Identity in House Made of Dawn Essay

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Identity in House Made of Dawn

In 1969 N. Scott Momaday won the Pulitzer Prize for his phenomenal work, House Made of Dawn. The novel addresses the issue of identity, how it can be lost as well as recovered. Momaday offers insightful methods of recovering or attaining one's identity. Momaday once made the following now famous statement:

We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves. Our best destiny is to imagine, at least, completely, who and what, and that we are. The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined (Owens, 93).

For Momaday, imagination is the key to identity, and it is this key that Momaday offers as a solution to the problem of
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The path to imagination and identity lies in those things that show us who we are, that heal and make us whole, and that promote order and reality. Throughout House Made of Dawn, two of Momaday's methods to attaining identity reveal themselves to be, on this same path, running and stories. These methods are not separate, but intermingle and cross over one another at different times. Ultimately, through the utilization of these methods, one can gain a sense of identity and the ability to imagine oneself. At the novel's ending, this is exactly what Abel does.

In the second paragraph of the prologue, Abel is running. The prologue begins with Abel running and ends with Abel running. The prologue, in a mythic time and place, tells the story, and how it will end, in accordance with traditional storytelling. (Owens, 96). We, the reader, know that Abel with find himself by the novel's end. However, what is important, is "the way the story is told" (Owens, 96). Thus, in finding running at the beginning and ending of the prologue, one can infer that running must be important to identity, because only when Abel has his sense of identity does he run. The portion of the novel following the prologue proves this to be true throughout. Owens says that for the Jemez Pueblo, the native community and culture in which the novel is set, "running can have serious ceremonial applications" and that
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