What challenges did early humans face in the book Reindeer Moon?

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The novel Reindeer Moon tells the story of prehistoric people struggling to survive in a world before civilization. There are some common issues that the people in the novel face that reflect what prehistoric humanity typically encountered.

Some of the biggest challenges relate to a lack of medicine and technology. Hunting is done with primitive tools, and there is no form of speedy transportation. Additionally, many people suffered from illnesses or injuries without aid from medicine.

Because of the lack of medicine, infant and mother mortality rates were through the roof. This led to a smaller population and frequent demise, which was taxing on the people.

Finally, a small population and an unstable population mean there is a lack of community support. Communities help to protect one another and improve quality of life for everyone. When there is no possibility for the community to grow, it is difficult to maintain support and strength, which presents many difficulties for the people.

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In order to survive in such a harsh environment, it was necessary for early humans to form themselves into groups. Only in this way could they mitigate the ever-present dangers of famine, attacks by wild animals, and regular clashes with their rivals over food and territory. For early man, the group provided a sense of solidarity and security that helped to ensure not just the survival of this generation but also the next.

The downsides of this group structure are illustrated by the particulars of Yanan's life. She finds herself caught up in the middle of an internecine squabble between rival members of her group that eventually leads to her being expelled. Cast out into the cold and darkness, Yanan has no choice but to join another group if she's to stay alive.

As with every other member of prehistoric society, Yanan's whole identity is almost completely defined by her role within the group. And she is confronted by the constant struggle to carve out such a role for herself amidst the endless tensions that regularly break out among the group's members.

Unlike in modern society, where it's possible for most people to live their lives outside of group structures (and their complex, often restrictive dynamics), in prehistoric society, that simply isn't possible. And so Yanan must define herself within a group, an especially burdensome task that is literally a matter of life and death.

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Reindeer Moon tells the story of human beings during the Stone Age through the experiences of Yanan, a girl who becomes a woman and later dies during childbirth. The story offers a glimpse into the lives of people living during the Stone Age, the challenges they faced and triumphs they achieved. Yanan’s mother dies during childbirth and so does the baby a few days later. She suffers a similar fate in what is seen as a cycle of death during that period.

In the story, the early human beings suffered from several challenges, which include:

High maternal and infant mortality - The early humans lacked the know-how to deal with pregnancy-related complications. This led to an increase in deaths among pregnant women, new mothers and their newborns or infants, as was the case with Yanan’s mother.

Poor medical practices - The early humans also suffered from poor medical practices as a result of insufficient medical knowledge. Yanan’s father died from an infected animal bite, which could have been prevented if adequately handled.

Unstable populations - Due to insufficient or poor medical practices, diseases, conflicts and lack of food, the groups were unable to maintain stable populations essential for survival during the period. The remaining people were forced to travel long distances to merge with other groups for survival.

Lack of technology - They lacked technology as seen in their inability to store food. Most of their food supplies if not consumed immediately were left to rot, forcing the groups to spend most of their time hunting for more food.

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