As Black Elk Speaks is not a novel, it may not seem to illustrate themes in the traditional literary sense. As a narrative shaped around the life of an extraordinary person living in extraordinary times, however, it raises significant universal issues and explores central ideas that can be traced throughout the book. The following essays examine some of those thematic ideas as well as a unique textual problem posed by the circumstances of the book's publication.The story of someone who undergoes great tests of character to become the embodiment of the values of his or her society is a familiar one. Such stories are the stuff of myths, legends, fairytales, and folktales. The most familiar plot structure for these stories is the journey: The hero sets off on an
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