House Made Of Dawn Essay

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Throughout House Made of Dawn Momaday forces the reader to see a clear distinction between how white people and Native Americans use language. Momaday calls it the written word, the white people’s word, and the spoken word, the Native American word. The white people’s spoken word is so rigidly focused on the fundamental meaning of each word that is lacks the imagery of the Native American word. It is like listening to a contract being read aloud.

Momaday clearly shows how the Native American word speaks beyond its sound through Tosamah speaking of his Grandmother. Tosamah says,

"You see, for her words were medicine; they were magic and invisible. They came from nothing into sound and meaning. They were beyond price; they
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The first is with Tosamah when he tells about the way John describes his insight. He says of John,

"…old John was a white man, and the white man has his ways, oh gracious me, he has his ways. He talks about the Word. He talks through it and around it.

He builds upon it with syllables, with prefixes and suffixes and hyphens and accents. He adds and divides and multiples the Word. And in all of this he subtracts the truth." --Pg. 83

Momaday wants the reader to see how superficial and trivial their words can be. Everything is stressed to be grammatically correct instead of alive. The white man’s words break everything down until there is nothing left, nothing more to imagine and connect with. This is what Momaday shows the reader by putting in Abel’s questionnaire when he leaves prison and enters relocation. Every part of Abel will be filed into a category, denying Abel to be viewed as a whole and have his words heard by unbiased ears. Through this Momaday shows the reader that there comes a point when there can be too many words, when perfection has been attained and one more word ruins it. This is what John has done. He tries to explain what he does not totally understand, filling in the blanks with "prefixes and suffixes" until there is no more meaning for the listener. The second time Momaday contrasts the white men’s language use with Native Americans’ is at Abel’s trial. The white men at the trial refuse to
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