In the short story Walk Well, My Brother the author, Farley Mowat, develops the idea that a significant experience can lead to a change in how one individual views another individual. The story shows us how a person can learn from another person that is very different from them and be moved by their selflessness into becoming a better person. It also shows us how important it is for people not to judge others for superficial reasons.
An individual can learn a lot from people that are very different from them. I feel that this story was written to illustrate that point. The story tells us about a man named Charlie Lavery who was twenty six years old and believed that he was capable of taking care of himself no matter what the situation. The story gives us evidence of this when the author says, he was very much of the new elite that believed that any challenge could be dealt with by good machines in the hands of skilled men. Charles also had no knowledge of the arctic or of the people that lived there because he felt that he did not need this knowledge as long as he had his machines. It was this ignorance that led him to feel so disgusted with the natives that lived there because he did not understand their way of life. When the machines that he so greatly relied on were no longer of use, he had no knowledge to fall back on. He was completely dependent on a native girl, Konola, whom he despised when he first met. His inability to take care of himself forced him to co-operate and to try and understand this person who was so foreign to him. If it weren t for the situation that he was in, he would never have made that effort and crossed the barriers that he had made between himself and the natives.
In this story, Konola never once acts in a selfish manner towards Charles. She was very ill with tuberculosis and she still followed Charles across the arctic in order to save his life, even after he had left her to die. Charles began to respect this woman and he begins to realize that he was wrong. We know this when Charles is questioning himself; Why had Konola not stayed in the relative safety of the aircraft or else traveled north to seek her own people? What had impelled her to rescue a man of another race who had abandoned her? I think that this is a very important line, because it shows how Charles still feels a separation from her because of race. He cannot see how she would follow a man of another race . Konola does not see this as important, and that is why she feels compelled to save him. He is very moved by her acts of kindness. She took care of him and nursed him back to health even though she herself was very ill. This amazed Charles and changed him from a greedy person to a more giving one. It changed his outlook on the native people and on how he treated others. In the end he begins to care for Konola because she is too ill to take care of herself and this is proof that he had changed because of their situation and the things that she had done for him.
The story shows us that it is important not to judge others superficially and how a specific experience can show us that. This story is about two people that know very little about one another that come together because of a situation that forces their dependence on one another. Lavery was very lucky in the story. He knew very little about the native people and his ignorance and lack of compassion for them almost led him to his death. He saw that by making this mistake, he was putting himself and another in danger. The story shows us this when the author says, sick as she was, how had she managed to follow him how had she managed to stay alive?
The disgust that Charles felt for Konola and the native people quickly faded when he was forced to see what they had to offer and what kind of people they really were. The experience that he had with Konola not only greatly impacted the way he viewed native people, it changed what kind of person he was.