Time and physical setting
The short story “The Custom” was written by Charlie Patsauq in 1974. It describes a time when earlier Inuit generations were forced to leave behind their elders – which meant the elders’ death – as food was scarce, and communities had to move on to search for the resources they depended on for survival.
The short story takes place in Northern Canada, in an Inuit village. The region of Northern Canada is suggested by the fact that the author is Inuit and comes from Canada.
It in unclear exactly when the story is assumed to take place, but we can assume it is during a historical period when senicide (see below) was still practiced among some Inuit tribes. The last recorded case of senicide was in 1939, but at that point the practice had become very rare, so the story might be meant to take place even earlier than this.
The man and his sons live in an igloo (p. 217, l.15) (a shelter made of snow blocks), where the man is also hanged by his sons. This suggests that the story takes place in the winter, as the Inuit people lived in leather tents in the warm season. Periods of famine were also more common during the winter.
The social setting deals with several aspects related to Inuit culture and lifestyle.
Note that although the author uses the t...