Tracks by Louise Erdrich Analysis
Christopher Columbus' arrival at the virgin land of the Americans in 1492 marked the onset of large-scale exploration, European conquest and colonization. European invasion consequently lead to a long series of land usurpations that gradually displaced the natives into confined land reserves. Nevertheless, this invasion resulted into the infiltration of alien norms and culture into the Native American's social lore and mores. It is against this background that Erdrich, in her novel 'Tracks' explicitly illustrates the political and historical experiences of the Native American as exemplified by the troubles of Chippewa Tribe.
The tone of the novel is moderately depressing given the dramatic events even though the novel employs aspects of romance and humor. Erdrich has adopted the style of first person narration to reminisce past events using two protagonist; Nanapush and Pauline. These two narrators adopt an alternating role in their narrations as the plot builds from chapter to chapter. It is important to note that the author has used Fleur as a substitute of the entire clan with the purpose of simplifying the entire story although her active voice in the narrative has been silenced by both Nanapush and Pauline.
Two major themes are evident namely: historical injustices and culture conflict. The theme of historical injustices is embedded in the loss of Chippewa's tribal land to the European settlers following their inability to pay annual fees and land taxes. The death of many natives to Consumption epidemic and hunger as well as loss of tribal heritage to loggers also embodies the theme of historical injustices. Secondly, culture conflict is presented by the opposing view points of Nanapush and Pauline on the issues of religion and culture. While Nanapush is keen on preserving his traditional beliefs, Pauline is inclined towards the alien culture.
The novel has on a large scale achieved its purpose of bringing to the forefront the Native American history. Inasmuch as the injustices inflicted by the whites upon the natives has been illustrated through Fleur's rape and loss of land, the author has shown that the Native Americans were themselves perpetrators of wrongdoing to their own kinsmen. This then brings to the forefront the role that the Native Americans played in the dispossession of their own heritage and culture.