Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 223
In Sundown, John Joseph Mathews tells the story of oil in the Osage. The author uses real and fictitious information to tell the story. Challenge, the main character, was born at the start of the 20th century in Oklahama. He went to college and served in the military as a pilot. The author shares this historical background because Oklahoma’s oil boom occurred within the first 20 years of the 1900s. After the discovery of oil, many white people migrated to the region, which was in the Indian Territory. The entry of white people into this territory led to various social, cultural, and economic changes among the Osage.
The author reveals that oil is often associated with prosperity but can be an impediment to development. He shows the reader the adverse impacts modernity can have on different cultures. In the book, oil destabilizes the traditions of the Osage and causes increased poverty among the locals, because the white people are the main beneficiaries.
Furthermore, according to the author, the exploration of oil was beneficial, but it happened at the expense of the environment. For instance, Challenge realizes that he has not seen wild turkeys for a long time. Moreover, he hardly hears wolves howling. These adverse impacts after the discovery of oil imply that modernity occurs at the expense of the environment and culture.