Winter in the Blood intertwines the narrator’s tale of passage from a boy to a man with the mysterious story of his grandmother’s role in the Blackfeet tribe’s tragic past. The book consists of four sections of varied lengths and a brief epilogue.
Winter in the Blood begins as the narrator returns home from a drunken escapade to find that Agnes, the woman with whom he has been living, is gone and has stolen his gun and electric razor. Attempting to forget about the woman and his things, the narrator helps his mother and Lame Bull with the ranch chores. Lame Bull marries Teresa, making him an owner of the ranch, a role into which he throws himself with relish.
Teresa’s marriage triggers the narrator’s memory of his father and brother’s deaths. He talks with Teresa about First Raise and is disturbed by the fact that she remembers their life together much differently than he does. Teresa further uproots her son by telling him that there is no work for him on the ranch now that Lame Bull is in charge. When Agnes is spotted in Malta, the narrator decides to go after her. As his thoughts return to Agnes, he makes the reader aware of his grandmother’s reasons for hating the young woman. Once the youngest wife of a Blackfeet chief, the grandmother hates Crees for what she believes to be their treachery. Crees had scouted for the cavalry, the Long Knives, who chased the Blackfeet from their home at the base of the mountains. The narrator repeats his grandmother’s story of a winter of starvation and the death of her husband. She was cast out by the tribe in mourning for their chief. The narrator believes his grandmother when she says that the women of the tribe envied her beauty. He also believes the rumor that a half-breed drifter with whom his grandmother settled down wasn’t his real grandfather.
The narrator temporarily sets aside his grandmother’s story and catches a ride to Dodson, a nearby town with a bus stop. The narrator travels on to Malta,...
(The entire section is 823 words.)