“The Way to Rainy Mountain” is a literary work that unites historical reports, folklore, and memoirs. The structure used for the narrative is unique and provides the reader with an opportunity to dive deep into the described events and try to experience the character’s emotions in person. The book contains three parts, which also appear to be the parts of each chapter that create an outstanding perception.
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Every chapter of the book includes three different fragments. “The Setting Out” part starts with a folklore description of Kiowas and their way of life. Then, the folklore part is accompanied by Kiowas’ historical background: for example, their tradition of “cutting their hair on the right side of the head” (Momaday 21). This part finishes with the character’s feelings, who recalls seeing the “earth as it really is,” which emphasizes the value of each moment in people’s lives (Momaday 21). The author combines the subjective and objective perception of the tribe so that the reader has the entire image and adds the spiritual part, where the feeling of a union with nature and its importance is highlighted.
The chapter continues via the next part, “The Going On”. Here, the story of a man, his wife, and child and how they managed to avoid becoming subordinate to their enemies is told (Momaday 48). This story is followed by the historical reference to destroying a heraldic tipi. Then, Momaday emphasizes the beauty of nature in silence and the abruptness of a bobwhite’s call. Therefore, the sides of facing something unexpected are described from three perspectives, and the reader gets the complete overview of such sudden events. The same structure is followed in “The Closing In” part of this chapter, which finishes with the character recalling riding “into a bank of cold, fresh rain” on a hot day (Momaday 67). These memories about understanding his country through the image of riding portray how peculiar the character’s culture is.
Overall, the perception of Momaday’s book is strongly affected by its structure. The frightening events of the past recalled by a child explaining some folklore-related meanings, accompanied by an objective historical report, contribute to creating an event image. The spiritual reference to the culture of tribes at the end of each part shows an entirely different perspective on an attitude to life and highlights the difference of sensation.
Momaday, N. Scott. The Way to Rainy Mountain. University of New Mexico, 1998.