The Way to Rainy Mountain

by N. Scott Momaday

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How was Momaday’s grandmother able to describe people she had never seen and places she had never been in The Way to Rainy Mountain?

In The Way to Rainy Mountain, Momaday's grandmother is able to describe people she has never seen and places to which she has never been because the landscape of the continental interior lies like memory in her blood.

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By anyone's standards, Momaday's grandmother is a truly remarkable woman. With her extraordinary stock of Native American history, folklore, and mythology, she represents a living link between the tribe's past and present.

What makes this all the more remarkable is the fact that she's lived out her whole life in the shadow of Rainy Mountain. As such, although she talks of the Crows, she's never seen them. And despite talking of the Black Hills, she's never been there.

Momaday's grandmother is able to do this because “the immense landscape of the continental interior” lies like a memory in her blood. The implication is that the old lady has a deep, almost mystical connection to the land of her ancestors that enables her to see in her mind's eye what other people can only see face-to-face.

One also gets the impression that Momaday's grandmother has imbibed the stories handed down to her, stories that have been handed down from generation to generation, and which together form the basis of Kiowa cultural memory.

In any case, Momaday, in embarking upon his epic journey hopes to be able to see in reality what the mind's eye of his grandmother was always able to see with such remarkable clarity.

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