As Matt and Attean walk out of Attean’s village the morning after their bear-hunt celebration, Matt is overcome by curiosity about life in the village. Attean's village, at one level, represents for Matt a warmth and sanctuary he has been missing since his father left to bring back the rest...
As Matt and Attean walk out of Attean’s village the morning after their bear-hunt celebration, Matt is overcome by curiosity about life in the village. Attean's village, at one level, represents for Matt a warmth and sanctuary he has been missing since his father left to bring back the rest of his family. Therefore, Matt is endlessly fascinated by the sights and sounds around him. Apart from that, Matt’s growing admiration for Attean and his tribe make him want to know more about the tribe’s day-to-day life. Although the questions Matt wants to ask Attean are never openly expressed, we can take a guess at some of them.
For example, Matt might want to know what the women around them are grinding in their mortars. He would want to know why the Indians themselves “had discarded the splendor of the night before,” taking off their fine, gorgeous garments for ordinary, dull clothes. Since he can see that the village has both bark cabins and wigwam tents, he could want to know which people in the village live in which dwelling. He would want to know how a day in the village pans out, and why women do not participate in the hunt. He would also want to know why he had slept alone in his wigwam the night before, and perhaps also why Attean’s grandmother did not seem as warm towards Matt as his grandfather.
Matt’s deeper engagement with the Native Americans and empathy about their perspective would also lead him to question the state of poverty to which the tribe has been relegated. Could white settlers like Matt’s family be responsible for the displacement and impoverishment of the Native Americans? Had white settlers taken over the “hunting grounds” of tribes like Attean’s? Thus, the text suggests that as Matt and Attean move to the canoe, Matt’s unspoken questions range from practical queries to larger, more uncomfortable inquiries.