DREAM OF THE BLUE HERON by Victor Barnouw

DREAM OF THE BLUE HERON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The author is an anthropologist specializing in the Chippewa Indians, and the background for this well-written story carries a sense of documentary conviction without preaching or being self-consciously informational. The setting is unusual for an Indian novel--placed in 1905 it is split between the remains of a Chippewa community stolidly hanging on to its archaic customs, and the government school which was designed to retrain the Indian children through a military academy styled education. Wabus (later Wallace White Sky) lives the dichotomy. One night he listened to his grandfather describe a war raid. The next day he was forced by his father to enter the school. Wabus clings to many of the old traditions but he is just as attracted to many of the new ways, and eventually he begins to develop the idea of bridging the two styles of living. It's an idea that develops out of disillusion, and unhappiness both at school, where any attempt to rebel is met with brutality and the curriculum is often unreasonably rigid, and at home, where Wabus' father accidentally kills his grandfather in an attempt to discredit the Medicine Man. The school, the rather squalid, assimilated community where his father lives, and the deteriorating tribe are described in the aspects which might be passed over as sordid. But they are tastefully, realistically handled here to give depth to Wabus' special sense of beauty, and his idealistic but vividly conveyed dream.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1966
Publisher: Delacorte