The Way to Rainy Mountain has a distinct pattern in its form. In each section, it has three parts, each of whose separateness is clearly marked by its own place in each page and its own typeface: the legend, the history, and the personal memory. The pattern, however, never makes it simple for the readers to understand the novel. Rather, it confuses and bothers the readers by placing them where the double edges of reality meet. On the one hand, there is a reality as the result of the dominant ideology, which has become a priori in many cases, and which has hidden that there is another reality (or possibly, multiple realities). On the other hand, there exists another reality, which is present (thus, real) but absent (or buried), and which makes the dominant "reality" possible but, at the same time, continuously undermines it. In The Way to Rainy Mountain, the patterned form brings about the two different realities: first, there is a discursive, or ideological reality, which separates legend from history and the personal from the cultural; second, there is a lived-way-of reality, in which legend, history, and the personal experience can never be separated. Along the journey to the Rainy Mountain Cemetery, where the memory (that is, "experience of mind which is legendary as well as historical, personal as well as cultural" p.4) is buried, the readers are continuously challenged to make a connection between the three forms of memory, which has been always obvious in Native American oral tradition. It is hard to trace all three forms at once; thus, focusing on the personal account of experience and memory, I will examine how it is related with an...
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...ccounts of memory are overflowing into one another and forming a panoramic picture of memory, in which the distinction between legend and history and between the personal and the cultural cannot operate any more. The plain he is watching over is not the land itself. Somewhere in it, a woman in a beautiful dress is buried without a tombstone. Even the "glare of noon and all the colors of the dawn and dusk" has its memory to be recollected. It is a landscape heavily loaded with the memory - both legend and history, both the personal and the cultural, which should be recollected and remembered. It is a "remembered earth," which "a man ought to concentrate his mind upon," "to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder about, to dwell upon it."
Momaday, Scott N. The Way to Rainy Mountain. Albuquerque: U of NewMexico P, 1969.
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