Saturday, March 3, 2012

Laughing Boy (Pulitzer Winning Novel)

Laughing Boy won the 1930 Pulitzer Prize for the novel and was made into a movie in 1934. It is a story about love and the affect of the “Americans”—the whites—on the Native American culture.

Briefly, Laughing Boy is a carefree young Navajo and a talented silversmith. At a dance he falls in love with Slim Girl. His family warns him that she is a bad girl, but he still runs away with her. They are married and go to live in the white town where Slim Girl has been living. In the beginning, Slim Girl wants to gain power over Laughing Boy and use him. When she was young, she was taken away from her parents and forced to give up her Native American ways. She sees Laughing Boy as a means to regaining her power. Eventually, she comes to love him. She learns to weave and gradually takes part in the Navajo ceremonies that Laughing Boy so loves. But, he knows that Slim Girl has secrets. The end of the story is both tragic and beautiful.

I had a hard time getting into the story. I don’t know whether it was me or the book. Yet, I feel a bit haunted by the book, imaging what it must have been like to be a child ripped away from ones culture and never feeling like one fit in.

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