Literary Precedents for House Made of Dawn

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Readers familiar with Ira Hayes, the Indian hero of "Iwo Jima," will notice an immediate similarity to Abel. Both Abel and Ira were war heroes who came back home and became victims of white prejudice and the lack of opportunities for American Indians. While the plot is cast in familiar Anglo-American terms, much of the power of the images and concepts stems from early native-American writers, such as Black Elk, Lame Deer, and others who recorded visions and preserved sacred traditions of the culture. Contemporary literature, such as Cogewea, the Half Blood by Mourning Dove (1927), or The Man Who Killed the Deer by Frank Waters (1942) recorded the struggle of halfbloods, illegitimate children, and other misplaced American Indians who must discover where they belong.

While much of the cultural material is clearly based in Native American texts, Momaday also owes much to traditional American writers, particularly William Faulkner. From...

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This section contains 240 words
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House Made of Dawn from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.