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Literature Study GuidesHouse Made Of DawnThe Dawn Runner Walatowa 1952 Summary

House Made of Dawn | Study Guide

N. Scott Momaday

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House Made of Dawn | The Dawn Runner: Walatowa, 1952 | Summary



February 27

Having left Los Angeles Abel is back at his grandfather's house. Francisco is dying, and Abel waits. For six consecutive mornings, Francisco speaks of his memories of childhood and adulthood. He hunts a bear. He meets and romances a woman called Porcingula. They conceive a child who dies. He recalls being a grandfather, and he remembers drumming.

February 28

After six days of listening to his grandfather's stories, Abel wakes to silence. Francisco has died. Abel wraps and dresses the body. He tells the priest, and then he runs. "He was running, and under his breath he began to sing."


In the section dated February 27, Francisco's story is told in memories. While the book is centered around Abel, the people he knows are part of the story and the journey. Over the course of the book, the reader has received the memories of Abel's early life, Milly's memories, Ben's memories, Tosamah's memories, and at times, Francisco's memories. The narrative story line is not only one man's journey from a return from war to peace. It is not simply about the reasons he murders Juan Reyes and why he cannot blend into the relocated Native American community in Los Angeles. Abel is an entry into a larger story, one where all of these people are experiencing isolation and seeking community. Through the land and through relations with women, through the numbness of alcohol, and through bad choices, they continue to seek a way to find meaning. Francisco made the same journey Abel did. Ben made the same journey. And so did Tosamah. Each man has tried various paths, and in each case it was the community of his people that gave the most comfort.

In the section dated February 28, Abel has found his center here at the end of the text. His grandfather's stories and the land draw and hold Abel. Whether or not he will be able to maintain that is not an aspect of the story that is addressed by Momaday. However, the novel ends with an optimistic vision. Abel is running, and he is singing as Ben sang when they were on the hill in Los Angeles.

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