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Free Study Guide for House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday-Summary
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  1. List the main figures of the newer generation Native Americans. What do these characters have in common? Do you see hope for them?

  2. List the figures of the older generation Native Americans. How are they portrayed? With reverence or tragedy as if they were a dying breed?

  3. Study the scene of the climax of the novel. Why do you think Abel kills the albino? What explanations given in the novel are most satisfying for the motive of the murder?

  4. Examine one scene in which the land is given center stage. How would you characterize the prose style of the writing in this description?

  5. Analyze one of the speeches of Tosamah. What kind of character is Tosamah? How does Momaday give words of wisdom to a charlatan?

  6. List the women characters in the novel. What do they have in common? How does Momaday display his gender bias in his protraiture of women?

  7. Trace the instances in the novel in which the runners show up. What is their function in the novel?

  8. Examine the minor characters in the scene of Los Angeles. What do their traits reveal about Momaday’s view of the modern world of the European-American city?

  9. Why does Martinez harass and torture Benally and Abel?

  10. Compare and contrast the characters of Angela St. John and Milly.


The study of literature is not like the study of math or science, or even history. While those disciplines are based largely upon fact, the study of literature is based upon interpretation and analysis. There are no clear-cut answers in literature, outside of the factual information about an author's life and the basic information about setting and characterization in a piece of literature. The rest is a highly subjective reading of what an author has written; each person brings a different set of values and a different background to the reading. As a result, no two people see the piece of literature in exactly the same light, and few critics agree on everything about a book or an author.

In this study guide for a well-known piece of literature, we have tried to give an objective literary analysis based upon the information actually found in the novel, book, or play. In the end, however, it is an individual interpretation, but one that we feel can be readily supported by the information that is presented in the guide. In your course of literature study, you or your professor/teacher may come up with a different interpretation of the mood or the theme or the conflict. Your interpretation, if it can be logically supported with information contained within the piece of literature, is just as correct as ours. So is the interpretation of your teacher or professor.

Literature is simply not a black or white situation; instead, there are many gray areas that are open to varying analyses. Your task is to come up with your own analysis that you can logically defend. Hopefully, these booknotes will help you to accomplish that goal.

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