Setting

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

In his preface, La Farge explains that he chose to set the novel in an earlier time, before the first automobiles came to the Navajo...

(The entire section is 387 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The novel develops chronologically from the omniscient narrator's point of view, shifting easily to a character's inner thoughts. In a few...

(The entire section is 108 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Written in 1929, Laughing Boy in many ways foreshadowed the change in social consciousness about Native Americans that has occurred...

(The entire section is 146 words.)

Bibliography

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Dennis, Philip A. “Oliver La Farge, Writer and Anthropologist.” In Literature and Anthropology, edited by Philip Dennis and Wendell Aycock. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1989. Profiles La Farge as both a writer and an anthropologist, detailing how each discipline complemented the other.

Gillis, Everett A. “Oliver La Farge.” In A Literary History of the American West. Western Literature Association. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1987. Gillis traces the career of La Farge as a southwestern writer.

Hecht, Robert A. Oliver La Farge and the American Indian: A Biography. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1991. A thorough biography that focuses on La Farge’s depiction of the Indian world, its social conditions, and La Farge’s role in it as an authority on American Indian culture.

Krefft, James H. “A Possible Source for Faulkner’s Indians: Oliver La Farge’s Laughing Boy.” Tulane Studies in English 23 (1978): 187-192. Speculates that William Faulkner’s portrayal of Indian characters was influenced by La Farge’s Laughing Boy.

La Farge, Oliver. Yellow Sun, Bright Sky: The Indian Country Stories of Oliver La Farge. Edited by David L. Caffey. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1988. A collection of short stories spanning from 1927 to La Farge’s death. The collection reflects La Farge’s change from a pessimistic to more positive viewpoint regarding the survival of Native American cultures. Caffey’s introduction presents a useful biographical sketch of La Farge.

McNickle, D’Arcy. Indian Man: A Life of Oliver La Farge. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1971. A critical biography that was nominated for a National Book Award.

Pearce, Thomas M. Oliver La Farge. New York: Twayne, 1972. Pearce provides a critical and interpretive study of La Farge, with a close reading of his major works, a solid bibliography, and complete notes and references.

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Laughing Boy's narrative of the Utes in chapter 8 explains how he got his name. Discuss what it clarifies about his character and about...

(The entire section is 207 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Analyze the aesthetic qualities in Navajo life as they are revealed in the characters' speech and activities.

2. Compare the...

(The entire section is 109 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The Enemy Gods covers much of the same ground as Laughing Boy. Like Slim Girl, the Navajo hero Myron Begay has been removed...

(The entire section is 58 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Gillis, Everett A. Oliver La Farge. Southwest Writers Series. Austin: Steck- Vaughan, 1967. This pamphlet places La Farge in his...

(The entire section is 79 words.)