In the context of The Plague of Doves, how is sexuality treated differently in the Ojibwa and Christian religious traditions? What do the respective attitudes toward sex represent as they concern core differences in the two worldviews?

When examining how Christian and Ojibwa attitudes about sex are reflected in the novel, one should be careful not to regurgitate harmful stereotypes. With that being said, one could argue that Evelina's mix of Ojibwa and Catholicism appears in her conflicting feelings for both Corwin Peace and Sister Mary Anita. Conversely, one could argue that the Christian-like need to confine and regulate passions manifests in Billy Peace and his emphasis on "discipline."

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One of the main ways in which we see Louise Erdrich showcase the different sexual attitudes in The Plague of Doves is through Evelina and Billy Peace.

Let's start with how the novel starts: Evelina. Does Evelina seem to have a strong, pronounced sexuality? Perhaps sexuality is too overt a...

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One of the main ways in which we see Louise Erdrich showcase the different sexual attitudes in The Plague of Doves is through Evelina and Billy Peace.

Let's start with how the novel starts: Evelina. Does Evelina seem to have a strong, pronounced sexuality? Perhaps sexuality is too overt a word. Yet she does seem passionate. Two people, in particular, seem to have Evelina in a tizzy.

One of those is Sister Mary Anita. Her teacher's presence seems to connect to feelings of love or, at the very least, a deep crush. "I wrote letters, tore them up. My hand shook when Sister passed me in the aisle and my eyes closed," Evelina confesses. "Fire shot through my limbs." At one point, she asks Sister Mary Anita to run away together.

Yet Evelina also is romantically involved with Corwin Peace. What happens the day after Easter Monday? Evelina kisses him.

In the context of race and religion, we might see how Evelina's tumultuous feelings support Judge Coutts's opinion that the "entire reservation is rife with conflicting passions."

We might see Evelina's "conflicting passions" as a result of her being "mixed." In one way, we might think of Evelina acting on her passions as a lack of discipline that some might associate with Christianity. We could also talk about Evelina coming to terms with her feelings as lack of repression that some might associate with Christianity. Evelina doesn't try to suffocate or bury her feelings. She confronts them.

We see Christianity's stringency when Marn talks about Billy's belief in "a discipline of the afflictions." We also see Billy's adherence to rules and regulations in his "Manual of Discipline."

Yet we should be careful not to conflate Billy with Christianity proper. We might argue that Billy links to a confined, cult-ish, regulated worldview that centers one person (in Billy's case, it's Billy). We should be careful not to reinforce derogatory stereotypes about Christians. Not everyone practices Christianity the same. With Billy, he may not even be practicing any kind of Christianity at all. As Marn says, “There was no God after Billings, no savior, for instance, by Minneapolis.”

Lastly, we should be on guard about perpetuating stereotypes about Ojibwa beliefs. We might say that Evelina's less confined and more open desires reflect something about the more abstract, multifaceted nature of Ojibwa culture. Yet remember: Evelina is just one person.

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