Themes In Tracks By Louise Erdrich

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The novel Tracks by Louise Erdrich explores the culture of the Ojibwa people through an acknowledgement of certain ideas present in their lives. Themes such as storytelling and magical realism embrace the Ojibwa culture and are demonstrated repeatedly by each of the main characters. Old Nanapush in particular illustrates these traits and portrays them in relation to his experiences. Throughout his tumultuous life, Nanapush holds to these themes to preserve his culture and the Ojibwa ways. Nanapush’s life is tied to his passion for storytelling, sometimes in a very literal sense. While living with Fleur through the harsh winter both she and Nanapush are faced with starvation. Nanapush states, “We felt the spirits of the dead so near that at …show more content…

The lack of storytelling made his predicament worse, but he was able to turn his situation around through the opposite. When Father Damien came to the house to bring them news Nanapush was at first unable to speak, but after some strong tea to soothe his throat he begins to talk rapidly. Each time Father Damien attempts to interject, he keeps speaking and doesn’t allow him to get a word in. Nanapush says, “The sound of my own voice convinced my I was alive” (Erdrich 7). He continues talking to the priest through the night and connects this with his survival. When he ceased talking Nanapush came close to death, but he found life again through his stories. This connection saves not only Nanapush and Fleur, but also Fleur’s daughter Lulu. After running to Nanapush’s house in the snow wearing only thin leather shoes, Lulu’s feet were badly frostbitten and she was delirious from the cold. Margaret leaves Nanapush with the task of warming her and caring for her feet, but the pain is so great that she howls, thrashes, and curses. The only way Nanapush knows to calm her is through speech. He later tells Lulu, “I talked on …show more content…

He is committed to keeping his land for as long as possible, and goes to great lengths do to so. He also tries to convince others to do the same by not signing away their land. He is one of the few who truly understands what the papers they sign are really agreeing to, so at a meeting for the Beauchamp Treaty he tells one of his fellow Ojibwa representatives, “Don’t put your thumb in the ink” (Erdrich 100). Although Nanapush realizes this may get him in trouble (in fact he does get fired from his government position), he also knows that the continued loss of land would cause Ojibwa families to lose their way of life. This was true for all of the Ojibwa people. They lived mainly off of nature before the change to reservation life, after which many were forced to sell their land. On some reservations more than 90% of reservation space passed into the hands of white landowners (Ojibwa Culture). Cultural changes accompanied this shift in land ownership. The Ojibwa were unable to sustain themselves through their traditional means of hunting and gathering, and began to rely more heavily on supplies from stores outside of the reservations. The destruction and theft of Ojibwa land also caused the destruction of the culture to which it was tied. This is why Nanapush tries desperately to hold onto his land, sometimes even taking drastic measures. When it appears they will be unable to pay the tax Father

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