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Analysis and Interpretation of a literary essay
(The Way to Rainy Mountain)
The Way to Rainy Mountain is an award winning essay publishedin 1969. The author, Scott Momaday was an award winning author whoapplied various styles in this book to deliver his message. This is adescriptive essay, which does not only describe the history of theKiowa tribe, but also the Montana and the Rainy Mountain landscapes.The essay takes the reader through a journey of the author as heseeks to find the history and identity of the Kiowa tribe. His desireto find out the historical identity of his tribe is triggered by thedeath of his grandmother. The essay helps to show the origin and theancestry of the Kiowa tribe. The pilgrimage to the grandmother’sgrave that Momaday undertakes is the foundation of the story. TheKiowa tribe, which originally lived in Montana, had resettled at theRainy Mountain (Momaday 45). The quietness and the lack of life atMontana where Momaday’s grave is located, triggers him to find outthe history of the Kiowa tribe. He recalls the stories that hisgrandmother used to narrate to him about the history and the ancestryof the Kiowa tribe. His physical expeditions to the various locationsalso help him to learn more about the history of his tribe.
The author used specific style and structure in the essay to expresshis main points. The styles and the structure of the essay weresignificant in ensuring that the author expresses his ideas, as wellas achieves his purpose with the essay. It is abundantly evident thatthe main goal or purpose of the author in this essay is to find outthe history of the Kiowa Indian tribe. The structure of the essaytakes three major divisions. He author divided the essay into “thesetting out, the going on and the closing in parts”. Additionally,the essay has also been divided into 24 sections. The essay has alsoapplied the style of different voices. The description of the KiowaIndian tribe history takes a stylistic approach of three narrativevoices (Momaday 36). The first voice is that of the ancestors. Itutilizes the use of oral traditions and myths. These stories andtraditions are mainly on the left side of the book. These storiesinclude numerous traditional Kiowa tales, stories on how the Kiowasacquired dogs and myths about human-animal transformations.
The second voice that the author used is that of the historicalcontext. This is instances where the people outside the Kiowa tribenarrate of the tribe’s history. These voice includes that ofnon-Indian views about the Kiowa tribe. The voice comprises ofmainstream brief historical texts and. Anthropological sources havealso been used to describe the Kiowa tribe’s history. Thisnarrative is very specific of the language. For instance, thelanguage voice clearly speaks of the tribe, rather than for the tribe(Momaday 52). In other words, it is evident that the informationexpressed in this voice is drawn from extensive research and studiesregarding the tribe’s rituals, social structures and customs. Theauthor has used this second voice to vividly describe aspects such asdates, events and names. For instance, phrases such as “…in thevicinity of Bent’s Fork, Colorado” (19), “in the winter of1848-49”, are describing specific places and or dates.
The third voice or the third narrative mode is Momaday’s personalexperience and narration of his memory. He also uses this narrativemode to explain some of the traditional stories and myths. The authoruses his memory and portraits of family members to express personalopinion as a Kiowa. In other words, his expression seems like areaction to the people and places through memory and language. Heconnects to the historical and spiritual Kiowa, as well as thenatural world. The use of expressions such as “I have seen”, “Ihave heard” helps to enhance the knowledge that Momaday has withregard to the history of his tribe.
Whereas the passage is expected to have a personal and emotionalattachment due to the element of a pilgrimage, the author does notportray that mood in the essay. The author’s main descriptionfocuses on the landscape. However, this does not connect with theauthor personally. This being a pilgrimage, the reader has anexpectation of somewhat personal story with regard to the author. Themood of the story does not portray any personal attachment betweenthe author and the descriptive essay. It is evident as a reader thatMomaday was describing the way to the Rainy Mountain from anobjective viewpoint as opposed to personal view. As a result, theauthor is unable to establish any emotional attachment with thereader.
The way to the Rainy Mountain, is an exceptional piece ofwriting which students must learn. The essay takes the reader througha well described journey towards the grandmother’s graveyard.Momaday perfectly describes the images of the landscape, as well asaccurately remembers essential historical details of the Kiowa tribe.The use of the three narrative modes is essential and extremelycreative. It has enabled the author to bring out varying descriptionsthe Kiowa tribe history. This is a style that students who aspire tobe writers can adopt for their future works. However, his descriptionof the landscape and the emotional disconnection imminent in theessay does not paint the desired picture of a pilgrimage. It isevident after reading the story that the author failed to tell thestory from a personal point of view that a pilgrimage should have.The personal connection between Momaday and the reader is somewhatdebatable.
Momaday, Scott. The Way to Rainy Mountain. Albuquerque:University of New Mexico Press, 1976. Print.