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. The great snow storm they experience together not only binds them but forces Eli to turn to his Chippewa roots in order to survive. Thus, the true lessons of life can be learned through the mentorship of one man’s life becoming transparent though one another.
In Chapter 5, we see the climax of the relationship between Nanapush and Eli. Like everybody else in the book, Eli shows up at Nanapush’ residence to seek wise counsel. Unfortunately for Eli, Nanapush is not amazed by the adversities in which Eli is experiencing. We see this within the beginning of the chapter. We see the inner child of Eli, trying to get the attention of the man, Nanapush. Eli tries to gain Nanapush’ attention; by making comments under his breath and banging his head against the table. All the while Nanapush is attentive, but is also not entertaining the temper tantrum of the child. The eruptions through the dialogue finally spring out when Eli starts with, “How much a man endures?” Nanapush’ response is small but powerful by simply stating, “What Man?” (p.97) Nanapush r...
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...ves from what may feel like only a season. And that’s most of the time. They are typically put into your life for you to learn and build up specific characteristics about yourself. But sometimes people come into your life in what may seem a lifetime. These kind of relationships are built upon constantly. With Eli and Nanapush, they embarked upon a relationship that build upon the grounds that they needed each other to survive. Eli needed Nanapush for wisdom to survive and cope with the adversities and lessons of life. Nanapush needed Eli to physically survive in the dire time of need. And when we look at the after affects of the lessons that Nanapush gave to Eli, I realized that Eli then stepped forward to mentor his younger brother. So after the lessons were over between Nanapush and Eli, so the passing of the torch has begun for Eli to share the wisdom with Nector.
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