In Louise Erdrich's Book, Tracks, Is Nanapush a Trickster Or Not?
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King Solomon from the Bible once said that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Every original idea is simply a reworking of a previous idea, with some “originals” having more of the old idea and some less. This concept is especially true for Native American authors, such as Louise Erdrich in her book Tracks, who draw upon ancient stories, legends and culture to give depth and color to their more contemporary writing. One example of how Erdrich expanded upon a previous idea to create an original is found in the character of Nanapush, who, while exhibiting certain trickster-like qualities, has been changed so that he is not a true trickster figure. In many ways, Nanapush exhibits trickster qualities. For one, he enjoys playing pranks upon…show more content…
However, where the old trickster figure used physical power, Nanapush uses the power of words. As one of only two narrators in the story, he has the power to shape our perception of the world in which he lives, and he uses this power to put a more positive spin on events than what was given to us by the other narrator, Pauline. However, as with original ideas that are based on previous ideas, Nanapush demonstrates many un-trickster-like characteristics, most notably the ones that make him seem more human, specifically his fear and his love. For the first, fear, while the trickster character occasionally feels afraid of his situation, he does not actually fear other beings. In fact, one of the markers of the trickster is his sometimes foolish fearlessness. The trickster character does not fear repercussions of his actions—as evidenced by his constant return to them; he does not fear the power of others—as evidenced by his willingness to tackle problems much larger than his ability; and he does not fear what others would call sacred—as evidenced by Coyote’s desecration of the dead buffalo. Nanapush, on the other hand, fears Fleur and her power. His fear is more than pure terror, though; it is the fear that is mixed with respect, a respect that the trickster character gives to no one. For the second characteristic, love, the trickster character loves no one but himself. Although Coyote has a wife and children, he manipulates and uses them, but he