The Way to Rainy Mountain

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The Way to Rainy Mountain

The title of N. Scott Momaday's "The Way to Rainy Mountain" encapsulates the theme of a journey that permeates the story. In the story, a young man journeys to the grave of his grandmother along the same route that her people, the Kiowas, took across America before settling on the southern Plains. The young man's grandmother had never undergone the journey that she so often told stories about, and yet she seemed to have experienced it through the memories of others that had been passed down to her. She seemed to see the journey even more vividly than her grandson, who had actually undergone the journey. The way to rainy mountain was a long and hard one for the Kiowa people. Despite the hardship, they became stronger along the way, learning new skills, and gaining a new religion. The young man's way to rainy mountain also taught him many things. The journey gave him a greater understanding of the 1,500 mile long pilgrimage undertaken by the Kiowa and a mental picture of the places described by his grandmother. The grandmother's journey was a journey of the mind. She learned of the great pilgrimage through the stories and memories of others. They took on a form that was quite lifelike to her though she had never experienced them in person. All of the journeys in the story had their ending at Rainy Mountain. For the young man, his journey ended at his Grandmother's grave. He looked back once to see the Rainy Mountain, and that was the end of his journey. For his grandmother her journey ended where it began, at the Rainy Mountain. She was born there, saw the last sun dance of the Kiowa there, and died there. The journey of the Kiowa also ended at Rainy Mountain. It was there that the Kiowa society reached its height before the deicide of 1890. Everyone has their Rainy Mountain, the end of their journey, but it is the way to Rainy Mountain that really matters.
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