Essay about Jean Erdrich 's Novel, Tracks, By Louise Erdrich

Essay about Jean Erdrich 's Novel, Tracks, By Louise Erdrich

Length: 1470 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In her 1988 novel Tracks, American author Louise Erdrich explores the transformational factors of Ojibwe society in the 1910s. Amid lurid tales of cultural larceny and the erosion of traditional animism, she discusses a key catalyst for social change: the acceptance of the Roman Catholic faith by many Ojibwe. Erdrich condemns those self-denying, death-rooted elements of Catholicism that divide a people caught between traditional and modern identities, selecting her troubled co-narrator, teenaged Pauline Puyat, as a vehicle through which to convey this message. A mixed-race fifteen-year-old seeking to establish a modern identity on a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation, Pauline embraces Catholicism with alacrity. Like the Ojibwe people, Pauline finds her Native American identity gradually eroded through the acceptance of dogmatic Catholicism. Erdrich uses the development of Pauline’s faith through painful self-suppression to deride the cultural corrosion Catholicism wrought on the Ojibwe of the 1910s.
Early in Tracks, Erdrich establishes Pauline as a character representative of her people, even though she admits finding her heritage dangerously obsolete. When discussing the doings of Fleur Pillager, a traditionally-minded Ojibwe mystic, Pauline speaks on behalf of her entire community, saying, “We thought she would keep the good ways […] but then […] we knew that we were dealing with something much more serious” (Erdrich 12). Such discourse indicates that Pauline expresses viewpoints broader than her own, and that she acts as a microcosm of 1910s Ojibwe society. This interpretation is further evidenced when Pauline discusses her discomfort with her Native American identity. She spurns traditional Ojibwe handiwork, stating tha...


... middle of paper ...


... dissolved oxygen interacts with such a metal, hydrogen ions gradually “consume” iron atoms’ electrons (“Rust Chemistry”). Of course, this process results in the replacement of a once-shimmering surface with a coarse, ruddy exterior. In a similar fashion, Erdrich identifies Catholicism as a force that contradicts and consumes elements of the Ojibwe cultural identity, turning individual Ojibwe against their cultural heritage and casting them into a state of internal turmoil. Through the use of Pauline, a character representative of the broader Ojibwe people, Erdrich condemns the role of Catholicism in eroding the significance of traditional practices. As Pauline descends into faith-based instability, Erdrich unveils the cultural attrition wrought by a faith rooted in death, grounded in contradictions, and inimical to the humanistic customs of an indigenous people.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about `` Love Medicine `` By Louise Erdrich

- There are many different themes in, “Love Medicine” a book written by Louise Erdrich. Some of which are poverty, family, racism, and religion. The one that I am going to write about, is love. Love is one of the most prominent themes in this book. It conveys a mother’s love for her children, a wife’s love for her husband, and a son’s love for the ones whom he perceives his parents to be. This is but to name a few examples of love found in the book by Ms. Erdrich. However, there is also the lack of love that this work of literature portrays....   [tags: Marriage, Love, Louise Erdrich, Adultery]

Better Essays
1179 words (3.4 pages)

Essay The Novel Love Medicine By Louise Erdrich

- Point of view is one of the single greatest assets an author can use. It helps to move the plot along and show what is happening from a character’s perspective. An author can make the plot more complex by introducing several characters that the reader has to view events through. The events can then be seen through different eyes and mindsets forcing the reader to view the character in a different light. From one perspective a character can seem cruel, yet, from another, the same character can seem like a hero....   [tags: Love, Romance, Character, Novel]

Better Essays
1982 words (5.7 pages)

Mentorship In Louise Erdrich's Tracks Essays

- Mentorship: From Childhood to the Man Louise Erdrich explores the inner conflicts of an Indian tribe in her novel Tracks. By the end of the novel, the tribes’ accord is broken by the lure of the white man’s money and land reform. The divisions among the tribe are epitomized by the physical separation of the Chippewa people into different colors that correspond to their different land allotments. However, one chapter in particular contrasts with the tribe’s tendency towards discord. Chapter 5, in which Nanapush and Eli overcome their differences and unite in an attempt to avoid starvation lends hope to the ominous series of events throughout Tracks which show conflict developing from unity....   [tags: Louise Erdrich Tracks]

Better Essays
1075 words (3.1 pages)

Louise Erdrich's Tracks Essays

- Louise Erdrich's Tracks      In Louise Erdrich’s “Tracks';, the readers discovers by the second chapter that there are two narrators, Nanapush and Pauline Puyat. This method of having two narrators telling their stories alternately could be at first confusing, especially if the readers hasn’t been briefed about it or hasn’t read a synopsis of it. Traditionally, there is one narrator in the story, but Erdrich does an effective and spectacular job in combining Nanapush and Pauline’s stories. It is so well written that one might question as he or she reads who is the principal character in this story....   [tags: Louise Erdrich Tracks Essays]

Better Essays
1117 words (3.2 pages)

The Red Convertible, by Louise Erdich Essay

- It is said that when a man returns from war he is forever changed. In the short story, “The Red Convertible,” Louise Erdrich demonstrates these transformations through the use of symbolism. Erdrich employs the convertible to characterize the emotional afflictions that war creates for the soldier and his family around him by discussing the pre-deployment relationship between two brothers Henry and Lyman, Lyman's perception of Henry upon Henry's return, and Henry’s assumed view on life in the end of the story....   [tags: the red convertible, louise erdrich]

Better Essays
921 words (2.6 pages)

Essay about Analysis of Louise Erdrich's Fleur

- Analysis of Louise Erdrich's Fleur It's easy to find Louise Erdrich among the canon of what have come to be known as western writers. Her name (or names, given the mltiple pseudonyms) pops up right near the top along with Cormac McCarthy and Elmer Kelton. And as impressive as her noteriety is, one eventually wonders if "western writer" isn't an albatross hanging around the neck of her career. Maybe it's Tolkien's fault. After all, he's the one who created an entire genre in which setting is paramount to plot or conflict....   [tags: Louise Erdrich Fleur Literature Writers Essays]

Better Essays
406 words (1.2 pages)

Transformation in Louise Erdrich's The Red Convertible Essay

- Transformation in Louise Erdrich's The Red Convertible        In Louise Erdrich's "The Red Convertible," the two main characters start off doing seemingly well. However, there are many changes that these two young men go through during the story. Henry experiences the largest transformation due to his involvement in the Vietnam War. This transformation also alters Henry's brother, Lyman, although not for the same reasons. As the story progresses, and these certain events take place, the brothers' innocence is soon lost....   [tags: Red Convertible Essays Louise Erdrich ]

Better Essays
1088 words (3.1 pages)

Conflicting Cultures in Louise Erdrich's Captivity Essay example

- Kidnapping colonists during the struggle for land in the early centuries of American history was a strong force influencing the images of Native Americans circulating among the Puritan pioneers. During these centuries, the battles between the natives and the Puritans cost thousands of lives on both sides, and countless stories in the forms of captivity narratives revealed truths and myths about the Native people. Although there were countless pieces of literature and propaganda published in this time period, the actual Indian captivity narratives have been narrowed down to works “that presumably record with some degree of verisimilitude the experiences of non-Indians who were captures by Ame...   [tags: Louise Erdrich Captivity Poem native Essays]

Better Essays
3456 words (9.9 pages)

Essay on The Effects of War Shown in Louise Erdrich's The Red Convertible

- The Effects of War Shown in Louise Erdrich's The Red Convertible      It is always said that war changes people. In the short story 'The Red Convertible', Louise Erdrich uses Henry to show how it affects people. In this case, the effects are psychological. You can clearly see a difference between his personalities from before he goes to war compared to his personalities after returns home from the war. Before the war, he is a care-free soul who just likes to have fun. After the war, he is very quiet and defensive, always watching his back as if waiting for someone to strike....   [tags: Louise Erdrich Red Convertible War Essays]

Better Essays
657 words (1.9 pages)

Brothers' Relationship: The Red Convertible by Louise Erdrich Essay

- The relationship of brothers usually lasts forever, but in Louise Erdrich’s short story “The Red Convertible”, the relationship of the main characters Lyman and Henry takes a turn. Erdrich takes her audience through the experiences these brothers face and how they must come to terms that their relationship has changed. Knowing that it will most likely never be the same both Lyman and Henry try to fix their relationship until eventually one falls because of the experiences he faced in life. While Lyman may think the red convertible will save his and Henry’s relationship, Erdrich makes it clear that it will not through the characterization of the brothers, the plot of the story, and the symbo...   [tags: lyman, henry, erdrich]

Better Essays
1088 words (3.1 pages)