Part 2 – House Made of Dawn – Momaday

Momaday’s book explored the dichotomy of life of a young American Indian during the mid-19th century.  It was a little confusing to follow as it jumped around in time and place, and even thoughts.  As a whole, it delved into the multiple perspectives of persons involved with Indian culture in the time.

Where I left off before- Abel was struggling living in the Anglo world in LA in the early 1950’s.  He became overwhelmed and returned to his home reservation with his grandfather, Francisco.  The dichotomy mentioned before was unique as the two worlds were colliding on Abel. As he grew up on the Reservation, he learned a lot from his grandfather and enjoyed learning the culture of his people.  In an action he believed was necessary, he broke the Western laws and was imprisoned.  After serving his term, the government and social agencies provided him a job and place to live in Los Angeles.  In the Anglo world, Abel struggled with adjusting to the idea of this new culture.  During his time there, the only changes he made were to get a job, which he couldn’t keep, and he began drinking heavily.  He stood up to others who denounced the old ways, and showed that he favored the life he knew, back on the reservation.  Upon his return to the reservation, there was little in terms of a financial future in Western terms, but it was rich with tradition, people, and places he loved.

Momaday used poetry, multiple perspectives, and even a diary of an 18th century missionary to make this fictional piece come to life.  He did a great job of putting a voice to different characters.  Most of the book was written through an omniscient perspective, but there was a chapter that stood out as Abel’s roommate in LA, Benally, gave a youthful voice and dialect to share his perspective of Abel’s time in Los Angeles.

Ever since the Europeans began to influence America, the native people continually struggled physically and mentally with adjusting to the new ways brought before them. Some continue to struggle as their elders encourage them to embrace native language, arts, and tradition, as the other society pushes to engage in formal education and employment. It’s a hard battle to fight, who’s to win when there is much to lose either way?

Rating *********9/10

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