When two cultures are thrown together, tensions can be created within the people of each culture. This disruption can cause unconscious forces to surface that create anxiety, pull people together, or push them in unexpected directions. The genesis and consequences of those psychological forces are examined in D. H. Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent and N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn. In addition to the unfamiliarities and adjustments that might be expected to arise between a primitive native culture and an industrialized urban culture, these novels suggest that individuals in cultural conflict may also be struggling with fundamental spiritual questions that are lurking beneath the consciousness of all people.
Reading these two novels together reveals several similar points of view shared by two authors of widely differing backgrounds. These points of agreement surface as a result of the strains between cultures, and they gain strength and value in that they are products of two perspectives: the dominant European culture and the oppressed native culture. In this way the two books refer to each other often and sympathetically.
In The Plumed Serpent, a sophisticated middle-aged Irish woman struggles to reconcile her loathing for all things Mexican with her unexpected attraction to the leaders of a resurrected pagan Aztec religion. In House Made of Dawn, a Native American veteran of World War II dangles between his inability to fit in successfully with white America and his ambivalent attachment to his Kiowa religious traditions. It is rough sailing for both characters, and at the center of the storm is the uncertain...
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...or Mythic Vision in Contemporary Native American and Chicano Fiction." American Literature L (1979): 625-640. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Sharon R. Gunter. Vol 19. Detroit: Gale Research, 1981. 320-321.
Lawrence, D. H. The Plumed Serpent. International, 1992.
Momaday, N(avarre) Scott. House Made of Dawn. 1968. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.
Niven, Alastair. "D. H. Lawrence." British Writers. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1984. 109-110.
Niven, Alastair. D. H. Lawrence -- The Novels. Cambridge University Press, 1978.166-174. 1926.
Petersen, Kirsten Holst, and Anna Rutherford. "Fossil and Psyche." The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. Eds. Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. London: Routledge, 1995. 185-189.
Sagar, Keith. The Art of D. H. Lawrence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966. 145-168.
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