Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell: Prevailing Themes

Essay by sarahreadHigh School, 11th gradeA, January 2005

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Who Has Seen the Wind is a story of a boy and his struggle to understand and interpret the world around him. W.O. Mitchell starts by setting the stage; "Here was the least common denominator of nature, the skeleton requirements of simply land and sky (...)" (1) and follows by introducing his semi-biographical protagonist, Brian O'Connal. Brian, a boy of four, lives with his parents, grandmother and brother in a small town on the Saskatchewan prairie lands. A number of colourful characters pass through Brian's life, helping him to grow and develop through a collection of situations artfully depicted by Mitchell. Brian learns about both birth and death in a very personal and intense way. The ever-present wind makes its entrance at the most suitable times symbolizing the realities, pleasures and hardships of life, and to some, God. The story is told with compassion, insight and sensitivity and Mitchell's delicate and comprehensive character development is rivalled only by his portrayal of the eccentrically beautiful prairie setting.

One of the first things Brian comes to recognize about life is birth. Although the book begins at age four it is reasonable to consider that the birth of his brother, Bobbie, had a significant impact upon Brian. The next time Brian learns about birth is through his father, when he asks about a nest of pigeon eggs that he and Forbsie observed for some time. His father briefly explains how the eggs and the pigeons inside came to be, and Brian begins to understand that birth is the beginning of life. Brian discovers the birth and reproduction of another animal, rabbits, when Forbsie's herd gets out of control. When Brian visits Uncle Sean's farm, he takes a liking to a runt pig that Ab, Sean's hired hand, was meant to kill. Later on...