Momaday's special concern with language stems from his background as a member of a culture with a strong oral tradition, in which language has the power to create and destroy. Abel's destruction comes about through language: from Tosamah's daunting preaching, to the "legalese" at his trial , which silences him. Abel is unable to communicate his need to be healed, and his silence pervades the novel. Abel's recreation also comes through language and ritual. His friend, Benally, teaches him to recreate himself as a native American; "House made of dawn" is the beginning of a Navajo ritual of healing, which encompasses and orders the world. These reminders of his cultural heritage restore Abel, and give him courage to go back to the reservation and become a "longhair" — a participating member of his tribe.
This ordering power of language also embraces Abel's search for the sacred, which Momaday locates in ancient ritual and a bonding to the land. Abel has many guides who lead him through the landscape of the spirit: the paganism and witchery of the albino, the Catholicism of Father Olguin, Tosamah's peyote road, Benally's Navajo chants, and Francisco's death. Although these guides can show Abel the spiritual paths that he can follow, he must create his own language and his "center" — he alone is ultimately responsible for his healing.
(The entire section is 220 words.)