Barbara Corcoran EUGENE S. RAVE and BERYL C. GILLESPIE - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Loner is a typical example of a book with a Native American as a minor character supplying a mystical aura to a conventional adventure tale. A tenderfoot hunter is obsessed with killing a marauding wolverine—an effort that will humble the man eventually as he sees how ill-advised and how futile it is to challenge nature in a fit of temper. But in handling this conservationist theme, the author felt it necessary to invent elaborate Native American superstitions and to depict a stereotyped Native American.

The Indian guide is portrayed as contemptible, callously abandoning the white hunter to a likely death. The guide is also full of silly superstitions, and his English is the common Hollywood variety….

It's hard to imagine that the author actually found an Indian story that claims wolverines are killed by Indians only if they have a silver bullet. Indians kill wolverines for their valuable pelts whenever they can. The setting is the Alaskan wilderness, but for some unfathomable reason the guide is a Cree Indian, not a member of any Alaskan Indian nation.

Eugene S. Rave and Beryl C. Gillespie, "'The Loner: A Story of the Wolverine'," in Interracial Books for Children Bulletin (reprinted by permission of Interracial Books for Children Bulletin, 1841 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10023), Vol. 10, No. 5, 1979, p. 17.∗