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Tracks by Louise Erdrich

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Tracks- Louise Erdrich

In the novel Tracks, Louise Erdrich portrays the story of Native American families in the region of North Dakota whose lives are intertwined. The author uses two narrators that each have distinctive styles. The first chapter of the novel Tracks sets in motion key elements of the story, being the shortest chapter of the piece, it is a great introductory element to the tale, that the author choses to introduce through the eyes of Nanapush.

As previously mentioned, the first chapter is narrated by Nanapush , who’s first line is ‘we started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued falling’ (p.1) there is the repetition of the word ‘we’ which emphasizes the importance of the community to Nanapush, it’s not just about himself, but about his community of as a whole. Two major themes are also introduced to the reader, death and nature, which are significant recurrent elements in the Native American culture and throughout the novel.

The reader understands Nanapush is storytelling to his granddaughter. He goes back to the beginning of the twentieth century, during the ethnic cleansing of the aboriginals and the surveyors coming for the deforestation and appropriation of Native American lands ‘a wind from the east bringing exile in a storm of government papers’ (p.1) personification of the wind brings emphasis on the desperate situation the Anishinaabe tribe have been living in. Tuberculosis had been decimating villages, to avoid the propagation of the disease, the government would send agents to burn houses, and sometimes, with people still living in them.

Nanapush is making sure the tribe’s legacy is being passed on by telling stories about them to his Granddaughter, ‘my girl, I saw the passing of times you will never know. I guided the Buffalo (…)’ (p.2), there is a shift from ‘we’ to ‘I’ Nanapush is an historical vestige, he has lived through times his granddaughter can only dream of, and is now a chronicler. ‘I saved the last Pillager. Fleur, the one you will not call mother’ (p.2), important line of the chapter, underling the difficult relation Nanapush’s adoptive granddaughter and her mother have, but also showing the motives for the old man’s initiatives to his story telling, it is not only to educate her on Native American tales, but for the girl to understand where she comes from, and understand her mother’s decisions.

Death is once again mentioned; the corpses of the Pillagers are laying on the ground. Nanapush pays respect to them, when he sees Fleur in the corner, despite the sickness, ‘She was wild as a filthy wolf a big bony girl whose sudden burst of strength and snarling cries terrified the listening Pukwan’ (p.3), Nanapush is depicting the young woman as a strong female figure. He decides to take her in and care for her , foreshadowing a change in gender roles, where he

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