In the creative nonfiction Spirit Car by Diane Wilson, the author uses her imagination to recreate the lost details of events that happened so long ago. Wilson does this through her use of setting, dialogue and character development while still telling the story of what happened. One of the best examples of this is Chapter Two: Dakota War of 1862. If Wilson had not recreated those details, the book would not have been as interesting to read.
Throughout Chapter Two, Wilson focuses on her great great grandmother, Rosalie Marpiya Mase. She knew that Rosalie had been in the area for the start of the 1862 war but had not been forced to march because she was married to a white man. Wilson uses what she does know about Rosalie to create a strong and caring character to tell a story about what that day could have been like for her.
“A shot rang out in the distance, startling Oliver and jolting Rosalie into instant, focused attention. Had she imagined it? Was her older son already in the woods hunting for small game? No, there it was again. Another shot, and another. They came from the direction of the Lower Agency. Jumping to her feet and hastily placing Oliver on her hip, she ran clumsily down the edge of the creek toward the river, forgetting her pail and her carrying strap in her haste. Within a few minutes they were standing at the edge of the rapidly moving water, Rosalie breathing hard from her run and the fear that hurt her belly, Oliver clutching his mother’s shirt in a small tight fist. They heard more guns fired, heard distant voices raised in terrible bloodlust as war cries were carried toward them on the west wind. Rosalie continued to stare across the river at the place not too far distant where she knew the Agency stood, as a thin line of smoke drifted upward from the area where the traders had built their stores.” (19)
While she does accurately tell the events of the day as they relate to the war, Wilson does not know what Rosalie was really like or that this is what happened to Rosalie on this day. From the setting, and the time period, and from what she already knows about Rosalie from other family member, it is likely that something similar to this happened, but seeing as it happened in 1862, no one can know for sure. This passage is a great example of how the author recreates these events without compromising there authenticity. It captures the atmosphere and the feelings of the characters and makes the reader feel as if they were there when it happened. In Chapter Two of Spirit Car, Diane Wilson includes a great deal of dialogue, specifically between the Dakota and the whites, and also between the Dakota’s themselves. Because this all occurred so long ago no one can know what exactly what it was that was said; they can only assume it was something similar. The exception to this would be the more famous lines that have been repeated such as when the white trader Andrew Myrick said “So far as I’m concerned, if they are hungry, let them eat grass” (14), or Little Crow’s speech:
“Braves, you are like little children; you know not what you are doing… The white men are like locusts when they fly so thick that the whole sky is a snowstorm. You may kill one- two- ten; yes as many as the leaves in the forest yonder, and their brothers will not miss them… You cannot see the face of your chief; your eyes are full of smoke. You cannot hear his voice; your ears are full of roaring waters. Braves, you are little children- you are fools. You will die like the rabbits when the hungry wolves hunt them in the Hard Moon [January]. Taoyateduta is not a coward; he will die with you.” (16)
These are very famous speeches that have been remembered and become part of history text books. Wilson uses these to create the realistic dialogue for the rest of the chapter. She takes these well-known quotes and mixes them in with…