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Study Guide

The Ancient Child Study Guide & Plot Summary

This Study Guide consists of approximately 80 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Ancient Child.
This section contains 330 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
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The Ancient Child Summary & Study Guide Description

The Ancient Child Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Related Titles and a Free Quiz on The Ancient Child by N. Scott Momaday.

Plot Summary

Grey is a young Native American woman, part Kiowa and part Navajo, who learns to become a medicine woman from her great-grandmother, who is dying. Even after her great-grandmother's death, Grey receives instruction from her.

Set is a middle-aged Native American, a successful artist, and a man who does not like where his life has taken him. He needs to change, and Grey needs to help him change. The change is from civilization to the primitive, from the scientific to the mythological, from an artist to a warrior.

Grey invites Set to Oklahoma via telegram, and here the changes begin after she gives him the bear medicine bundle, consisting of various items wrapped in a faded red blanket. One of the items is a dried grizzly bear paw. Set immediately feels the exhilaration of power, but his transformation to the bear has only begun. His old self and the bear power are at odds with each other, and Set suffers something like a nervous breakdown as a result. Knowing that he is sick, Grey exercises her will as a medicine woman to bring Set back to Oklahoma from San Francisco. Lola, Set's old lover, brings him back, thus ending the relationship and Set's old life.

Weakened from the battle between his two selves, Set needs to gain strength for what he must do next. Grey helps him with this by having Perfecto slap Set in the face with Perfecto's own dried bear paw while en route to Grey's family on the Navajo Reservation. This action raises the resolve in Set to carry on. Grey and Set continue to the Navajo Reservation, where Set gets stronger, Grey becomes a beautiful woman, and they become married by an ancient Native American ceremony. Grey becomes pregnant, thus completing her story.

Set finishes his transformation to the bear by visiting Devil's Tower and having his vision. Set's story of the ancient child is completed, but it will be told again, as it has been told many times before.

Read more from the Study Guide

This section contains 330 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Ancient Child Study Guide
The Ancient Child from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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