How does The Way to Rainy Mountain motivate one to pursue the American Dream?

N. Scott Momaday's The Way to Rainy Mountain does not advocate the usual definition of the American Dream as social mobility and progress in wealth. Rather, it redefines the American Dream as the ability to move forward into the future while remaining grounded and strengthened by one's traditional past.

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The answer to this question will depend on how one defines the American Dream. For many people, this concept refers to upward mobility, to personal progress in wealth and class, and to the opportunity to fulfill of one's goals no matter where one begins in life.

If we define the American Dream like this, N. Scott Momaday's The Way to Rainy Mountain has little to do with such an objective. The Kiowa people were and are not focused on upward mobility, personal progress, or the fulfillment of goals. Rather, they were once forced from their land, deprived of their tradition of buffalo hunting, and almost divested of their culture. Their attention, according to Momaday's account, is on the preservation of their history, their personal and cultural memories, their stories, and their customs even in the midst of a hostile world. Indeed, Momaday's book strives toward this goal, for it presents many of the tribe's tales and myths as well as the recollections of his grandmother and his own personal memories of his people.

If we adjust the meaning of the American Dream a bit, though, to include an appreciation for one's heritage that allows one to move into the future fully grounded in the past, then we can receive special inspiration from Momaday's book as we pursue our own versions of the American Dream. The Way to Rainy Mountain encourages us to know the traditions of our own people, even though we live in a different culture that doesn't always respect those traditions. It invites us to ground ourselves in our own stories of the past, that they may inspire us to succeed in the future without forgetting where we came from in our striving to get where we want to go.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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