Native Identity in Welch´s Winter in the Blood, The Heartsonh of Charging Elf, and Alexie´s Flight

Decent Essays

The construction of identity in Native American literature tends to be contingent on the trope of alienation. Protagonists then must come to terms with their exile/alienated condition, and disengage from the world in order to regain a sense of their pre-colonial life. In utilizing the plight of the American Indian, authors expose the effects decolonization and how individuals must undergo a process of recovery. Under these circumstances, characters are able reclaim knowledge of a tribal self that had been distorted by years of oppression. Through Welch’s Winter in the Blood and The Heartsong of Charging Elk, and Alexie’s Flight, we can see how the protagonists suffer from the tensions of living on the margins of conflicting societies, and …show more content…

His feelings of detachment are further amplified through the memories of First Raise and Moose. As the narrator is overwhelmed with nostalgia, he becomes burdened with grief “for no one but [his] soul” (Winter 146). The continuous pains of his past are what prompt him to discover the story of his grandmother’s youth, and his relationship to the past. In re-telling Moose’s death, he is able to “[cry] for no one in the world to hear” (Winter 146). Despite the alienating affects of grieving, the narrator is finally able to feel emotions for his lost brother, and foremost, for himself. Nevertheless, his mental progression leads to his spiritual awakening where he is able to “laugh, at first quietly, with neither bitterness nor humor. It was the laughter of one who understands a moment in his life, of one who has been let in on the secret through luck and circumstance” (Winter 158). By the same token, we can see how The Heartsong of Charging Elk challenges the American Indian identity. As he leaves his tribal life and is separated by the Wild West Show, Charging Elk becomes a vagrant, confused and disoriented by French culture. He is alienated (and moreover shunned) upon the child’s reaction to his ethnic difference; once she turns to hide, terrified by his appearance, “Charging Elk suddenly remembered how different he was from any of these people and he grew tense” (Heartsong 42). In recognizing that he cannot make himself invisible in

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