The narrator seems hopeless. The reader must decide whether it is bad luck or bad judgment that plagues him. A recurring symbol of his frustration is his belief that the river has no fish in it, a conviction he holds in spite of the many locals and tourists who insist that they catch fish in the river all the time.
That the narrator continues both to fish and to believe that the river is barren is a paradox that perfectly combines the senses of perseverance and of doom that characterize him. The combination is useful, however, in the pursuit of his grandmother’s tragic story. For uncovering the act of kindness Yellow Calf had performed, the narrator is rewarded with the truth about his heritage.
Teresa is both a caring and a callous mother. She killed Amos, the duck who won the family’s heart by surviving a grisly accident, but served him for a special Christmas dinner. She reinforces the notion that even sources of nurturing, such as the land and one’s precious memories, can be brutal. Her marriage contributes to a feeling evoked throughout the book that the glory of the past can never be fully recovered. In place of the dramatic and powerful First Raise, Teresa has the unremarkable Lame Bull. The union of Teresa and Lame Bull, however, shows the narrator that personal tragedy can be overcome, that life goes on.
The old woman, like her grandson, is never called by name. This shared emptiness links the narrator and his...
(The entire section is 567 words.)