The Way to Rainy Mountain | Study Guide

N. Scott Momaday

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The Way to Rainy Mountain | Chapter 5 : The Setting Out | Summary



The ancestral voice tells of how the sun's wife "grew lonely." She argued with the sun, left, and took her son with her. The sun saw her leaving and threw "a gaming wheel" at her in his anger. It killed her, and "the sun's child was all alone." The historical paragraph tells of a plant called pomme de prairie that is "turnip-like in taste." It adds the "Kiowa have no tradition of ever having been ... anything but a tribe of hunters." The author thinks "it is not in them to be farmers." He recalls a boy eating a "calf's liver—still warm and wet with life."


The story of the sun's wife and their child might draw the reader's attention back to the representation of women in this text. She is killed for trying to leave after a quarrel. The author does not belabor this. She was a captive of the sun. This idea of women as captives shows up elsewhere in the text as well, memorably in the story of an enslaved woman who rose to influence.

Also in this section, there is reference to the "pomme de prairie" as probably being the plant mentioned in the story. This is the "turnip of the prairie," called timpsula by the Lakota Sioux (a Native American tribe primarily located in South Dakota). It grows in prairies in the Great Plains and into Canada, and it is ripe in June and July.

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