In the book, The Way to Rainy Mountain, author N. Scott Momaday’s relationship with aspects of the past, on both personal and societal levels, helps inspire him to reconnect with his heritage, come to a better understanding of his true identity, and create a written collection to document the Kiowa “oral tradition”.
In the beginning of the book, author and protagonist N. Scott Momaday, is introduced as a grown man of Kiowa descent. Though he expresses interest in the area of his Kiowa heritage, it is evident that he has minimal connection with his Native American ancestors and way of life. Within time, it is revealed that the little history and culture that Momaday knows has been learned from the stories told by his grandmother, who has recently passed away. The death of Momaday’s grandmother, inspires him to journey to her homeland and reconnect with the heritage he has only heard about from stories, pasted down from the generations. Momaday’s initial disconnection with the Kiowa culture is demonstrated in the differentiation of the three sections of writing within each chapter. The first sections are very mythical and speak of the tribe’s creation. Though the imagery, symbolism, and personification of various animals and objects, bring the stories to life, there is no sense of connection between Momaday and the Kiowa myths. Momaday’s actual voice, embodied in the third section of each chapter, mostly describes nature and what he sees on his journey. His connection to the Kiowa culture is evident in the way he views and describes nature through his use of vivid imagery. At the same time, his disconnection from his culture is apparent in the clear distinction between his personal voice and...
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...ly be forgotten forever. His connection to the past and its importance to him is what compels him to prevent the heritage from dying out and his ancestors from fighting an unheard cause. He realizes the importance of written language in the preservation of a culture. After all, if there were written language for Momaday to learn from, he never would have felt the need to embark on his journey to retrace the steps of his ancestors. Though he may be more connected and a more informed man for making the journey, future generations of the Kiowa who feel just as disconnected as Momaday no longer have to make the journey to learn about their people, instead they will be able to connect with both the history book, and the work of art known as The Way to Rainy Mountain.
Momaday, N. S. (1969). The Way to Rainy Mountain. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
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