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The Surrounded

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  469 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
As "The Surrounded " opens, Archilde Le n has just returned from the big city to his father's ranch on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. The story that unfolds captures the intense and varied conflict that already characterized reservation life in 1936, when this remarkable novel was first published.

Educated at a federal Indian boarding school, Archilde is torn n
Paperback, 297 pages
Published February 1st 1978 by University of New Mexico Press
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Dwellers of Ahwahnee by Sheryl SealBeyond Bridalveil Fall by Sheryl SealBeyond Oria Falls by Sheryl SealBeyond the World of Man by Sheryl SealThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
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47th out of 195 books — 130 voters
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253rd out of 588 books — 537 voters

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Jul 08, 2011 Lyndon rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Note: What follows is an extensive analysis of The Surrounded, and a portion of an essay I wrote for my college class on multicultural lit. I got an A on this paper, but can not be responsible for your grade if you plagiarize! ;)

Written in 1936 this novel tells the story of Archilde, a young Native American man caught in the clash of cultures typical of early reservation life. Although I read it in a college literature course, the reading level and content are appropriate for any high school lan
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Mark Valentine
Mar 02, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it it was amazing
I found this to be a brave exploration on living in between two cultures and opting for the one with the strongest pull toward identity. Archilde Leon, the protagonist, is a young man, mission-school raised, returning to his homeland in Montana; he is of mixed heritage (Kootenai-Salish and Spanish descent) and he is trying to find his way when he finds himself caught in an extraordinary experience in which he must decide what to do.

It also explores the clash between Catholicism and Native-Americ
English Education
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 01, 2016 Kellen rated it liked it
This is an earlier and classic example of American Indian literature that tackled the "half-breed" idea pretty early on. As an aside, the "half-breed" torn between the two cultures -- white and tribal -- is a very, very common trope in American Indian culture and in fiction books about American Indians written by white authors. Anyway, while not my favorite, I thought it did a really nice, understated job of depicting reservation life against the backdrop of residential schools, poverty, and pos ...more
Aug 13, 2015 Myth rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, classics, history
I was encouraged to give this book a read by my friend who's doing her thesis on it. I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast with Alexie Sherman's book. I was able to find some vague similarities. I bought this book pre-owned. The condition of the book was a bit worse than I expected. The previous owner marked it up with underlines and notes, so it kind of interrupted the reading experience.

I guess it looks like something only a college student could read, because I was asked i
Aug 03, 2011 Matthew rated it it was amazing
I really liked The Surrounded. It's very lit-heavy, and it fits quite nicely with other "required reading" of the time. Except this one has somehow filtered out of scholarly concious. McNickle gives a raw impression of Salish life ... and while I'm quick to question the authenticity of some of the portrayals, I believe that there is a real passion in this novel.

There is a lot going on here as well. From criticism of Christianity to a preservation of the old traditions to murder, the Leon family
Lydia Presley
Oct 20, 2012 Lydia Presley rated it it was amazing
The Surrounded by D'Arcy McNickle is a heartaching story of the Salish Indians who were forced into a place of "in-between" through the conversion of the tribe to the Catholic faith and the loss of their reservation land, through sale, to the white man.

The narrative follows Archilde, the second to youngest son of Max Leon, a Spaniard, and Catharine, a Salish woman. Archilde is one of seven sons - each of whom has chosen to live in a sort of disregard for the traditions and desires of Max.

Virginia Myers

I really do not want to "rate" this book. I am a fan of historical fiction and books that are about American history really make a hit with me. I hardly ever find one that I do not enjoy in some fashion although some leave a more lasting pleasure. When I saw a summary of this book, I was sure I would enjoy reading it. Now for me to "enjoy" a book - I would not have previously believed it needed to provide me with a sense of well being or happiness. I have contended before that all it takes for m
Michelle Boyer
To begin, this book is marketed as one of if not the best pice of American Indian literature ever written. While it was certainly among the first, and paved the way for contemporary AI authors, I humbly disagree that this is one of the best pieces of AI lit ever written. Unfortunately, the plot is slow, boring, and really hard to engage with (and this is coming from an American Indian literature Ph.D. student).

Clearly, this is one of the novels you have to trudge through in order to understand
Feb 07, 2012 Mark added it
Recommends it for: anyone who prizes great writing
I started reading The Surrounded in May of 2009 and have not gone back to it since about page 27 or so. My first impressions are extremely favorable. I will not get back to it, though, until closer to November when we discuss it for the Branigan BookClub.

This is one of the books for the Branigan Book Club in November 2010. The other one is The Big Sky by A.B.Guthrie

It's now February 2012 and I finished the book a long time ago. What follows is not shouting, but enthusiasm. This book was
Feb 23, 2013 Riki rated it it was ok
I read this book as a requirement for class this semester and have to admit that it was difficult to get into. Even after the story began to pick up midway through, I just couldn't get past how utterly depressing the novel is. The Surrounded begins with Archilde Leon returning to his home reservation in Montana after being away in the city of Portland for some time. He returns to his family with a skewed outlook on his heritage and struggles to find meaning in the lives of his family. As he spen ...more
Dec 25, 2010 Katie rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
This book was assigned for the Native American Studies class I was assisting this term. As a teaching tool for understanding many of the issues related to Native American history, I would say this book is excellent. It brings together a lot of important themes related to federal Indian policy, racism, religion, identity and assimilation. Illustrating some of these concepts through story always makes the abstract more concrete and easier for students to make sense of.

As a pleasure read, it was l
May 16, 2016 Rebecca rated it really liked it
All of McNickle's characters in this novel are complex, and most are not easily judged. This is particularly important because of McNickle's fidelity to historical accuracy. He depicts the cultural clashes playing out in the aftermath of the establishment of Reservations for Native Americans. Themes also include identity, family, and questions of justice.
Mar 18, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it
I hesitate to write a review of this book because anything I say will fall short of its impact. The surrounded is seen as a core work in Native American literature and rightly so. The book is well-written with characters who are both somehow flawed, and yet remarkably sympathetic. In other words, the characters are as real as the people we live with everyday. That may be their appeal. Yet, at the same time, McNickle manages to infuse so much of the culture of his characters, both NatAm and not, ...more
Sep 21, 2010 Jeanette rated it it was ok
Read this book for a book club. There were many times I definitely felt like this was assigned reading. It wasn't the most boring book in the world, but it was hard to stay involved in the story. Though I believe the author is indeed very intellectual and knowledgeable about the subject at hand, he is not the best writer. Nevertheless, it is an interesting premise. The protagonist, Archilde, was fairly unpredictable and his dilemma was certainly sound; a heart torn in two, or, in Archilde's case ...more
Jan 26, 2014 Danielle rated it really liked it
This was a great read, especially for the comp list. McNickle's narrative about the life of a young man dealing with the culture and life changes resulting from manifest destiny culture clash was compelling. The combination of agency and ambivalent destiny made this a tale of contradictions. Very interesting.
Jul 27, 2011 Cal rated it really liked it
Interesting story, very easy to read. I thought it was particularly interesting because it was realistic in terms of character development. I could really relate to Archilde being unable to decide his future, how he flip-flopped between his two potential lives so much, which one he wanted to live. So many novels have characters who get bold realizations that change their lives, but that rarely happens in reality so it was nice to see a character who struggled to make sense of things from day to ...more
Lisa Dalin
May 15, 2008 Lisa Dalin rated it liked it
The 2nd book my son gave me for x-mas from his college western lit class. I liked this as well as, but not as well as the other two books he gave me. (Big Sky and All the Pretty Horses)
For Montana Indian saga's - none of them are going to be very uplifting if the time period deals with the past 200 years. Reservation mentality becomes sadly vivid in this one as well as Yellow raft in Blue water and The Miracle of Edgar Mint. If you want to read about thie era in this setting those are great read
Jim Rains
Mar 09, 2016 Jim Rains rated it it was amazing
You will not find a better example of American Indian literature produced early in the 20th century. McNickle is a prototype for all subsequent Native authors.
Lauren Mcclusick
Dec 07, 2014 Lauren Mcclusick rated it it was ok
Shelves: school
couldn't really get into the story in the beginning but after archilde settled in back in his home I started to become more invested in the plot. I skimmed a lot of the book but enjoyed the characters. there were certain scenes with such symbolism I had to take a moment to let then sink in. the ending of the book was exciting and I think was reminiscent of a western movie. my favorite character was else because she didn't give a damn about what other people thought and did what she wanted to do. ...more
Kimberly Taylor
Apr 16, 2013 Kimberly Taylor rated it really liked it
A very beautiful and sad story, well told, it is a tale of the interwoven lives of people from two worlds, and those at the crossroads of those two worlds. Archilde is a sad sort of hero; you know his lot would have been better if he would not have been born of a white father and Salish mother at a time when the children were still forced to go to the Jesuit schools and forsake their traditions. This time is not so long ago, but too often we forget.
Dec 28, 2014 Montanamarynotmartha rated it really liked it
I read this for my Native American Studies class at school. At first I was a little bored, but then towards the end I really started to like it. McNickle's writing reminds me of Animal Farm. Our professor enlightened us to the story lines representing entities like the government, resistance, traditionalism, etc. One other thing I liked was the classic writing. It was a treasure trove of new vocabulary terms for me!
Oct 03, 2009 Christie rated it really liked it
Was a difficult read in the beginning but turned out to be a really good Montana book. Great history of Indian Schools and their effect on Indian youth. Also provided great insights on the relationship between missionaries and Indians in the 30's and 40's. If you like Montana history, check this one out. But be prepared to be patient as the story develops in the first 100 pages.
May 06, 2008 Ned rated it liked it
This is worth reading for the content: insight into the lives of Indians during the early 1900s and their conflict with the white man, his religion and his deadening control over those less powerful than he. Worth reading more for that than for McKnickle's prose... although there are some great moments of beautiful writing.
Jul 19, 2010 Patricia rated it it was amazing
What an awesome book and to think it was written in 1936. What a vicious cylce exists and how do we as a country break it? Even though it was written over 60 years ago it is still very current. One of the last lines puts the entire book into perspective " ...when are you going to learn you can't run away."
Colleen Stinchcombe
Mar 07, 2013 Colleen Stinchcombe rated it liked it
One I definitely enjoyed. The characters were well-formed and the story compelled me forward, and there were social-justice aspects of this novel that I thought were very well done. A few situations where I might say “I don’t buy it”, but the rest of it was so good that it’s forgiven. A definite recommend.
Aug 20, 2010 Sara rated it liked it
This is probably more of a 3.5 or 3.75 stars book ... but one that I would definitely encourage others to read. It was written some time ago so, and about Native Americans - both of which, I believe, lead to a more relaxed pace in the writing. I'm excited to discuss this at book club!
Heather Sharfeddin
Nov 25, 2013 Heather Sharfeddin rated it really liked it
Beautiful depiction of the struggle to understand a new world that is so very different from the one your ancestors have known. Written during a very bleak episode of American history, it accurately illustrates racial tensions and the loss of cultural identity.
Oct 01, 2008 Ashley rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I think American Indian Literature is one of the most underrated genres there is. We screw them over, and then we won't even read what they have to say about it. Granted, this wasn't the best book I've ever read, but it was certainly eye-opening.
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