Red Earth, White Earth

by Will Weaver

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Red Earth, White Earth

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 265

Guy Pehrsson, Mary Ann Hartmeir, and Tom Little Wolf grow up together on White Earth, an Indian reservation in Minnesota, sharing secrets and experiences common to many young people. When their paths diverge, each must find a way to come to terms with the legacy of the land.

The plot is set in motion when Guy, who now owns an electronics company in California, is called back to his childhood home in Minnesota in 1984 by a terse communique from his aged grandfather. Guy leaves his luxurious, art-filled house in Silicon Valley and drives his Mercedes back to his past. He finds that his father is drinking heavily, his mother has gone to live with another man, the farm is in decline, and the Indians want to reassume control of land that was once theirs. Guy is again thrown together with his childhood friends, Mary Ann, who married a crude ruffian, and Tom, his Indian “blood brother,” who has become a lawyer and returned to the area in order to help his people regain their land and their self-respect.

Will Weaver presents his characters in nonjudgmental fashion, allowing the reader to draw his own conclusions about their motives and the justness of their actions. Several Indian stories interspersed in the narrative counterpoint the skills of the oral storyteller with the craft of the novelist.

Weaver, winner of the prestigious McKnight Foundation Prize for Creative Prose, exhibits a masterful control of language, from the rough speech with which children love to experiment to the lyrical descriptions which anchor this novel in the timeless realities of the land.

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