Tracks By Louise Erdrich

687 Words3 Pages

Louise Erdrich's contemporary short story cycle, Tracks, illustrates the ways of the Native American Anishinaabe (Chippewa) in the 1900s through two first-person narrators. Arguably two of the three main characters, Nanapush and Pauline Puyat, share information about the characters, traditions, beliefs and changes in culture from their own intrapersonal explanations. Erdrich chooses to write her story from the perspective of not only two different genders, but also two completely opposite states of mind. Although both Nanapush and Pauline tell two necessary sides of the same connected story and their emotions impact the way they disclose the tale of the North Dakota Chippewa, Pauline's inability to separate her emotions from truth creates a …show more content…

First, Nanapush and Pauline target separate audiences. In the first chapter, Nanapush addresses his words to his "granddaughter" (Erdrich 1). Even though he is sharing a story about the past, Nanapush includes himself when he references the Indian tribes. In fact, Nanapush begins his story by saying, "we started dying out"; he appeals to Lulu's emotions through his personal survivor story amidst his brothers and sisters dying around him (Erdrich 1). Nanapush, when he says "we", means himself and the Nanapush clan. By utilizing the first and second-person pronouns, Nanapush incorporates Lulu, Fleur's granddaughter, into the story as his own child, even if she will not acknowledge him as such. Additionally, Nanapush writes like as if he is telling a campfire story, like on page 9 when he says, "Some have ideas. You know how old chickens scratch and gabble" (Erdrich 9). His informal tone creates a layer of familiarity in both the reader and Lulu; Nanapush carries on the ancient way of communicating through oral tradition by narrating how he would speak. His goal in writing lies in teaching Lulu about her background and telling her why her mother gave her up, why she should not marry a Morrissey, and why she should be proud of her ancestry (Erdrich …show more content…

Instead, she seems to simply desire to hear herself talk; her increasingly erratic and unstable emotions, dreams and actions unveil the uncertainty of her nature. Yet although Pauline does not have a direct audience, she unconsciously expresses greater emotions as the story cycle progresses, because she drifts away from the tribe. She attempts to convince herself that her actions are lawful, that she is set apart for God's special purpose, but to all her family and friends she is deemed mad. For instance, when Napoleon impregnates Pauline, she tries to hold her baby inside her stomach. Her excuse, she states, is that "I would be an outcast, a thing set aside for God's use, a human who could be touched by no other human" (Erdrich 134). Pauline believes her unborn child, Marie, comes from Satan and will inhibit her from accomplishing God's special tasks. When Fleur discovers she carries Misshepeshu's baby, she tries everything she can to keep the baby alive. Pauline's selfishness and hatred towards her own people justify themselves only in Pauline's eyes. By the end of the story, Pauline cannot tell the difference between whom she serves; she has been following the orders of "Christ", but in chapter eight, she admits "Christ was weak . . . had no foothold or sway in this land" (Erdrich 192). In her following vision, Pauline asks the disguised peddler his identity, to which he says, "I am the Light of the World" (Erdrich

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