As a work of historical fiction, Sing Down the Moon offers the reader valuable knowledge of two little known segments of U.S. history: the practice of enslaving young American Indian women and the forced relocation of the Navahos. The sufferings of the Navaho people are the sufferings of Bright Morning as she watches the old and weak die and the men lose their will.
The plot of the novel is episodic rather than causally related, and the unity of the book comes through the personality of the main character rather than through a tightly structured plot. Through Bright Morning, the reader learns about Navaho customs and way of life. Bright Morning reflects the beliefs of her people and explains her role in the womanhood ceremony and the marriage ceremony. Her love of her land is evidenced by her description of the canyons, mesas, and rivers. The historical and cultural import of the novel, however, is superseded by the development of Bright Morning from a girl to a woman. It is her strength of character that sustains her through the hardships of her two captivities and her hope that ultimately brings her back to the land that she loves.
Although Tall Boy is the strong character at the beginning of the story, his injury and his powerlessness in captivity weaken him. Bright Morning, on the other hand, gains strength and determination through her experiences. Her first escape is arranged by Nehana, but the second escape Bright Morning...
(The entire section is 503 words.)