A Comparison Between The Way to Rainy Mountain and Love Medicine

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In the novels Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich and The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday, the reader gains views of Native American culture, both past and present, through two disparate means of delivery. Both authors provide immensely rich portrayals through varying literary devices in efforts to bring about a better understanding of problems contemporary Native Americans face, especially regarding their own self-identity.

The story of Love Medicine revolves around a central character, June Kashpaw, and the many threads of relationships surrounding her, both near the time of her death, and in what has gone on before. The novel is an exploration of a family web that June was a key component of. Her character is a pivot point that all other characters revolve around: a love triangle, illegitimate children, life and death, and other issues involving religion, marriage, fidelity and sex. Erdrich uses a method of disjointedness to isolate the various threads as they unravel to shed light on other threads.

In Momaday's work, the reader is on a journey through myth, past and present, as the author draws on oral traditions of Native American storytelling to align-in-parallel a personal journey for understanding of himself, and perhaps the nature of man. Through an inventive technique, Rainy Mountain serves as a way to collect, preserve and disseminate the oral storytelling traditions of Native American storytellers. Momaday has attempted to bridge the oral traditions to written form by weaving three continual strands as a single long braid throughout the text.

When evaluating and analyzing plot between the two stories, one gets a sense that both novels are collages of scenes, with Rainy Mountain having more of a unifi...

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... stronger in its roots. The edginess of Love Medicine relates to contemporary reservation life and culture, and it does so powerfully, but it invests itself so deeply in symbols and humor, and is suitable subject matter for almost any culture, that appears almost vaudevillian compared to the more majestic and down-to-earth Rainy Mountain. While both works are worthy of repeated readings, Momaday's The Way to Rainy Mountain is the one work that stands as a monument to the true roots of Native American history and culture, and especially provides an appropriate foothold on self-identity; and Erdrich's Love Medicine stands more as a passing evaluation of a culture's quirks.


Momaday, N. Scott. The Way to Rainy Mountain. The University of Arizona Press, 1969.

Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine: New and Expanded Version. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.
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