The Way to Rainy Mountain | Study Guide

N. Scott Momaday

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The Way to Rainy Mountain | Chapter 20 : The Closing In | Summary



The first paragraph briefly relates the story of a man who had a "fine hunting horse" that was "afraid of nothing." One day the man became afraid during a charge and turned it from its course, and "the hunting horse died of shame." The historical paragraph tells of the 1861 Sun Dance, when a "spotted horse was left tied to a pole" as a sacrifice and it died of starvation. Smallpox broke out, and a man "sacrificed one of his best horses" to save his family. The author thinks of this man, who gave up something he loved for his family.


The date in this segment (1861) is earlier than the date of the last segment (1879). Here, one man sacrifices a horse to Tai-me, and another man offers his own horse as a sacrifice to safeguard his family. The animals are killed for reasons of religion and family, as opposed to the massive slaughter of the Kiowas' horses by the U.S. cavalry or of the buffalo for the railroad. Those animals died in great numbers, and the deaths resulted in starvation and detrimental impacts on Kiowa culture. By placing this segment immediately after the last one, the author allows the reader to see the contrast more clearly.

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