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You included theme as a tag, but did not ask about it in your question. A theme is a unifying idea, message, or main point. This story is about Native Americans and their alienation and isolation. Native Americans strongly valued nature. It was a big part of their culture and religion. Throughout the story, Whitehead uses nature in a metaphorical way to draw out this feeling of loneliness. Consider the first line.
There is a moon out tonight. Moons and stars and cloud tipped with moonlight. And there is a fall wind blowing in my heart. Ever since this evening, when against a fading sky I saw geese wedge southward. They were going home. . . . Now I try to study, but against the pages I see them again, driving southward. Going home. (see last link, p. 1)
There is a feeling of sorrow and longing hear, a comparison between the geese who have a home and the speaker who longs for it.
In my Wisconsin, the leaves change before the snows come. In the air is the smell of wild rice and venison cooking; and when the winds come whispering through the forests, they carry the smell of rotting leaves. In the evenings, the loon calls, lonely; and birds sing their last songs before leaving. (p. 1)
This quote also stands out to me because of the use of the words “my Wisconsin” to describe nature. The author is connecting with nature, but also demonstrating the disconnection the speaker now feels. Like many young immigrants, the speaker feels torn between the world he now exists in and the one he left behind.
That land which is my home! Beautiful, calm--where there is no hurry to get anywhere, no driving to keep up in a race that knows no ending and no goal. No classes where men talk and talk and then stop now and then to hear their own words come back to them from the students. No constant peering into the maelstrom of one's mind; no worries about grades and honors; no hysterical preparing for life until that life is half over; no anxiety about one's place in the thing they call Society. (p. 1)
This paragraph is a particularly damning condemnation of society. The speaker compares the chaos of the modern world to the one he left behind.
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