Understanding The House Made of Dawn by Scott Momaday Essay

Understanding The House Made of Dawn by Scott Momaday Essay

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Understanding The House Made of Dawn by Scott Momaday

   In 1969, N. Scott Momaday became the first Native American to win the Pulitzer Prize in the area of Letters, Drama, and Music for best Fiction.  As Schubnell relates in N. Scott Momaday: The Cultural and Literary Background, Momaday initially could not believe that he had won a prize for a work that began as a poem (93).  Schubnell cites one juror who explains his reasoning for selecting House Made of Dawn as being the work's 'eloquence and intensity of feeling, its freshness of vision and subject, [and] its immediacy of theme' (93).  For these reasons and many more, House Made of Dawn hailed the arrival on the American literary scene of a "matured, sophisticated literary artist from the original Americans" (Schubnell, 93).


        There are many elements influencing and incorporated into House Made of Dawn that the reader will better appreciate by gaining an understanding of their history or significance in Native tradition. Louis Owens's suggests in his work Mixedblood Messages that "before discussing any aspect of Native American literature, it is important to know what literature we are talking about" (15).  Thus, before one evaluates or analyzes House Made of Dawn any further, one should attain knowledge of the author and culture.  Also, it will be prudent for the reader to have background knowledge of such elements as stories and running.


           Momaday's life greatly affects aspects of House Made of Dawn.  Navarro Scotte Mammedaty, a mixedblood of Kiowa and Cherokee descent, (as well as European ancestry on his mother's side) was born on February 27, 1934.  Numerous scholars and critics note that from the beginni...

... middle of paper ...

...seems the more one knows, about Momaday, the Kiowa, the Navajo, and people of Jemez, among other things, the more one grasps the full meaning of House Made of Dawn.  It is a work full of possibility and revelations.

Works Cited:

Momaday, N. Scott. House Made of Dawn. Harper & Row: New York, 1968.

The Man Made of Words. St. Martin's Press: New York, 1997.

Nabokov, Peter. Indian Running: Native American History and Tradition.  Ancient City Press: Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1981.

Owens, Louis. Mixedblood Messages: Literature, Film, Family, Place. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, 1998

Owens, Louis.  Other Destinies: Understanding the American Indian Novel. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, 1992,1994

Schubnell, Mattias.  N. Scott Momaday, the Cultural and Literary Background.  University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, 1985

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