The Way to Rainy Mountain | Study Guide

N. Scott Momaday

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The Way to Rainy Mountain | Chapter 13 : The Going On | Summary



The first paragraph describes the making of arrows. In the tale, a man was making arrows when he saw someone was outside. In a conversational voice, he said, "If you are a Kiowa, you will understand what I am saying, and you will speak your name." No answer was given, and so he fired an arrow "straight to the enemy's heart." The two sentences of the historical paragraph note old men made the best arrows, and the young "were willing to pay a high price for arrows that were well made." The personal paragraph tells his father's recollection of an old man, Cheney, who was an arrow maker. Each day this man would "make his prayer" to the rising sun, and the author can picture him "as if he were there now."


The second tale with the theme of overcoming the enemy is one wherein the power of words is not because of magic or medicine. It is, again, because of the cleverness of the Kiowa people—as well as a sense of fairness. The arrow maker is not hasty, neither in his craft nor in stopping a potential enemy. He takes his time, and in doing so, he overcomes his enemy with both his skill as an arrow maker and his wit. This deeper reading of the way the man overcame the enemy is possible because of the included historical detail of how the old men made the best arrows. The description of the arrow maker the author's father knew strengthens this reading as well. The three paragraphs contain more meaning together than alone because they work together. Wisdom and skill come with age. Words are power. All of these things enabled the man in the story to defeat his enemy.

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