House Made of Dawn: the Use of Language

Topics: Language, Native Americans in the United States, Puerto Rico Pages: 3 (1098 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Painting of Language Throughout House Made of Dawn Momaday forces the reader to see a clear distinction between how white people and Native Americans use language. Momaday calls it the written word, the white people's word, and the spoken word, the Native American word. The white people's spoken word is so rigidly focused on the fundamental meaning of each word that is lacks the imagery of the Native American word. It is like listening to a contact being read aloud. Momaday clearly shows how the Native American word speaks beyond its sound through Tosamah speaking of his Grandmother. Tosamah says, "You see, for her words were medicine; they were magic and invisible. They came from nothing into sound and meaning. They were beyond price; they could neither be bought nor sold. And she never threw words away." --Pg. 85 Momaday forces upon the reader the idea of language as a remedy for sickness; not only of the mind, but of the heart, also. If a speaker can reach a listener and show the listener what she means, then that is the most honorable achievement. Momaday wants the reader to know the importance of word weaving, of weaving the words to form a beautiful picture that can heal souls if spoken correctly. Momaday believes that the Native Americans who never bothered to learn to read and write, those who depend on their words, are those whose words are most powerful. The love for words, spoken with passion, makes them take on a three-dimensional quality. The words become the images and show a listener instead of telling, making the moment an experience instead of just a moment. The listener can feel what the speaker is trying to say; there is no need for interpretation, everything is already understood. Momaday convinces the reader that the spoken language goes beyond what words are being said; the words become their meaning, transcend into complete understanding and clarity. The experience should be remembered as one of self-revelation and...
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