The Way to Rainy Mountain | Study Guide

N. Scott Momaday

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The Way to Rainy Mountain | Chapter 21 : The Closing In | Summary



In the ancestral paragraph, a story is told of Mammedaty. Once he rode over the plain and saw the "head of a little boy," who he had heard whistle. Mammedaty got down and looked, but "there was nothing there." The historical paragraph describes the one photograph of Mammedaty. It depicts his clothing in detail and mentions he is holding a peyote fan. The personal paragraph is much longer than usual. According to the author, Mammedaty "saw four things that were truly remarkable." These were the "head of the child," the "tracks of the water beast" mentioned in an earlier segment, "three small alligators on a log," and a mole that blew "fine dark earth out of its mouth." On the next page, the line "things that were truly remarkable" is repeated next to an illustration of a bird.


The author presents the person of Mammedaty again, and he repeats the earlier reference to him as a "peyote man" with the image of the fan, which was used in ceremonies. This reference to peyote may help explain why the illustration to this segment is a bird, an animal not included among the remarkable things Mammedaty saw. Earlier the author stated that Mammedaty owned a peyote fan "made from the feathers of a water bird."

The lines between the ancestral, historical, and personal voices are all but absent here. On the first page of the text, the author notes his father (Mammedaty's son) told him these ancestral stories. The three voices blur in this segment, as Mammedaty becomes part of both the ancestral and the personal. Here, more so than in most parts of the text, the personal nature of tribal voice and history becomes clear.

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