The Way to Rainy Mountain | Study Guide

N. Scott Momaday

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The Way to Rainy Mountain | Chapter 17 : The Going On | Summary



The ancestral paragraph talks about "bad women" and notes they are "thrown away." A "handsome young man" was blinded, but he was a good hunter. However, his wife was deceitful, and when the blind man killed a buffalo she claimed he had not. Then she took the meat and left with their child. When the man was found seven days later, he was taken to a Kiowa camp where a woman was "telling a story ... of how her husband had been killed by enemy warriors." He recognized her voice, and "at sunrise they threw her away." The historical paragraph states that all women had a hard life with the Kiowa, and "only the captives, who were slaves, held lower status." The author gives two examples. In 1843 a woman's husband stabbed her for accepting the chief's invitation to ride with him. In the winter of 1851–52, a man stole another man's wife, and she was "made to wait in the snow until her feet were frozen." In the personal paragraph, the author speaks of Mammedaty's grandmother, a captive who rose to influence in the tribe.


Within the text as a whole, the topic of women is glossed over. The sun's wife is killed by the sun. The grandmother spider dies when the grandfather snake is killed. The men are the warriors, brave and clever. Women are not given a position of equality, much less prominence. This segment acknowledges the disparity. The ancestral voice tells of a woman who was "thrown away" for her betrayal of her husband. This does not address her perspective; the husband's voice dominates the legend. The historical note that women were only above slaves in status lets us know this kind of treatment did not just occur in stories. The author's note gives us an exception. In addition to becoming "a figure" in the tribe, his relative is also depicted as being able to "ride as well as any man" and having blue eyes. In her traits and ancestry, she was different from other women presented in the text.

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