Momaday, N. Scott (Contemporary Literary Criticism)
House Made of Dawn N. Scott Momaday
(Full name Navarre Scott Momaday; also rendered as Navarro and Novarro) American novelist, poet, autobiographer, nonfiction writer, editor, and artist.
The following entry presents criticism on Momaday's novel House Made of Dawn (1968). For further information on his life and works, see CLC, Volumes 2, 19, and 85.
Of Kiowa descent, Momaday is widely recognized as one of the most successful contemporary Native American literary figures. Considered a major influence by numerous Native writers, he has garnered critical acclaim for his focus on Kiowa traditions, customs, and beliefs, and the role of Amerindians in contemporary society. Although highly regarded for House Made of Dawn (1968), Momaday considers himself primarily a poet. All of his writings, however, are greatly influenced by the oral tradition and typically concern the nature and origins of Native American myths. House Made of Dawn received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1969. It was the first novel written by an American Indian author to be so recognized, and its publication along with the award initiated what has come to be called a Native American Renaissance of literature.
Plot and Major Characters
The action of House Made of Dawn takes place between July 20, 1945, and February 28, 1952. The narration comprises an undated prologue and four dated portions set in the Jemez pueblo of Walatowa, New Mexico (the prologue and sections one and four take place here) and the Los Angeles area (sections two and three). After the brief prologue which describes a young man running, the story proper opens on July 20, 1945, when a young man named Abel, an orphan raised by his traditionalist grandfather, Francisco, returns to Walatowa after serving in the second world war. Alienated and disorganized by war experiences (and also, it is suggested, by the early loss of his mother and brother and previous bouts of malaise), Abel is unable to make a meaningful reintegration into the life of the village. He takes a temporary job cutting wood for Angela St. John, a troubled, sensuous visitor to the area, and has an affair with her. He participates in a village festival and is singled out by a strange, ominous-appearing albino man. Meanwhile, the omniscient narration follows a parallel line with the village priest, Father Olguin, as he studies the diary of his predecessor, Fray Nicolas. On August 1, Abel stabs the albino to death in a cornfield. This section of the story ends the next day with Abel's grandfather Francisco, again alone, hoeing his fields.
The two parts of the second section are dated January 27 and 28, 1952. This section takes place in Los Angeles and centers on the character of Tosamah, a Kiowa storefront preacher and believer in the divine properties of peyote, a hallucinogenic drug. The January 27 section contains the first of two sermons by Tosamah, a long discourse on a verse from the Gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word." Tosamah maintains that language has been debased by white people and its power lost or corrupted. At the time that Tosamah is giving this sermon, Abel appears to be lying miles away, barely conscious after having suffered a terrible beating that has disabled his hands. The omniscient narrator moves back and forth in time presenting fragments of Abel's past: filling out forms in prison or afterwards; meetings with an earnest social worker, Milly, with whom he has an affair; life in prison; and testimony at his trial by Father Olguin and by a friend of his from the army. This section also contains a depiction of a peyote ceremony and introduces Ben Benally, who will play a significant part in Abel's eventual apparent rehabilitation. The January 28 section is composed almost entirely of Tosamah's second sermon, a passage in which Momaday meditates on his Kiowa grandmother's life and the history and passing of the magnificent Kiowa culture. (This piece was previously published as an essay in Ramparts magazine and was later incorporated into Momaday's autobiographical work, The Way To Rainy Mountain .)
The third section is dated February 20, 1952, and is narrated by Benally. His rambling narration includes references to more of Abel's life in Los Angeles: his job at a box-stapling factory, his encounters with a sadistic policeman named Martinez, his participation in peyote services, and their occasional socializing with Milly. Benally also recollects the recent encounter with Angela St. John, who visited Abel in the hospital as he was recovering from the beating that left his hands broken; Angela, now the mother of a son, told Abel a story with a heroic theme, intimating that he reminded her of the hero. Benally also recollects going with Abel to a party in the hills outside the city on the night before Abel was to leave; Benally recalls that at this time he sang traditional songs from Navajo healing ceremonies, including the verses beginning the actual Navajo song called "House Made of Dawn."
The fourth section of the novel is very brief, comprising two sections dated February 27 and February 28, 1952. Abel returns to Walatowa in time to perform the appropriate burial rituals for his grandfather. Having seen to this duty, he begins to run into the dawn. The novel has moved in a circle, returning to the event depicted in the prologue.
House Made of Dawn takes its title from a translation of a Navajo song which is part of an extensive religious ceremony. The text of the translation is included in the novel as a song sung by Benally. The house referred to has been identified as one of the prehistoric cliff dwellings along the upper Rio Grande, and the song alludes to it as the home of the semi-divine personification of the dawn. Throughout the novel, important events and insights occur at dawn or sunrise. Also, throughout the novel Momaday incorporates ceremonial, mythical, and anthropological material from three different American Indian nations—Jemez Pueblo, Kiowa, and Navajo—into the texture of the contemporary story of psychological disintegration and renewal. House Made of Dawn is narratively complex, constructed on a principle of fragmentation and reconstitution somewhat like the modernist poems of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, which Momaday studied with noted American poet and critic Yvor Winters while in college and graduate school. The story has a circular rather than linear or strictly chronological structure: the prologue that begins it actually depicts the closing event of the book, and within each section linear time is reshaped through the wandering thought patterns of the narrators and central consciousness. Moreover, within the story are inserted various non-narrative verbal forms: besides the translated poem text mentioned above, there is another translated poem, fragments purporting to be the diary of a priest, pieces of bureaucratic/legal documents and testimony, and folk tales and legends. The reader's attention is repeatedly drawn away from the story and toward the author's literary devices.
Consistently praised for his exploration of Kiowa concerns and traditions, Momaday is a seminal figure in both mainstream American and Native literature. House Made of Dawn is frequently taught in literature courses, and critics note that all his works are of great importance to Native and non-Native students alike. Momaday's blending of ancient and traditional material with contemporary and modernist techniques has reminded many critics of James Joyce, who combined Catholic religious and Irish political contexts with parallels to classical Greek mythology in such works as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Ulysses (1922). Also, Momaday's use in House Made of Dawn of a fragmented, stream-of-consciousness narrative style, multiple narrative voices, and flashbacks have earned him favorable comparisons with American novelist William Faulkner. Alan R. Velie has observed: "Momaday's achievement in House Made of Dawn is significant. He was able to employ the rhythms and imagery of his verse in creating a prose style that is both lyrical and powerful. It is no mean achievement to make the self-destructive, alcoholic Abel a sympathetic and complex character, or to portray the dusty pueblo of Jemez as a beautiful and exotic place…. House Made of Dawn, Momaday's first literary success, is also his masterpiece."
The Complete Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman [editor] (poetry) 1965
The Journey of Tai-me (folktales) 1967
House Made of Dawn (novel) 1968
The Way to Rainy Mountain (autobiography) 1969
Colorado: Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring (nonfiction) 1973
Angle of Geese, and Other Poems (poetry) 1974
The Gourd Dancer (poetry) 1976
The Names: A Memoir (autobiography) 1976
The Ancient Child (novel) 1989
In the Presence of the Sun: Stories and Poems, 1961–1991 (stories and poems) 1993
(The entire section is 63 words.)
SOURCE: A review of House Made of Dawn, in Western American Literature, Vol. V, No. 1, Spring, 1970, p. 69.
[In the following review, Bennett praises the literary and sociological aspects of House Made of Dawn.]
In academe, where there is a growing tendency to employ literary works as casebooks for social protest or ethnic studies, House Made of Dawn may encounter a curious fate. Because it deals with an interesting variation of the old alienation-theme, namely, the Southwest Indians' conflict with twentieth century America, Momaday's novel may be valued as a social statement rather than as a substantial artistic achievement.
The sociological bias, of course, is insidious insomuch as it tends to reduce the literary work to its thematic clichés: in this case, the Indian hero's ruinous journies into the white man's world, to war, to prison, to the monolithic city, Los Angeles, and his evident redemption in a return to the old ways; the inevitable "civilized" woman, Angela St. John, who discovers the primordial life-force in Indian ceremonials and in the wilderness; and the grandparents who are the last links to the old varieties.
These are the commonplaces of the alienation-theme; but the fact is that the novel clearly transcends them. Through a remarkable synthesis of poetic mode and profound emotional and intellectual insight into the Indians' perduring...
(The entire section is 393 words.)
SOURCE: "On a Trail of Pollen: Momaday's House Made of Dawn," in Critique, Vol. XIV, No. 2, 1972, pp. 60-9.
[In the following essay, Hylton presents a thematic analysis of House Made of Dawn, relating "the tragic odyssey of a man forcibly removed from [the Native American] psychic environment and placed within a culture light-years away from the attitudes, values, and goals of his former life."]
Abel was the land and he was of the land; he was a long-hair and from that single fact stemmed the fearsome modern dilemma explored by N. Scott Momaday in House Made of Dawn. Abel is an Indian of the American Southwest, a member of a culture for whom Nature is the one great reality to which men's lives are pegged, the only verity upon which men may rely. Within this massive concept lie all the religion, all the mores and ethics, all the spiritual truth any man may require. To shatter the concept is to shatter the man. Momaday describes the tragic odyssey of a man forcibly removed from this psychic environment and placed within a culture light-years away from the attitudes, values, and goals of his former life. His anguished ordeal, heightened by his encounter with a white woman, endows him at last with courage and wisdom; he comes to know who he is and what he must do to maintain that identity.
In the Indian view, the universe or Nature is a great cosmological unity...
(The entire section is 3461 words.)
SOURCE: "The Remembered Earth: Momaday's House Made of Dawn," in South Dakota Review, Vol. 11, No. 1, Spring, 1973, pp. 59-78.
[In the following essay, Oleson analyzes the structure and symbolism of House Made of Dawn, paying close attention to the symbol of the earth.]
Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth, I believe. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience, to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon it. He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind. He ought to recollect the glare of noon and all the colors of the dawn and dusk.
The landscape is of central importance, holy in itself, and closely associated with Momaday's theme in House Made of Dawn, as it is in The Way to Rainy Mountain, from which the above quotation was taken. The two books are complementary; taken together they each contribute to the meaning of the other. The leisurely contemplation that Momaday asks a man to give to the earth, he asks his reader to give to House Made of Dawn. A single reading of a book as richly layered in meaning, as intricately structured, as forcefully compressed through the poetic device of abrupt juxtaposition without transition as this one is, leaves one with a vague impression...
(The entire section is 7299 words.)
SOURCE: "Incarnate Grace and the Paths of Salvation in House Made of Dawn," in South Dakota Review, Vol. 12, No. 4, Winter, 1974–75, pp. 115-25.
[In the following essay, McAllister provides a character sketch of Angela Grace St. John and examines religious themes, images, and allusions in House Made of Dawn.]
Angela Grace St. John is one of the most intriguing characters in Scott Momaday's novel, House Made of Dawn. It seems as if Momaday intended for her to have more thematic importance than is immediately apparent. Her thoughts are one of the centers of "The Longhair," and her affair with Abel suggests that she will have some influence on his future. Yet the major action of the novel, the murder of the albino, has no direct relation to Angela, and after confessing her adultery she disappears almost entirely except for two brief appearances in "The Night Chanter." With her Laurentian lust for dark flesh, she is sufficiently stereotyped to offend some female readers. If Angela is no more than a stereotype, she is a flaw in the novel, and if her significance does not extend beyond her brief but suggestive appearances on the forestage, then the novel is less well structured than a fine piece of fiction should be. There are many clues throughout House Made of Dawn which indicate that Angela is indeed more important than she seems and which connect her to the central theme of the...
(The entire section is 3734 words.)
SOURCE: "Native Americans and the American Mix: N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn," in The Indiana Social Studies Quarterly, Vol. XXVIII, No. 2, Autumn, 1975, pp. 75-91.
[Trimmer is an American nonfiction writer, editor, and educator. In the following essay, he provides an overview of the themes and structure of House Made of Dawn, and discusses whether the book meets the Pulitzer Prize's criterion of recognizing works which support "the wholesomeness of culture."]
At the beginning of this century when Joseph Pulitzer was composing the citations for the literary awards to be given in his name [in recognition "for the American novel published during the year which shall best present the wholesome atmosphere of American life and the highest standard of American manners and manhood"], he could not have foreseen that in 1969 the fiction prize would be given to a Kiowa Indian, N. Scott Momaday, for a novel, House Made of Dawn, that would reveal why the wholesome American way could not assimilate and sustain everyone on the American continent. Even in our own time, the savants of contemporary literature did not foresee that this first novel by an unknown author would be singled out by the Pulitzer judges. It produced no extensive commentary when it was published—perhaps, as [William James Smith mused in a review of the work in Commonweal LXXXVIII (20 September 1968)] because...
(The entire section is 7695 words.)
SOURCE: "The Novel as Sacred Text: N. Scott Momaday's Myth-Making Ethic," in Southwest Review, Vol. 63, No. 2, Spring, 1978, pp. 172-79.
[In the following essay, Kerr examines Momaday's ability to render Native American culture and beliefs within the Western literary construct of the novel.]
Recently I sat through a noisy, irreconcilable argument between two Anglos about Indians. An Irish lawyer for the Navajos from Chinle, Arizona, accused an anthropologist friend of blind sacrilege in the Southwest. The anthropologist, who was not present, was defended as an ally of Indians and preserver of culture. The specific issue concerned the unearthing of Anasazi pueblos and especially gravesites in New Mexico's Chaco Canyon, and the withering fear of the Navajo crews once within the Old Ones' middens. The most unholy of trespasses, the lawyer called it, and one likely to bring charges that the crew were brujos. Help the Indians, he said, but don't transgress the sacred charnel.
The larger issue, of course, is the dilemma not only of anthropologists but of any investigator, interpreter, even traveler, and perhaps especially writer, dealing with another people. To what degree is it possible to shed one's civilization and descend (to use William Carlos Williams's phrase, applied to Sam Houston) into a different culture? To what degree is it possible to bring forth honestly and intact the...
(The entire section is 3288 words.)
SOURCE: "The Power of Language in N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn," in Minority Voices, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1980, pp. 23-8.
[Waniek is an American poet, translator, and essayist. In the following essay, she analyzes the role of language as a source of power in House Made of Dawn.]
In 1969, one year after the publication of his novel House Made of Dawn, N. Scott Momaday, in an article entitled "The Story of the Arrowmaker," interpreted the Kiowa legend of the arrowmaker as a story essentially about the power of language. For the arrowmaker, says Momaday, "language is the repository of his whole knowledge and experience, and it represents the only chance he has for survival." The legend depicts "the man made of words." Other writers have pointed out the native American's belief in the power of language; Margot Astrov, in her introduction to American Indian Prose and Poetry, writes, "The word, indeed, is power. It is life, substance, reality. The word lived before earth, sun, or moon came into existence." In their anthology [entitled Literature of the American Indian], Thomas E. Sanders and Walter W. Peek say this about the power:
Whether it existed before Wah'kon-tah, simultaneously, or shortly after, the word is vital to the Great Mystery, being perhaps the greatest mystery, for it has power to cause medicine to work, to lure game into...
(The entire section is 3342 words.)
SOURCE: "Vision and Form in N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn," in Indian Journal of American Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, January, 1982, pp. 69-79.
[In the following essay, Sharma explores Momaday's focus on spirituality and depiction of the Native vision of the world in House Made of Dawn.]
Though initially received with cautious condescension, N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn has now come to be regarded as a major statement by a major American Indian writer. Confused by the novel's "rapidly shifting and sometimes ambiguous chronological frame of reference," earlier reviewers and critics found the novel nothing but "an interesting variation of the old alienation theme"; "a social statement rather than … a substantial artistic achievement"; "a memorable failure," "a reflection, not a novel in the comprehensive sense of the word" with "awkward dialogue and affected description"; "a batch of dazzling fragments" which made one critic "itch for a blue pencil to knock out all the interstitial words that maintain the sophoric flow." They criticised its lack of a proper narrative continuity, its haziness, its ethereal characters, its indistinct plot line and its language on the rather unacceptable ground that "American Indians do not write novels and poetry as a rule or teach English in top ranking universities either," referring obviously to the author as a professor of English. Now,...
(The entire section is 5338 words.)
SOURCE: "House Made of Dawn: Nobody's Protest Novel," in Four American Indian Literary Masters: N. Scott Momaday, James Welch, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Gerald Vizenor, University of Oklahoma Press, 1982, pp. 52-64.
[Velie is an American nonfiction writer, editor, and educator. In the following essay, he presents a thematic overview in which he discusses the dangers of viewing House Made of Dawn as a protest novel, then maintains that the work is about the protagonist's search for acceptance of his identity and heritage.]
House Made of Dawn is Momaday's masterpiece. In fact, I do not think it is excessive praise to say that it is one of the best American novels of the last decade. The book received the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1969, an indication that its merits have not been lost on the critics. Although it has been thoroughly praised, it has been less thoroughly understood.
House Made of Dawn is the story of Abel (we never learn his last name), an illegitimate son of a Tanoan mother and an unknown father, probably a Navajo. The story begins with Abel's return from World War II to his village of Walatowa, a fictionalized version of the Jemez Pueblo where Momaday grew up. Abel is so drunk when he arrives that he fails to recognize his grandfather, who has come to pick him up. Abel feels lost on his return, and obviously his problem is largely that he...
(The entire section is 4224 words.)
SOURCE: "Self-Hatred and Spiritual Corruption in House Made of Dawn," in Western American Literature, Vol. XVII, No. 4, Winter, 1983, pp. 307-20.
[In the following essay, Hirsch analyzes the characters of Martinez, Tosamaah, and Benally and their relationships with the protagonist, noting that for these characters Abel is a symbol of contempt and a reminder of their Native selves.]
N. Scott Momaday, referring to his protagonist Abel, has said, "None but an Indian, I think, knows so much what it is like to have existence in two worlds and security in neither." True as this is of Abel in House Made of Dawn, it is truer still of Martinez, Tosamah, and Benally because they, unlike Abel, try earnestly to conform to Euro-American social values. Indeed, the strong responses Abel generates in each of these characters indicate their perception of something unyielding and incorruptible in him, something which throws into stark relief the humiliating spiritual compromises they have felt compelled to make. In his suffering Abel is both a sorry example and stinging rebuke to them, a warning and a goad, someone both to fear and reverence, for he reminds them of who and what they are—of what they find most contemptible in themselves and most holy. Martinez, Tosamah, and Benally have been spiritually corrupted to varying degrees by the white world, and to the extent that they have, they make Abel their...
(The entire section is 5365 words.)
SOURCE: "Tai-me, Christ, and the Machine: Affirmation through Mythic Pluralism in House Made of Dawn," in Studies in American Fiction, Vol. 11, No. 1, Spring, 1983, pp. 61-71.
[Raymond is an author, critic, and educator. In the following essay, he discusses the role of technology, Christianity, and the Kiowa Tai-me in House Made of Dawn.]
Many critics interpret N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn as depicting disharmony, alienation, and the need for spiritual redemption in a squalid, hellish, temporal world. Martha Scott Trimble, for example, sees it [in her 1973 N. Scott Momaday] as a story of how differences in "language and culture tend through their own territorial imperatives to encompass one, sometimes to a point of isolation." Even those critics not advocating themes of alienation see House Made of Dawn as an insider's novel. To them, it portrays "the orderly continuum of interrelated events that constitute the Indian universe" and "warns native Americans that they may lose more than they gain if they assimilate into the American mix." With its alternative to Christianity and to a modern civilization based on secular, technological structures, House Made of Dawn's optimism has to be inappropriate for an outsider.
Neither of these approaches accounts for the full richness of Momaday's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Rather than denying the...
(The entire section is 4621 words.)
SOURCE: "Who Puts Together," in Studies in American Indian Literature: Critical Essays and Course Designs, edited by Paula Gunn Allen, Modern Language Association of America, 1983, pp. 169-77.
[Hogan is a Chickasaw poet, short story writer, novelist, playwright, and essayist. In the following essay, she relates Momaday's focus on healing and his incorporation of Native American chants in House Made of Dawn.]
N. Scott Momaday, in his novel House Made of Dawn, draws on the American Indian oral tradition in which words function as part of the poetic processes of creation, transformation, and restoration. Much of the material in the novel derives from the Navajo Night Chant ceremony and its oral use of poetic language as a healing power. The author, like the oral poet/singer, is "he who puts together" a disconnected life through a step-by-step process of visualization. This visualization, this seeing, enables both the reader and Abel, the main character, to understand the dynamic interrelatedness in which all things exist and which heals. By combining the form of the Navajo healing ceremony with Abel's experience, Momaday creates harmony out of alienation and chaos, linking the world into one fluid working system.
Momaday is able to achieve this harmony because of his awareness of the language and poesis used in Navajo Chantway practice. The Night Chant is a complex ceremony for...
(The entire section is 4605 words.)
SOURCE: "The Crisis of Identity: House Made of Dawn," in N. Scott Momaday: The Cultural and Literary Background, University of Oklahoma Press, 1985, pp. 101-39.
[In the following excerpt, Schubnell discusses Abel's search for belonging and identity in House Made of Dawn.]
My reading of House Made of Dawn focuses on the novel's thematic center: the problem of identity. First I deal with Abel's early years of harmony and the gradual emergence of conflicts which lead to his departure from the community. Next I examine Abel's attempts to resolve his confusion after his return from a war which has further undermined his sense of belonging. In fact, Abel has become a man between two cultures, unable to cope with either. In the last section of this reading I argue that Abel's eventual return to his native culture takes the course of a rite of passage. The interpretation is based on a close analysis of the novel's symbolism against the background of Mircea Eliade's studies of initiation ceremonies and religious patterns.
By way of introduction to the tragic effects of identity conflicts among American Indians as Momaday witnessed them at Jemez, it may be best to quote from one of his letters. I have deleted the names of the victims to protect their privacy and that of their families:
Abel is a composite of the boys I knew at Jemez. I wanted to...
(The entire section is 13433 words.)
SOURCE: "N. Scott Momaday: Story Teller," in The Journal of Ethnic Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1, Spring, 1988, pp. 118-26.
[In the following excerpt from an interview conducted in April, 1986, Weiler and Momaday discuss various aspects of House Made of Dawn.]
[Weiler]: I'd like to talk very briefly about your position as an Indian writer. Last semester, I took an undergraduate class in which we read Leslie Silko's Ceremony and Storyteller, and I remember that some of the students had problems with those works. We also read House Made of Dawn, which I think was the last novel, and they found difficulty there, too. They asked the question: "Where is the message [in House Made of Dawn] comparable to that of an angry woman like Leslie Silko, or that found in some of the poems by Joy Harjo and what enables them to take a stand?" The students seemed to be missing this. I remember two years ago in an interview you said that you didn't make social comments. In connection with this "Indian" issue, how do you see yourself?
(The entire section is 2355 words.)
SOURCE: "Bringing Home the Fact: Tradition and Continuity in the Imagination," in Recovering the Word: Essays on Native American Literature, edited by Brian Swann and Arnold Krupat, University of California Press, 1987, pp. 570-78.
[Allen is a Pueblo Laguna and Sioux poet, critic, essayist, novelist, and editor. In the following excerpt, she discusses the inclusion of Navajo and Pueblo beliefs in House Made of Dawn, arguing that Momaday's focus in the novel is sickness, healing, and harmony.]
As familiarity with the Bible makes Western culture accessible to the understanding, the basic texts of the Pueblo or the Navajo make their cultures, especially their literature, accessible to scholarly interpretation. It is a nearly hopeless task to explicate House Made of Dawn without such a familiarity, though an understanding of historical processes in the Southwest and of Western attitudes and lore is also important to this task. The basic meanings important to these American Indian systems are carried over into the book. To be unaware of the meanings of these symbols and their accompanying structures is to miss the greater part of the significance of the novel.
It is not impossible to read this novel when one is not conversant with the underlying symbolic structure, but the reading will result in confusion and distortion of what the writer was up to. It will also probably result...
(The entire section is 3380 words.)
Trimble, Martha Scott. "N. Scott Momaday (1934–)." In Fifty Western Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, edited by Fred Erisman and Richard W. Etulain, pp. 313-24. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982.
Provides an overview of Momaday's life, a discussion of the major themes of his works, critical reception of his writings, and a listing of primary and secondary sources.
Antell, Judith A. "Momaday, Welch, and Silko: Expressing the Feminine Principle through Male Alienation." The American Indian Quarterly XII, No. 3 (Summer 1988): 213-20.
Examines Momaday's House Made of Dawn, James Welch's The Death of Jim Loney, and Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, arguing that their treatment of the alienated Native American male underscores the role and power of Native American women in tribal communities.
Lincoln, Kenneth. "Comic Accommodations: Momaday and Norman." In his Indi'n Humor: Bicultural Play in Native America, pp. 280-308. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Discusses Momaday's use of humor, irony, caricature, and the Trickster figure in House Made of Dawn. This chapter also includes an examination of these and similar elements in Howard Norman's...
(The entire section is 314 words.)