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Margaret Craven | Short Summary | Themes and Symbolism | Characters | Links
Short Summary

"I Heard The Owl Call My Name" is Margaret Craven first novel. She was 69 years old when she wrote it. Craven, born in 1901, attended Sandford University, at a time when women did not attend University. She went further, she entered a profession, she was a journalist, at a time when women did not earn a living as journalists.

Craven tells a simple story. The Bishop sends a dying Vicar, Mark to Kingcome, a remote Indian Village in the coastal region of British Columbia. Mark does not know he will die soon. He is sent to the Indians to learn what he has so little time to learn. Living with the Indians he learns peace and what counts in life. He becomes one of them. When he hears the owl call his name he knows he will die. He writes the Bishop. The Bishop comes to Kingcome and tells Mark he will find a replacement and when the replacement comes to the village Mark may return to his world until he dies. The Indians ask him to stay, and that is his decision, for they are his family now. He will be buried with them.

The people in this remote Indian Village are witnessing the slow but inevitable death of their culture. Most of the Indians have names like Jim, Marta and Ellie, instead of the names of their ancestors. The children leave the village to go to school. Many, like Gordon, become "white" and do not return. Some, like Keetah, return after living in the white world and do not fit in either culture.

In this remote Indian Village the potlatch is still an integral part of their society. The potlatch is a ceremony where each Indian outdoes the other with his generosity. He gives away things that may be vital to his families' survival. Something the white government does not understand and has tried to ban.

Craven's book is a modern classic that tells the story of a place where the salmon run, ancient totems stand and there are lessons to be learned.