Tracks

The Umbrella Symbol Analysis

The Umbrella Symbol Icon

Fritzie, the companion of the butcher shop’s owner, gives Fleur a black umbrella and a place to stay in the unused smokehouse. As Fleur returns to her cabin, she twirls the umbrella above her. When Fleur’s baby dies soon after birth, Eli buries the child in the branches of a tree, and Fleur climbs the tree to shelter the tiny box from the weather with the umbrella. It is said that anything that falls under the shadow of the umbrella will be cursed by the Pillagers and the lake monster as a threat to Matchimanito, and this is rumored to be cause of Napoleon Morrisey’s death. When Fleur leaves her land, it is one of the only things she takes with her.

The umbrella is a symbol of the successful ways in which Western objects might be used to the advantage of natives when they are attained without blemish or ulterior motive of the white person gifting it. Fleur is able to shade herself from the weather of the storm on her return to Matchimanito with the gift from her true friend Fritzie, and then she is able to use it to protect her dead child from the elements. Though the rest of the townspeople see the umbrella as something sinister that causes harm to those who encounter it, the umbrella is instead truly a form of unfettered protection that is provided to Fleur and those she loves, in contrast to the way the government Agent and lumber companies seek to trick Fleur into giving up her land and power to serve their own needs.

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The Umbrella Symbol Timeline in Tracks

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Umbrella appears in Tracks. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Summer 1913, Miskomini-geezis, Raspberry Sun
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
...Fritzie has allowed her secret access to, in addition to the gift of a black umbrella. (full context)
Chapter 3: Fall 1913-Spring 2014, Onaubin-geezis, Crust on the Snow Sun
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
Fleur returns from Argus holding a black umbrella and wearing a dress that is too small for her, and Nanapush says that he... (full context)
Chapter 7: Winter 1918-Spring 1919, Paguk Beboon, Skeleton Winter
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
...cabin, Fleur looks ragged and sick, and lurches toward Lulu on the sled. The black umbrella has been propped in the tree where the baby’s body was placed, to protect it... (full context)
Chapter 9: Fall 1919-1924, Minomini-geezis, Wild Rice Sun
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
...Pillager baby had been watching over the land, and that Napoleon had wandered under the umbrella’s shadow. The tribe’s policeman demands an investigation into Napoleon’s death, and begins spying on the... (full context)
Tradition, Assimilation, and Religion Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Self-Destruction vs. Outside Influences Theme Icon
Birth, Death, and Survival Theme Icon
The Importance of Nature in Indigenous Life Theme Icon
...behind her cabin. The cart contains her weed-wrapped stones from the lake, roots, rags, her umbrella, and the grave markers of her ancestors. She and Nanapush leave quickly. Fleur asks Nanapush... (full context)