House Made of Dawn
You should mainly know the main theme of the book, which is that you
shouldn't lose your
Abel, the main character, always symbolizes the more modernized life that many
Native Americans are now living, such as drinking, etc.
His grandfather, Francisco, however,
represents the traditional ways (going back to your roots).
In the end, Abel ends up joining that
side (or at least acknowledging it), because he realizes he isn't really completely whole without
You always need balance in your life!
The main plot points are:
Firstly, Abel comes back from the war, and goes back to his own
hometown of Walatowa, New Mexico to the Kiowa tribe.
And right away, he's drunk, falling
into his grandfather Francisco's arms.
Earlier that day, Francisco had been daydreaming
was leading some horses on the road) about a race he had run when he was young (traditional
race for good hunting and harvests).
This is a very traditional race in the Native American
community (Remember, Francisco always represents the traditional ways!!).
Meanwhile, Abel, who is now back from the war, shows constant confusion with his own
He does sometimes remember his more traditional days (he used to be a member of an
eagle watchers society, a Tanoan Indian group that hunts eagles).
However, he's now flirting
with other women.
For example, he falls in a love with a visitor from Los Angeles named
Angela St. John, agreeing to help her in chopping some wood for her fire (the priest of the
mission at Walatowa, Father Olguin, had asked Abel to do this).
Later, we again see Abel's
confusion as he kills an albino man for practically no reason.
One reason may be that the albino
may have humiliated him during an earlier ceremony called "Santiago", by dripping some blood
from a rooster on him.
He goes to jail for doing this for several years.
He comes out and has been relocated to Los Angeles.
His roommate is Ben Benally who is a
Navajo and co-worker at the factor where Abel is now working.
He is now really in the bottom
of his life.
In one scene, he's just lying on the beach, helplessly drunk and all broken and beat up
This is symbolic of the chaos that can come when you lose your tradition.
Moreover, he drinks far too much, and he eventually quits his job at the factory to spend most of
his time at bars.
He and Ben get mugged, and Abel goes out to seek revenge, but merely comes
back all beaten up!!!
Abel finds a small bit of refuge through all of this in the more traditional ways.
But in this case,
it's not Francisco that represents that, but John Big Bluff Tosamah, the priest at the mission in
Abel's new home of Los Angeles.
He's always telling old Kiowa legends, and Abel likes
listening to these.
One story Tosamah tells is "The Way to Rainy Mountain" which retells the
Kiowa story of the origin of Devil's Tower in Wyoming.
We can slowly begin to see Abel
changing, and starting to actually like the old ways (he's starting to get a clue).
He even starts