House Made of Dawn: The Loss and Rebirth of Identity Indian, as the first inhabitants in North America continent are known as mysterious and full of legends, but they are always considered an old race with glorious and miserable history, like most other earlier civilization in the world. The Indians had been silent in the history of literature for a quite long time, because most of their works are in oral forms, and spread from mouth to mouth among themselves. In House Made of Dawn Momaday tells how a young man, Abel, comes back from the white world and finds that he is lost between both the white and Indian cultures and the loss of identity.
Even though Abel grows up in the tribe and is immerged in the Indian culture, but in other Indians point of view he is still an outsider because of his father. “His father was a Navajo, they said, or a Sia, or an Isleta, an outsider anyway, which made him and his mother and Vidal somehow foreign and strange. ”(Momaday 11) his childhood makes him feels isolated, his entire family members have been dead except for his grandpa, and he was totally lost. Another sign of showing he is losing his identity is his loss of language, according to the Indians; language for them is very important.
They use language to tell stories so the Indian identity can be pass on from generation to generation. Abel has suffered tremendous pain to use language. He wants to pray but cannot enter the rhythm; he tried to sing but cannot get the right words and tune. Abel did not just fails to reenter the Indian world, but also having a hard time to adjust to the white world. “All around you and you cannot get a hold of it because it is going too fast. You have to get use to it first, and it’s hard. (Momaday 139) in Los Angeles everything is going fast, everyone is working all day and at night people will go to the bar to drink. But back at the reservation is a completely different pace, at the beginning of the novel he stop working for three days for a feast. In “The Night Chanter” Ben is able to reconcile these different paces of life style in the city and the reservation but Abel is unable to do so. The differences in the life pace and the value of material make it impossible for Able to accept the white life. His recklessness throughout the novel shows consequences of his loss of dentity. He murders the albino, challenges the Indian and white world authority, these events reflects Abel’s effort to reenter the Indian world. Abel’s inability to adhere to the rules forms his incomplete comprehension of Indian tradition, but he does not realize this and act recklessly against the importance values of Indians. His rebellion against the tradition brings the break of Abel and his grandfather Francisco. “…you ought to do this and that, his grandfather said. But the old man had not understood, would not understand, and Abel left him alone.
It was time to go and the old man was away in the field” (Momaday 20-21). When Abel leaves his tribe and has work in the white world, he still cannot fulfill his inner equilibrium in the city Los Angeles. His Indian nature makes him never obey the white world rules or change his identity. Even though with all of the mental and physical torture that does not make Abel fall. When he is almost dead after being beaten and thrown on the beach, which is a symbol of his death during his struggle between the two worlds. That’s when he sees himself as a fish.
The image reflects Abel’s suffering but also indicates the upward movement in his development after he has become aware of his situation. He eventually has the energy to escape from death just like the fish found their way back to the save water, Abel eventually return home to his tribal community. Also there is the moon image it connects Abel’s present and past experience. The moon is a strong suggestive of a hole for rebirth, his recognition of the moon as a vital influence shows that he is beginning to return to the traditional Indian concept of the universe.
Through all of these flashbacks Momaday reveals the situation of Abel is lost between two worlds, torn apart culturally and spiritually, and drifting death, by the power of nature, Abel regains his identity and his mentality reconstructs through the healing process. When Abel is running in the dawn makes him a new man and helps him from heart-broken to the final recovery. His understanding of the tradition rises to a new stage because he is the first one to follow his ancestors’ footprint and run after the dead. “Abel was running. He was alone and running, hard at first, heavily, but then easily and well… (Momaday 1).
This is a major step towards restoration into his tribal culture. Abel’s running at dawn, singing the words of the night chant, marks the end of his struggle for identity. He finally returns to his place in House Made of Dawn. He finds the right words to express himself and gains a vision of the appropriate path to wholeness. His new vision and voices are expressions of his communication with his native and raise the hope that may become the living link between the ancient past and a promising future for his tribal culture. “Could see at last without having to think.
He could see the canyons and the mountains and the sky. He could see the rain and the rain and the river and the fields beyond. He could see the dark hills at dawn” (Momaday 185). The process of Abel’s mental death and rebirth develops in a circle. He begins his struggles with running and comes back to the running at last. Work Cited Churchill, Ward. “The Crucible of American Indian Identity. ” Jul. 2004 Clements, William M. “Momaday’s House Made of Dawn. ” The Explicator 41. 1 (1982). Print. Momaday, N. Scott. House Made of Dawn. New York: NY p, 1996. Print.