What is the importance of storytelling in Medicine Walk?

Storytelling is important in Medicine Walk because it provides a means of connecting with others. Eldon's life is full of tragedies, and not sharing those stories of loss and heartache eventually isolates him. Becka Charlie believes in the significance of storytelling, telling Franklin, "it's all we are in the end. Our stories."

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In Medicine Walk, storytelling is seen as a means of connecting with others. Eldon prefers to keep his stories to himself, believing that the pain inherent in recalling his life's tragedies is too burdensome to relive.

Some of the most intimate memories of Eldon's childhood were the evenings he spent with his mother; the stories she read aloud to him at night were "the stuff of his childhood ... the recollections he stored within himself." Unfortunately, an abusive man was also attracted to her storytelling and the way "the dreams [were] made real by the shifts of tone, emphasis, and ... almost painful pauses." Jenks, who would become his mother's abuser, tarnished the beauty of storytelling for Eldon. Eldon was soon displaced from his mother's life and forever separated from the intimacy that they had shared.

When he met Angie, Eldon was once again captivated by the power of stories. Bunky told Eldon that Angie could "spin [stories] right outta the air." Angie shared with Eldon the stories of her own personal pain and asked Eldon to do the same. In this request, Angie longed for a deeper connection with Eldon. She wanted to share his joys and his burdens and longed to be a trusted source of emotional support. Eldon refused to convey his deepest regrets to Angie. Because the pain of his past could not be erased, Eldon tried to drown that grief with alcohol, forgetting the past one night at a time instead of remembering.

In this work, the characters who live their lives with the greatest sense of purpose and fulfillment are those who are willing to share their stories. Franklin is able to know something about his mother through Eldon's final stories, and this connection to her provides a sense of peace that he has always lacked. Becka Charlie views Eldon's decision to share his stories with his son as a "brave" moment in his life. Though his legacy isn't one of perseverance or of unflinching character, Eldon does leave his son with an honest narration of his life. Becka believes this is the most important thing Eldon could ever do, because "it's all we are in the end. Our stories."

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