Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 387
Hobbs presents the story of a young man searching for and finding his identity in a world foreign to the tenets of his upbringing. As such it follows the pattern of most rite of passage novels: it contains the requisite portrait of the young male struggling against the confinement imposed on him by a narrow- minded society, his rejection of its standards, and his eventual development of a personal philosophy that increases his understanding of the world and his place in it. Along the way, he must also confront the idea (or the reality) of evil existing in the world, evaluate and invent his own belief system, and face a series of challenges or perform a number of tasks in order to gain the prize—self-confidence and validation.
Hobbs treats issues important to many young people—feelings of isolation, the struggle to discover what is good and what is evil in the world, the need for love and acceptance, the need to feel successful at something—and he also incorporates a strong focus on the conflicts that arise between varied cultures' beliefs. In this story the protagonist, Cloyd, is a fourteen-year-old Ute raised primarily by his grandmother after his mother dies in childbirth and his father deserts him. He spends his days roaming the hills, herding his grandmother's goats and developing a deep appreciation for nature, especially nature as it is viewed through traditional Native American eyes. However, because he skips school and does not respond satisfactorily to enforced educational and civilizing influences, he is deemed incorrigible by society and "sentenced" to spend time living under supervised conditions—in what the social worker calls a "group home." Cloyd chafes even more under this regimen, and he ultimately runs away in search of his father. But instead of finding the father he believes will save him from the white people's lifestyle, Cloyd is eventually taken to live on a ranch with Walter—an elderly, white rancher—who has agreed to keep him for the summer in exchange for help with the chores. The character of Walter provides Hobbs with the opportunity to explore the contrasts and the similarities between youth and age, Indian and white man, dreams and responsibilities. The values brought out by Hobbs will prove recognizable to most young people and to many adults as well.
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