Winnebago Trickster Cycle

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Trickster tales hold great importance in the many Native American tribes and communities who have passed on the myths and legends from generation to generation through oral tradition. Winnebago Trickster Cycle attempts to record some of the stories. This episodic narrative of Trickster, as he is referred to in the stories, and his travels demonstrates many common trickster characteristics defining the narrative as trickster literature. Upon analysis of the episode twenty and twenty-seven of the Winnebago cycle, both comparisons and contrasts to each other can be identified. Many of the tales in this narrative are woven together buy threads of similarities that demonstrate the protagonist as a trickster and these two selected stories are no …show more content…

A standard of trickster theory is the figure’s easy use of deception to obtain basic pleasures such as sex and food. In the Winnebago tales specifically, Trickster tends to use disguise and manipulation to fulfill his needs and, in the two stories with which I am concerned, mainly his desire for food. In one scholars’ definition of the common trickster characteristics it is said that “as his name explicitly states, the trickster is a consummate and continuous trick-player and deceiver” (Mapping Mythic Tricksters 35). So clearly deception tends to come along with the trickster figure, but the lies told in these two tales also expand to include the role of shape-shifter which is considered by this source to be a separate trait. Shape-shifting does seem to extend beyond a simple deception but remains within the realm of manipulation. Where shape shifting is concerned “not even the boundaries of species or sexuality are safe” (Mapping Trickster Characteristics 36). This is the case in the twentieth tale of the cycle in which he transforms himself into a “very pretty woman indeed” (Winnebago Trickster Cycle 135). After having done so, he marries a chief’s son. Not only is this a story concerning the transformative nature of …show more content…

On a basic level a trickster, just as his name signifies, is a trick-player who uses deception and manipulation in his travels. The fact that he deceives to obtain base pleasures such as food, sex or just the entertainment of tricking someone, is also an aspect to be considered in defining trickster behavior. But Trickster is too complex to only be considered a trick-player. In the process of his deception he tends to overturn and demonstrate rebellion against the established social order and customs. This is not a way to fight against establish society as it may seem, but a way to reaffirm the necessity of rules and customs in maintaining social order in the minds of the younger generations who may hear these stories. In this way the trickster is a cautionary morality tale and an instructive tool warning them not to act like him. The most central trait to the trickster figure portrayed, besides these, is the contrary use of his creative and destructive powers which speaks to the very message of ambiguity and liminality within the tradition of trickster mythology. Beyond the combination of opposite concepts, the trickster represents the chaos of all contrasting elements of the world which these tales attempt to

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