The Way to Rainy Mountain | Study Guide

N. Scott Momaday

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The Way to Rainy Mountain | Chapter 18 : The Going On | Summary



The ancestral paragraph tells the story of the Kiowas' decision to "follow the sun southward to its home." They traveled far and made camp, and only one man stayed awake. He saw "men" moving in the trees: "They were small and had tails!" The others laughed—until they saw the same thing. They packed and went home. The historical paragraph notes that "possession of the horse" changed the Kiowas' way of life. The horse enabled a man to "procure in a single day enough food to supply his family for a year." The author recalls "summers on Rainy Mountain Creek." There was a pecan grove near the water, and "you could see far and wide even at night." On the following page, the line "he was transformed into a daring buffalo hunter" is repeated next to an illustration of a Kiowa man with a spear pursuing a buffalo.


The reader can presume these small "men" in trees with tails are monkeys. The Kiowas of the time would probably have never seen monkeys if they didn't have horses for transportation. In this ancestral voice segment, the story becomes less mythic, and it is instead an application of myth to an unexplained experience. This is a transitional moment in the book. The ancestral voices in the next section are less legendary in their scope.

The role of hunting and the importance of horses to the Kiowa people are highlighted again here. This, too, sets up the next section of the book.

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