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John, the narrator, is the son of a priest of the Hill people. He has studied for the priesthood with his father and now has come of age. As part of his initiation rite into the priesthood, he has a dream about a gigantic Dead Place in the time of its glory. John's father is afraid the dream may "eat him up" but reluctantly sends his son on a journey of discovery that is the last initiation requirement. The journey is unusual because John travels east in a forbidden direction following a "god-road" to the taboo "Place of the Gods." His discoveries on the journey hold the keys to both the past and future of his people.
His father wants him to get more knowledge of the place of the gods and the reason its so unusual is because he gets farther than anyone else has. He also finds out the storys of what the place is supposed to be like isn't true.
John set out on his journey because he was becoming a priest and he was at the right age to do such a thing. Everyone that was to become a priest had a journey to set forth on at a certian time. It was unusual in a way because he traveled east in the forbidden area and found new york.
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