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Analyzing Conflicts in “Of All the Ways to Die”

May 24, 2023 | 0 comments

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May 24, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


Of All the Ways to die is a book authored by Brenda Niskala, as a little ghost story that is offbeat, sweet and short. The research paper will summarize the book in terms of internal and external conflicts. Death comes to everyone despite of the possession, fortune or position in life.


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Perception of reality (internal)

The internal conflict in the reality perception is seen from the conflicting settings in the book from the living world to the underworld. The story weaves the ordinary people’s lives together, teetering on the edges of hope with historical figures that are fascinating (Niskala, 4). The plot of the story shows how the author narrates her story. The author of the “Of All the Ways to Die” book takes readers into the long journeys of the underworld, the real living world of the Saskatchewan and the land of the dead.

Fear of death (internal)

Urma in the book of “Of All the Ways to Die” holds for people the pot luck. These are the people she has lost in her entire life. Every individual brings their favorite recipes, a dish and their life stories and how they used to live, and how they died (Niskala, 24). Death comes to all people, and it does not matter the lifestyle, fame and fortune that one possessed in the true life.

Human compassion (external)

-The invitation from Urma attracts attention from acquaintances, loved ones and a few faces that are famous including that of the bog mummy, a Cree grandmother, St. Antony and the prairie ship builder who is eccentric (Niskala, 24). Is there a possibility that these people can help Urma in finding Eleen, the teenager who is missing?

Critical analysis of Of All the Ways to Die

Niskala (44) attempts to show that the journey into the afterlife or death is not as easy and straightforward as people may imagine. Not only are important aspects of the dead lost along the way, there are cases where people are completely lost and unable to trace their journey into the after-life. Despite the fact that a new life awaits them, people could end up desperately lost, with the living and the dead completely unaware. This is signified through Eleen the young teenager being rescued in the novel (Niskala, 48).

Death comes to all people, and it does not matter the lifestyle, fame and fortune that one possessed in the true life, when death comes knocking all people are equalized. The characters in the novel, famous, rich and average, all together lived different lives. Lives in which they all admit, perhaps, they would never have willingly crossed paths. However, upon death they all become equalized, journeying together into the unknown (Niskala, 88).

The reader gets drawn into the lives of the characters both past and present, often finding villains and heroes mixed in the group. Those who are willing to help trace and find Eleene and those who desire to remain as they are.
Unlike the many novels of death and the journey into the death, Niskala (57) finds a way to add satire, humor and mystery into a book educating people on life after death. Conflicts between the characters, inspiring stories of their lives and Urma the girl who brings it all together manage to make the book not drab, and dull as many books on death are, but more lively and exciting.

According to Niskala (17), the book of “Of All the Ways to Die” is a novella about a pot luck dinner, where the entire guests who have been invited are all dead. The book leaves the readers in suspense wondering whether the book is for zombies. The interplay at the pot luck dinner is wonderful witty and charming. Death is portrayed as meaningless as the characters laments on their unachieved dreams during their lifetimes.

The story has been narrated casually, fascinating and in a friendly manner. Moreover, the amazing thing in “Of All the Ways to Die “is that the author has packed hell in the meaning of death. The afterlife according to Niskala (73) is not portrayed as pleasant to the readers in about a hundred pages of the book. The story is also sorrowful that can make a reader cry a bunch of times.

Niskala (42) indicated “Of All the Ways to Die” can also make the reader smile until the face hurts. The recipes elaborated in the book may tempt an individual to go and try them. Niskala (52) pointed out the characters contained within the book. They include stores of drug addicts, sex trade workers, pow-wows, acquired brain damage, love family, war dreams, royalty, hope, death, life, mystery and food. The book is entirely a mystery, a historical and a speculative fiction, and a fantasy. Furthermore, “Of All the Ways to Die” is also a recipe book and a brilliant tribute to people who are inspirational.

The novel provides a way for people to relive and find what they lost in their real lives. It provides an insight into what the characters of the novel found to be important during their lifetime. Whether it is a recipe or a piece of attire, it is one thing that these characters would have wanted to have before and after their death. It is also a story of denial, despite being the living dead, these people have desires and wants which have been denied them. They seek ways to have the desires restored, small things that may not be considered important, and perhaps they did not consider important until their demise (Niskala, 109). Urma gives the characters a chance to find happiness through finding for them the small things they lost in their journey between the worlds.

Work cited

Niskala, Brenda. Of All the Ways to Die. Thornhill, ON: Quattro Books, 2009. Print.

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