and frustration behind. Father Leboutilier continues to take an interest in... (full context)
Transcendence Theme Icon
For the rest of the hockey season, Saul and his team do well in competitions against opposing teams. Even after the... (full context)
Chapter 23
Cultural Genocide Theme Icon
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
Transcendence Theme Icon
Saul is now almost thirteen years old, and ready to begin the new hockey season. Shortly after the season begins, some men from the nearest town approach Father Leboutilier... (full context)
Chapter 24
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
For the rest of hockey season, Saul competes in scrimmages with his teammates. Father Leboutilier continues to work one-on-one with... (full context)
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Transcendence Theme Icon
...become his legal guardians. Saul will play with Kelly’s Tournament Team and learn more about hockey than he ever could while playing with St. Jerome’s. Furthermore, Fred and Martha are former... (full context)
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
Transcendence Theme Icon
...Father Leboutilier mentions Fred Kelly’s idea to Sister Ignacia, Ignacia is disgusted. She claims that hockey is a “soulless game,” even after Father Leboutilier points out that it will give Saul... (full context)
Chapter 26
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
In the coming weeks, Saul familiarizes himself with the rituals of playing hockey for the Moose. He and the other players pile into Virgil’s van and drive to... (full context)
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Saul’s hockey games with the Moose are challenging, but also exhilarating. He and his teammates play for... (full context)
Chapter 27
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Hockey is a big deal in the Indigenous Canadian community. Every community has a hockey team,... (full context)
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Transcendence Theme Icon
During his second winter in his new community, Saul begins waking up early and practicing hockey with Virgil. Nearly everyone Saul plays hockey with is bigger than he is, but this... (full context)
Chapter 31
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Transcendence Theme Icon
The Moose’s victory changes their hockey schedule for the rest of the year. Everyone hears about how a little-known Indigenous Canadian... (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
The Moose’s hockey games become more violent, especially when they play against white teams. Sometimes, Saul encounters white... (full context)
Chapter 32
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
...to notice small things about the Moose team’s games with white opponents—for example, many white hockey players refuse to take off their gloves to shake hands with Indigenous Canadian players. (full context)
Chapter 34
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Transcendence Theme Icon
...little about why he works as a talent scout. Although he’s never been good at hockey, he’s always loved the game, calling it “perfect.” He says that Saul is wasting his... (full context)
Chapter 37
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Saul stays with an elderly couple, Elissa and Patrick Sheehan. Their family members have played hockey for generations, and their house is decorated with seemingly endless Toronto Maple Leafs posters and... (full context)
Chapter 38
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
...or “on a raid.” In short, the journalists refuse to regard Saul as just a hockey player—rather, he “always had to be the Indian.” (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
...belittle him for being an Indigenous Canadian. He channels this anger into the game of hockey, sometimes fighting his opponents on the ice. On one occasion, he gets into a fight... (full context)
Chapter 42
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
...but he has already experienced a huge amount of bullying and teasing. He continues playing hockey with the Moose, but he becomes aggressive and intimidating. His teammates stop talking to him. (full context)
Chapter 49
Cultural Genocide Theme Icon
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
...many of the children ran away. Saul explains that he attended St. Jerome’s and played hockey, adding, “They couldn’t keep me on the team.” (full context)
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
...as a child, and about how angry it made him to be jeered at by hockey fans. Hockey was supposed to be an escape: a way of flying away from all... (full context)
Chapter 50
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
...free,” and suddenly becomes angry. He realizes that Leboutilier was lying to him all along: hockey didn't free him at all. Furious, Saul picks up an axe he’s taken with him... (full context)
Chapter 54
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
...must be an excellent coach. Saul greets Virgil by pointing out that one of the hockey players is a “natural center.” Virgil turns, raises his eyebrow, and replies, humorously, that the... (full context)
Chapter 55
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
...come back to town and get a job. He adds that Saul could still play hockey for the community’s team, who regard Saul as something of a legend. There’s a hockey... (full context)
Chapter 56
Family and Tradition Theme Icon
Abuse and Trauma Theme Icon
That night, Saul goes to the hockey rink with a used pair of skates and a hockey stick. Although he hasn’t skated... (full context)