Analysis: The Plague of Doves
Western Governors University
Analysis: The Plague of Doves
There were many compelling choices for my first Introduction to Humanities analysis. But Louise Erdrich had previously caught my eye while reading the course material, and I remember how much her work had made an impression on me; her dedication to writing about the Native American experience, and how multiculturalism in America had not necessarily been kind to them (MindEdge, Inc., 2015). So I was pleased to see that one of the choices was the first chapter of her novel “The Plague of Doves”.
After reading the first chapter my initial thought was; “I want to read more!” It was well written, ...view middle of the document...
The narrative then moved quickly to the hard scrabble love affair between the narrator’s great-grandparents, surviving in the wilds of the Badlands. The present day life of the narrator is interspersed within the events of the past; her own experiences with love and family, storytelling, and her recognition that her own life story is about to unfold.
The book “The Plague of Doves” was published in 2008 by Louise Erdrich, who is considered to be “one of the most significant writers of the second wave of what critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renaissance” (LitLovers., 2015). These writers were eager to explore the “difficulties of the past”, the “Native American perspective”, and “inspired public interest in Native cultures and within Native American communities themselves” (Native American Renaissance., 2014). Erdrich describes how Native Americans lived at the turn of the 20th century, how they were regarded and treated by “White Americans”; living on reservations and prone to being blamed and punished with no legal recourse. Contrast that with the life of the
narrator in the sixties, still living on a reservation but experiencing modern “luxuries” such as a television and braces on her teeth, pining for the love of her then young life. In the context of the first chapter it is difficult to say how life in the sixties was for Native Americans, but continuing to live on a government owned reservation could be seen as an ongoing indictment of the plight of Native Americans.
Louise Erdrich was born in Little Falls Minnesota in 1954. Her mother was a member of the Chippewa tribe, and both her parents taught at a school run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in North Dakota (Long, J. A., 2014). She absorbed traditions and stories about her Chippewa heritage from her mother and grandparents; her grandfather was once the tribal chairman of the Turtle Mountain Reservation (Erdrich, L., 2008). Erdrich as a youth received support from her parents to become a writer, and has named the author William Faulkner as an influence in her writing as well as her spouse Michael Dorris, who headed the Native American Studies Department at Dartmouth (Nittle, N.K., 2015). Erdrich is best known for her “Argus” novels; a series of interwoven books based on her experiences on the Turtle Mountain Reservation, where she spent much of her youth (Long, J. A., 2014).
The one theme of the postmodern age that the first chapter addresses is “multiculturalism”. Multiculturalism has been described as “the blending of multiple cultures within the same community…but ostensibly without the harmful racist undertones” (MindEdge, Inc., 2015). The key word there is “ostensibly”, as mentioned earlier the Native Americans were often easy prey, hostage to a mob of vigilantes and subject to their “justice”. But there were other, more encouraging signs of the effects of multiculturalism, such as when describing “the French, who mingled with my ancestors”, and Native...