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Presentation on theme: "N. SCOTT MOMADAY: THE LOST CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN STORY."— Presentation transcript:


2 N. SCOTT MOMADAY (1934-PRESENT) BIG IDEA: Momaday uses his unique perspective to examine, evaluate, and explore the American condition – specifically, the Native American condition. In House Made of Dawn, Momaday tragically illustrates that the American Dream and Native American culture are not always compatible.

3  “The fishes come by the hundreds from the sea. They hurl themselves upon the land and writhe in the light of the moon, the moon, the moon; they writhe in the light of the moon. They are among the most helpless creatures on the face of the earth” (79).  “… and small silversided fishes sprawled mindlessly in correlation to the phase of the moon and the rise and fall of the tides. The thought of it made him sad, filled him with sad, unnamable longing and wonder” (87).  “His hands were black with blood and huge with swelling, like rubber gloves. The fog thickened about him until he could no longer see even his hands. He had the sense that his whole body was shaking violently, tossing and whipping, flopping like a fish” (101). GRABBER GUIDING QUESTIONS: 1.What do the fishes symbolize? How can you tell? 2.What connotations does this symbolism present? What does it mean? 3.What is the tone of this excerpt? What effect does it have on you, the reader? What impression do you get from the scene?

4 BIO: Worlds Collide  Momaday was taken as an infant to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and given the Kiowa name “Tsoai- talee” – Rock Tree Boy. From the beginning, Native culture and tradition was an important part of his life.  In 1946, the Momaday family moved to Jemez Pueblo, NM, a home that would prove instrumental in his understanding of white and Native America.  In 1963, Momaday visited the Tai-me bundle, a sacred Kiowa idol that was used in the Sun Dance. The experience was incredibly moving and inspired him to explore his Native roots.  Awards:  Momaday has received numerous accolades and awards, most notably a 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and, in 2007, the National Medal of Arts. “The forces of civilization have moved across the pueblo like a glacier, and, in their path, nothing can ever be the same again. Convenience has brought the old attendant ills. Alcoholism has become a menace of frightening proportion. Juvenile delinquency, unknown to Jemez in 1946, is now a cancerous problem” (Schubnell 19) FORMATIVE EXPERIENCE

5 Exploring the Native American condition THE LOST CHAPTER “His upbringing was less than tribal, and more than tribal. Unlike many Indians who find themselves trapped between two cultures, he could draw on the benefits of both” (Schubnell 15-16). Thesis: Though Momaday undoubtedly represents an important milestone in the history of Native American literature and culture, his distinctive literary voice transcends that specificity to take on a universal significance.

6  “He could see it still in the mind’s eye and hear in his memory the awful whisper of its flight on the wind. It filled him with longing. He felt the great weight of the bird which he held in the other sack. The dusk was fading quickly into night, and they could not see that his eyes were filled with tears” (House Made of Dawn 20).  “The trapping and killing of a variety of birds throughout the novel represents metaphorically the sense of imprisonment Abel feels whenever he is forced out of the world he knows and is enmeshed in the confusion of an alien culture” (Trimmer 230). THE LOST CHAPTER

7  “He had lost his place. He had been long ago at the center, had known where he was, had lost his way, had wandered to the end of the earth, was even now reeling on the edge of the void. The sea reached and leaned, licked after him and withdrew, falling off forever in the abyss” (House Made of Dawn 92). THE LOST CHAPTER

8  “They have a lot of words, and you know they mean something, but you don’t know what, and your own words are no good because they’re not the same; they’re different, and they’re the only words you’ve got…. And you want to do it, because you can see how good it is. It’s better than anything you’ve ever had; it’s money and clothes and having plans and going someplace fast. You can see what it’s like, but you don’t know how to get into it” (House Made of Dawn 139).  House Made of Dawn “reveals the deficiencies of American culture and affirms the values of Indian culture” (Trimmer 228). THE LOST CHAPTER



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