Within Winter in the Blood, Welch’s unnamed narrator continuously struggles for self-knowledge, but is thwarted by a highly disconnected past, present and future. In his many destabilizing events, the narrator is unable to connect himself to a cultural or spiritual center, which inevitably denies him of a coherent identity. Throughout the novel he is denied the explanation of his true grandfather, why “First Raise stayed away so much,” and other recollections within his own mind because “memory fails” him (Winter 21, 19). However, the one event the narrator manages to recall is of “when the old lady had related this story, many years ago, her eyes were not flat and filmy; they were black like a spider’s belly and the small black hands drew triumphant pictures in the air” (Winter 36). His remembrance is based upon the premise of storytelling, which takes on the traditional aspect of Native American culture. Whi...
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... “loved...hated…betrayed….[and] the people who have betrayed [him],” he understands that “we’re all the same people” (Flight 130). The novel thus comes full circle in Zit’s awareness, and eventually, urges his new foster mother to “please call me Michael” (Flight 181).
Nevertheless, both Welch and Alexie challenge the dominating constructions of Native identity in their attempts to dismantle all forms of identity (both inside and outside indigenous cultures). By deconstructing the stereotypical tribal experience, Zits, Charging Elk and the Narrator offer a more freely defined model of Native American identity. Each character is thus liberated from colonial ascribed identities, and is able to take on a more ahistorical one. In taking on this model, the protagonists subvert the artificial distinction of society, and reveal a true identity of the contemporary Indian.
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