Momaday's story is one of personal reflection, a masterful blend of narration, exposition, and description. He moves among these types of writing seamlessly. By the conclusion of the story, he has told his own story, his grandmother's story, and the history of the Kiowa people, replete with explanations of tribal myth and legend.
Sometimes his tone is straightforward and objective as he relates significant facts; sometimes his tone is intensely emotional, especially when speaking of his grandmother. He says that when she died, "her face was that of a child."
The story begins with a lyrical description of Rainy Mountain. The language is poetic. The summer prairie is "an anvil's edge." The "steaming foliage seems almost to writhe." The grasshoppers are "popping up like corn." Momaday uses simile, metaphor, and personification within the first few lines of his story. They permeate the rest of the story, as well.
The title is in itself significant, suggestive of the story's theme. Momaday doesn't take a trip to Rainy Mountain. He makes his way, in much the same way as his ancestors. His is a symbolic journey, as well as a personal one. When he stands at his grandmother's grave at the narrative's conclusion, he embraces not only her memory, but also his own heritage. His grandmother's grave lies "at the end of a long and legendary way . . . ." Momaday writes, "I saw the mountain and came away." He has changed in a significant way.