The novel is structured around the metaphor of a journey, which represents the need to come hometo oneself and to one's family and heritage. It is a difficult journey, as the narrator himself announces in chapter 1, when he returns home from a night on the town: Coming home was not easy anymore. After the first homecoming, the narrator goes away again, to Malta to find his girlfriend. Part 2 sees him back on the ranch, and then journeying once more, to Harlem and Havre. In part 3, he returns home again. Within this structure of departure and return, two more journeys are embedded in the form of flashbacks. These flashbacks are mental journeys made first by the narrator, as he recalls the events leading up to the tragic death of his brother, and second by Yellow Calf, as he recalls the terrible winter of starvation endured by the Blackfeet when Yellow Calf was in his teens.