This is not the case.James Welch was a poet and novelist who, upon dying in at 63, had only published five novels and three collections of poetry. At the end of the novel, when he thinks of marrying the Cree girl, the narrator is obviously thinking of following in his grandfather's footsteps. Certainly the respect both had for Standing Bear is a very important part of the explanation. Almost a hundred years old when the novel opens, the grandmother now communicates with her family with an occasional "ai" or squeak of her rocker. They can tell by the moon when the world is cockeyed. The final paragraph of this scene, that concludes part 4, has an unmistakable feeling of something having been washed clean by the rain: Some people, I thought, will never know how pleasant it is to be distant in a clean rain, the driving rain of a summer storm. The important thing about characterization is the attitude the author takes towards the character—how much dignity he allows him. Advancing age has not diminished the strength of her contempt for those who made her an outcast or her hatred for such old enemies as the Crees. Realizing that marriage to Lame Bull means that her son must leave, Teresa tells her son to start looking around because there is not enough for him on the ranch. The narrator then struggles, with the help of Bird, to free a cow that is lying on its side in mud. Originally published in , a reader of the Winter in the Blood today, especially one who is not a Native, is probably far removed from its immediate cultural and geographical contexts. For the most part only an Indian knows who he is—an individual who just happens to be Indian…. Research what current conditions are like on Native American reservations. Send me comments, requests or suggestions either below or via email cf.
Research what current conditions are like on Native American reservations. In both books the grandparents who die serve as the hero's link with the past and with his traditional culture.
Animal references appear with great consistency, either as metaphors or as genuine presences. This is particularly noticeable in his descriptions of animals and birds. After his grandmother's death, the protagonist rides the three miles to inform Yellow Calf. Like his father, whom he describes as "always in transit" before his death, the narrator can neither live with Teresa nor leave her permanently.
But she didn't really count. Long years of association between them enable the narrator to converse with Bird, and Bird has a range of personal responses to his words.
It comes when Yellow Calf, in telling the story of himself and the narrator's grandmother, obliquely hints that he, Yellow Calf, is the narrator's true grandfather. He comments toward the end of the novel that these two were the only people he ever loved. The circumlocution "as though" or "as if" is a frequent device the narrator uses in his descriptions of animal life, as if he feels the need to draw back from the full implications of his words and suggest they are merely metaphors.