The Marrow Thieves

Citations, analysis and topics from Cherie Dimaline's 2017 young adult novel


Difference, conformity, resilience, Indigenous culture, cyclical histories, oppression, settler-Indigenous relations, whiteness



“The way to kill a man or a nation is to cut off his dreams, the way the whites are taking care of the Indians: killing their dreams, their magic, their familiar spirits.” — William S. Burroughs (Epigraph)
No commentary or analysis
oppression, settler-colonialism, imperialism

Frenchie’s coming-to story

I’d felt kind of special then, before I knew how dangerous special could be. (Frenchie’s coming-to story, para 43)
Frenchie is reflecting on life before oneirological events
difference, conformity, oppression
“You have to try to keep the goal in your head. You can’t let what’s not here, what’s missing, you can’t let that slow you down.” (Frenchie’s coming-to story, para 62)
Frenchie’s mother’s pep talk on their last night together
“There were generations in our family where all we did was move. First by choice, then every time the black cars came from town and burned out our homes along the roadside. Now the cars are here again. Only now, they’re white vans. And I can’t run that fast. Not fast enough. Never fast enough.” (Frenchie’s coming-to story, para 64)
Frenchie’s mother’s pep talk on their last night together
cyclical histories, oppression, settler-Indigenous relations, whiteness
“…It’s a pretty obvious Nish-magnet. (Frenchie’s coming-to story, para 70)
Students may wonder what a Friendship Centre is; what “Nish” stands for? Would be interesting to explore differences between Friendship Centres and community centres.
Indigenous culture
Maybe the end is just a dream. That made me feel sorry for a minute for the others, the dreamless ones. What happened when they died? I imagined them just shutting off like factory machines at the end of a shift: functioning, purposeful, and then just out. (Frenchie’s coming-to story, para 86)
Attempting to understand the oppressor, what goes on (or doesn’t) in their minds?
“Dreams get caught in the webs woven in your bones. That’s where they live, in that marrow there.”
Miig explains why their marrow is being extracted


Dimaline, C. (2017). The Marrow Thieves. Cormorant Books.

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