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'House Made of Dawn' Discussion

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message 1: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (last edited Jun 27, 2011 12:49PM) (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
We recorded last night and I realized afterward that there were some things I wanted to bring up, but didn't get around to.
Jason will let us know when the episode is posted, but we can begin with general discussion of "Part I: The Longhair" anyway...I mean there might even be people out there who read the books without listening to the podcast (crazy, right?!).

Why do you think this section is called "The Longhair"?

What's your take on the death at the end of this section?

Why did Francisco leave the ceremony early for the first time in his life?

Do you attach any significance to the fact that Father Orguin has one blind eye that can never close?

There's more detail on the Feast of Santiago at this site: http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/sw/dg... "The Pecos Bull at Jemez" begins on page 61 of this site (small green font for transcribed page numbers)


message 2: by Jason, Walking Allergen (last edited Jun 27, 2011 12:38PM) (new)

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
I think it's "longhair", not "long hair", which might seems like splitting hair, but it's an important distinction.

"Longhair" I interpret as a way to refer to a Native American, or perhaps a Native American of a certain tribe, age or type. I'm not sure if it's derogatory or not, and I'm not sure if it's an external or internal term.

"Long hair" would just mean one had, well, long hair.


message 3: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new)

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Those are some good questions, Matt.


message 4: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Jason wrote: "I think it's "longhair", not "long hair", which might seems like splitting hair, but it's an important distinction.

"Longhair" I interpret as a way to refer to a Native American, or perhaps a Na..."



Yeah, err, uhh...I knew that. I just looked around a little saw some stuff about this. I guess "longhair" is a term used to describe Native Americans who maintain the old ways and do not adopt European custom (hence keeping their hair long). I would think this was about Francisco, as he seemed to be our touchstone to the village of Jemez in this section. The first and last chapters of Part I begin and end with his journeys.
I guess "longhair" could also mean the old ways, in general. When Father Olguin is bringing Angela to the festival, they pass an old man combing out his long hair. That is the first in a series of sensory experiences that make Angela acutely aware that she's out of her element. The odor of animals, strange food, and incense, and the sounds she hears are all alien to her.


message 5: by Dave Alluisi, Evolution of the Arm (last edited Jun 29, 2011 07:37AM) (new)

Dave Alluisi | 1047 comments Mod
I think Abel is the longhair. I took longhair much the same way as you guys, a Native American who... I wouldn't say clings to the old ways, but lives and thinks by them, sort of naturally. Others have adapted somewhat to western culture, leaving guys like Abel looking like anachronisms to others.

It's this quality in Abel that leads him to kill the albino at the end of Part 1. Abel sees something evil in the albino that most modern people wouldn't see, witchcraft or a looming curse or something like that. It frightens him, and so he attacks the man and kills him. Later, at his trial, we see that he considers this a perfectly logical course of action that he would repeat if given the chance.

For the other two questions... I admit, you guys thought a LOT more about Francisco and Father Olguin than I did. So, no thoughts... I actually don't even remember either of those two details in the reading.


message 6: by Dave Alluisi, Evolution of the Arm (new)

Dave Alluisi | 1047 comments Mod
Maybe this isn't the place to put it, but I really dug Part 3.


message 7: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new)

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Dave wrote: "Maybe this isn't the place to put it, but I really dug Part 3."

I just finished it. It's certainly a very different narrative style from the rest of the book. And no nature! ;)


message 8: by Dave Alluisi, Evolution of the Arm (last edited Jun 30, 2011 03:16PM) (new)

Dave Alluisi | 1047 comments Mod
Jason wrote: I just finished it. It's certainly a very different narrative style from the rest of the book. And no nature! ;)"

Me too. In a way, Part 3 is what I needed to become invested. You know, a point of view that lasts longer than 3 pages and isn't telling some old story about the most boring day in their grandfather's life ("He woke up. He saw a jack rabbit. He watched the sun rise. He heard wind.") I still don't have much of a feeling towards Abel one way or the other, but at least I cared about the book by the end.


message 9: by Jason, Walking Allergen (last edited Jun 30, 2011 04:30PM) (new)

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
There's a strong suggestion that what Abel and his grandfather find boring would differ quite a bit from what you or I might find boring...Ben makes numerous references to how Abel will be fine once he "gets used to it"; it being living in the city. He also mentions how many things there are to do there, and how the land of the reservation by contrast is empty and lifeless. I think Abel feels it's just the opposite.

Only one more day until recording...must shut myself up...


message 10: by Dave Alluisi, Evolution of the Arm (new)

Dave Alluisi | 1047 comments Mod
Well, it's been clear from the beginning that what Abel and I consider boring doesn't quite match up... ;)

I did end up liking the book overall, which is a big turnaround considering I came about an inch from throwing it off my balcony towards the end of Part 2.

By the way, I did some research on animals that proved enlightening and helped me get into the less *ahem* exciting passages. We'll talk about that tomorrow night.


message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim | 498 comments Glad to hear the narrative picks up. It's been a long, hard slog for me so far, but I'm nearing Part 3.

More later, I hope.


message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim | 498 comments Finished the book Monday; listened to the podcast today. Jason and Dave really dug into the work and greatly aided my appreciation of the book, and Matt... well, Matt recorded and edited it.
No, Matt was moving the discussion along by asking a lot of the questions I had. I can't tell the three of you how much I appreciated your dissection of the book. The animal symbology was especially enlightening.
Unfortunately, I was pretty tuned out by Part 3, but soldiered through to the finish. I found the prose more sleep-inducing than hypnotic, even in the bits where things actually happened. I found none of the characters compelling -- like you, I did like Ben's voice, but that's not much to hang one's hat on.

I wondered if the women's names had any symbolic meaning: Angela/angel (though I don't think that shoe really fits, even in her last appearance), Pony.... I've tried and failed to come up with a meaning for the name "Milly," but that may be because my names theory is complete nonsense.

(For Dave's sake, I won't go into the Pulitzer.. hey, it was the '60's, all kinds of weird sh*t went down back then.)

Anyway, I'm sure you're all quite done with discussing this one. Onward and upward!


message 13: by Jason, Walking Allergen (last edited Jul 07, 2011 05:07PM) (new)

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "Anyway, I'm sure you're all quite done with discussing this one. Onward and upward!"

Don't ever let the fact that we've moved on to another book stop you (or anyone) if you have something to say about an older one. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.

I feel like Matt keeps us organized and moving forward, which is invaluable for inveterate ramblers like me, as well as making a lot of his own points. The editing is a bonus.

I'm glad to hear someone else's interest in the book actually waned during the third part...I can see how it was important to the book as a whole, but it felt very bland and pedestrian after what was, for me, a very interesting first half.

Dunno about the name thing...I have given some thought to Abel's name, as well, given its importance in Christian theology, but I didn't really come up with any links.


message 14: by Jim (new)

Jim | 498 comments Jason wrote: "I'm glad to hear someone else's interest in the book actually waned during the third part..."
Not exactly. My interest was near-nonexistent after the first two parts. Unlike Dave, who appears to have perked up after that, I just never caught the wave.
The book completely failed to grab me. Or I completely failed to grasp the book.
*shrug* Whaddayagonnado?

Back to names and the one bit of research I did do: Olguin derives from a Castilian word originally meaning "to rest" or "to be inactive;" the word evolved over time to mean "to enjoy oneself."
Like Milly, Abel, etc., I couldn't turn this factoid into a salient point, but anyone who wants to take a crack at it should feel free.
Given his clouded, ever-open eye, plus his lust for Angela, plus a name that suggests he's lazy and/or hedonistic, there should be more to say about the padre....

And what the hell did he mean by "Oh God! I understand -- I understand!" anyway???


message 15: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "Finished the book Monday; listened to the podcast today. Jason and Dave really dug into the work and greatly aided my appreciation of the book, and Matt... well, Matt recorded and edited it."
Huh. I don't recall keeping the couch warm a la Ed McMahon at all. I thought I was contributing as much (or as little, apparently) as I usually do. I guess that's the tricky thing about perception.
Thanks for adding to the discussion, Jim. Sorry the book didn't grab you. There's always the next one!


message 16: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
Jason wrote: I have given some thought to Abel's name, as well, given its importance in Christian theology, but I didn't really come up with any links."
Hmmm. I meant to follow that thread when we first met him and failed to do so. Both Abel's were shepherds, for one thing. While our Abel wasn't murdered, I think you could say, in some ways, that he was a victim (institutionalization by modern/mainstream American society and agencies).
"In classical times, as well as more recently, Abel was regarded as the first innocent victim of the power of evil, and hence the first martyr. In the Book of Enoch (at 22:7), the soul of Abel is described as having been appointed as the chief of martyrs, crying for vengeance, for the destruction of the seed of Cain."
That's all I got...oh, and "Millicent - It is of Old French origin, and the meaning of Millicent is 'brave strength.'" and another etymology page that said that 'Francisco' is derived from a phrase that means 'free man.'


message 17: by Jason, Walking Allergen (last edited Jul 08, 2011 12:15AM) (new)

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
I thought Cain was the shepherd and Abel was a farmer. Do I have that mixed up? I'm not exactly a bible scholar.

Even if that's the case, your connection of Abel as an innocent victim still holds (it might even work better given his connection with the land and distaste for the city).

EDIT: I looked it up. You have it right. Wow, I have 11,651 characters left for my comment box. I could cut and paste Genesis in here.


message 18: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
But you won't, right? Unless you're proving the theory that ancient astronauts created early man, I ain't innerested! The 12th Planet
: )


message 19: by Jim (new)

Jim | 498 comments Matt wrote: "That's all I got...oh, and "Millicent - It is of Old French origin, and the meaning of Millicent is 'brave strength.'" and another etymology page that said that 'Francisco' is derived from a phrase that means 'free man.' "
Thanks for contributing to my "significance of names" idea, which I thought was complete B.S., but which you've begun to make me half-believe.

Now back to your Audacity software, edit monkey!!!

*big droopy-eyed wink to indicate affectionate ribbing*


message 20: by Jim (new)

Jim | 498 comments Watching PBS last night, I caught a documentary short, "Sky Island," narrated by Meryl Streep and.... N. Scott Momaday.

The man's voice is absolutely gorgeous, and his narration is mesmerizing. If I'd had him reading House Made of Dawn to me, I'm positive I'd have enjoyed it much more.


message 21: by Matt, I am the Great Went. (new)

Matt | 1517 comments Mod
So, this episode didn't even deserve a Farrell-tastic description, huh? Garsh. :|


message 22: by Jason, Walking Allergen (new)

Jason | 1166 comments Mod
Matt wrote: "So, this episode didn't even deserve a Farrell-tastic description, huh? Garsh. :|"

I got stuck on the idea of writing it in an Indian storytelling style but I could never convince myself that wouldn't come across as cheesy and borderline offensive. Time moved on, so did we, and at this point, it's probably going to remain description-less unless you wanna tackle it.


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