The Way to Rainy Mountain | Study Guide

N. Scott Momaday

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The Way to Rainy Mountain | Preface | Summary




In a three-paragraph note written 25 years after the book's publication, Momaday explains there are three voices used in the book (ancestral, historical, and personal). He notes, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was spoken." He adds that the book is dedicated to his parents and briefly speaks about them. He mentions his father "told the stories, he drew the illustrations."


The prologue begins with a short poem by the author and a reminder that the journey was "carried on over a course of many generations." The Kiowa story was a "struggle, and it was lost." The Kiowas' story has within it the story of Tai-me and of migration: "It was all for Tai-me, you know, and it was a long time ago."


This section of the book previously appeared in both the magazine The Reporter and Momaday's Pulitzer-winning novel House Made of Dawn. It is the story of Momaday's journey to Rainy Mountain upon the death of his grandmother.


The book had been in print for 25 years before being reissued with a clarification that explains the structure of the bulk of the text. The stories in the book are told in a trio of voices: ancestral, historical, and personal. Each numbered segment to follow will have a short section in each of these voices, in this order.

This introductory material notes details regarding the publication of excerpts and reveals the author's focus on Tai-me and on his grandmother's passing. Although it is not explicitly stated here, the reader may find it useful to know the author wrote another book specifically on Tai-me. This figure, the image of the Sun Dance doll, has held Momaday's attention in numerous texts.

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