Why does Russel go to Oogruk's house at the beginning of "Dogsong"?

Russel goes to Oogruk's house at the beginning of "Dogsong" because something is bothering him and he needs help. As his father is unable to offer him any assistance, he recommends that Russel go to see Oogruk, who has the reputation of a wise man who tells good stories.

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As with many young people his age, Russel finds there's something bothering him. To make matters worse, he doesn't quite know what it is. Russel's father can see there's something bothering his son, but unfortunately, he lacks the knowledge to be able to help him. So Russel must get help from someplace else.

But where? Russel's father says that when he has troubles he doesn't understand, he sometimes gets help from Jesus Christ. But as Russel doesn't have Jesus in his life, that's not going to work.

So Russel's father recommends that he go visit Oogruk, an old man who lives nearby. Apparently, Oogruk is sometimes wise and tells good stories. Sometimes, as Russel's father readily concedes, the old man's words don't make a whole lot of sense, but the song he sings most certainly does. Words can lie, but the song is always true. And if Russel listens to Oogruk's song, then he will learn much from the old man.

In this particular culture, a song is private and belongs only to the person who sings it. Even so, Russel is keen to know if Oogruk will give him a song when he goes to visit him. His father replies that this for Oogruk to know. But for now, Russel's father instructs his son to take the old man some meat as a gift.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 23, 2021
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