Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 231
The 1986 novel Fools Crow was written by Montana-born, Native American author James Welch, who is also known for his book The Heartsong of Charging Elk. Set in Montana in the years following the American Civil War, it tells the tale of a Blackfoot Indian named White Man's Dog and the changes his society faces with the arrival of settlers from the east.
The novel opens with extended indirect exposition. In the novel's first sentence, we are immediately introduced to the protagonist, White Man's Dog, and given a descriptive introduction to his surroundings.
Now that the weather had changed, the moon of the falling leaves turned white in the blackening sky and White Man's Dog is restless.
Much of the novel contains rich imagery. The characters are discreet in what they say, and dialog is limited. In chapter six, White Man's Dog argues with Fast Horse, who censures him:
So you think I am incapable of keeping my word? You think Fast Horse has become a weakling, without honor?
Welch also uses the text of the novel to provide anthropological information on the lives of the society in which his characters live. At one important moment, Heavy Shield Woman declares she will serve as a Medicine Woman. The novel explains that self-appointment to this role is atypical:
If she failed, it would bring dishonor on them and disfavor from Sun Chief himself.
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