The Way to Rainy Mountain | Study Guide

N. Scott Momaday

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The Way to Rainy Mountain | Chapter 24 : The Closing In | Summary



The ancestral paragraph of the last segment tells of a woman who was buried "in a cabinet ... in a beautiful dress." The historical paragraph details the ornamental beadwork of Aho's leggings and moccasins. The third paragraph is a poetic series of lines on the landscape and on mankind's relationship to it. "The sun rises out of the plain," Momaday says, and "once in his life, a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth." He should "give himself up" to the land.


This final segment of three voices is one of loss, mourning, and the celebration of beauty. A woman in a beautiful dress is buried somewhere in this landscape, and this beauty is hidden in the earth. His grandmother's moccasins are lovely, and that beauty is in the intricately described details of beadwork. Most of all, the beauty is in the land. He speaks of giving oneself over to it. The idea of becoming one with the land is, in numerous ways, exactly what Momaday's people have done. They existed with and because of the land, and their losses were echoes of the loss of the animals that shared the land—the buffalo and the horses.

The beauty of the two women (represented by their clothing) has been incorporated into the beautiful landscape—not only are the women themselves beautiful in death, but death has allowed them to contribute to the beauty of the land. When Momaday remembers them by looking at the landscape, they live on beyond death.

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