Witi Ihimaera’s short story “The Whale” does not follow a traditional structure, although some plot elements are present. The story follows an old man’s memories and is not laid out chronologically. The man’s memories include two main events which function like sub-narratives: the meeting with his niece, and the story of a wedding.

The story includes three characters: the old man, Hera, and the collective character of the Maori community. However, the story is centred on the main character, the old man who represents Maori wisdom and spirituality and who struggles with sadness and frustration at seeing his culture is dying.

The story is set in modern New Zealand in a village by the sea. The setting is one of the essential elements of the narrative because it is filled with symbols, such as...

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