Chelsea’s Entertainment Reviews

Michael Blake’s “Dances with Wolves”

This was the first novel by Michael Blake that I have read but it is definitely not going to be my last. Up until the time that I finished this novel and fell in love with the concept of Blakes writing I had no idea that there was a sequel for “Dances with Wolves” titled “The Holy Road”. Im so excited to find this book and read it, and his autobiography as well titled ” Like a Running Dog (which also sounds amazing). I was completely fasinated with this novel and the entire story, Ive never read anything with such depth and honesty about the raid and slaughtering that went on in early North American history. 
The story itself holds so much meaning and emotion around relationships, from close friends to loved ones, and even to the extent of a relationship with an entire group. It had me close to tears yet smiling at the same time and the intense feelings were the best part of reading it. During my last semester at school I was in a Native Woman Studies class that brought me so much insight and powerful wisdom about struggles and fierce oppression than many of us females will never fully understand even with the pressures and patriarchal disfunction than we currently live in. Throughout this novel I was entrapped in the controversy and pulled into the settings. Blake used such extraordinary imagrey that I felt a part of the entire story. I am a little weary of watching the screne play produced from this novel but I think with time Im going to watch it just for a critic.

Lieutenant Dunbar was posted in an isolated run down village that was completely empty and decaying per his request for a postion of solitude. With his extra time and bordom he started a friendship with a wolf that followed his around and ate scraps of meat that he threw, he called him Two Socks. One of the immediate relationships that you meet in this novel is the close ties that Dunbar has with his horse. Along with that you soon run into the friendship that he starts with Two Socks. Right from the begining you are given information about Dunbar and the many accomplishments that he has mad unselfishly but in a very materialistic way and I could tell just from knowing ahead of time what the novel was about that he was obviouly going to find some moral guidance. He soons incounters the Comanche and they grow a special bond with each other. There is one among them who goes by the name Stands With A Fist and she came from White heritage. The leaders of the Comanchegroup soon discover that it would be to there benefit if they could get these two to learn to speak to eachother for common information. With time Stands With A Fist remembers to use her old tongue and Dunbar is taught to speak Comanche. They really start to trust Dunbar when they see him playing with Two Socks, that is when he get given the name Dances with Wolves.

Just a taste:

The following is my favorite chapter and the most intense passage. It is a dream that Dunbar has and must figure out the meaning of. The Second part of Chapter XXIII;

The trees were bare of leaves.
Patches of snow lay on the ground.
It was very cold.
A great circle of uncounted common soldiers waiting lifelessly, their rifles standing at their sides.

He went from one to another, staring into their frozen, blues faces, looking for signs of life. No one acknowledged him.

He found his father among them, the telltale doctor’s bag hanging from one hand like a natural extension of his body. He saw a boyhood chum who had drowned. He saw the man who owned a stable in his old town and who beat the horses when they got out of line. He saw General Grant, still as a sphinx, a soldier’s cap crowning his head. He saw a prostitute, her dead face smeared with rouge and powder. He saw his massively bosomed elementary-school teacher. He saw the sweet face of his mother, tears frozen to her cheeks.

This vast army of his life swam before his eyes as If it would never end.

There were guns, big, brass-colored cannons on wheels. Someone was coming up to the waiting circle of soldiers. It was Ten Bears. He walked smoothly in the brittle cold, like a tourist, he came face-to-face with one of the cannons. A coppery hand snaked out of the blanket, wanting to fell the barrel.

The big gun discharged and Ten Bears was gone in a cloud of smoke. The upper half of his body was somersaulting slowing in the dead winter sky. Like water from a hose, blood was pouring out of the place where his waist had been. His face was blank. His braids were floating lazily away from his ears.

Other guns went off, and like Ten Bears, the lodges of his village took flight. They gyrated through space like heavy paper cones, and when they cam back to earth, the tipis stuck into the iron-hard ground on their tips.

The army was faceless now. Like a herd of joyous bathers hustling to the seashore on a hot day, it swept down on the people who had been left uncovered beneath the lodges.

Babies and small children were flung aside first. They flew high into the air. The branches of the bare tress stabbed through their little bodies, and there the children squirmed, their blood running down the tree trunks as the army continued its work.

They opened the men and women as if they were Christmas presents: shooting into their heads and lifting off the skull tops; slitting bellies with bayonets, then parting the skin with impatient hands: severing limbs and shaking them out.

There was money inside every Indian. Silver poured from their limbs. Green backs spewed from their bellies. Gold sat in their skulls like candy in jars.

The great army was drawing away in wagons piled high with riches. Some of the soldiers were running next to the wagons, scooping the overflow off the ground.

Fighting broke out in the ranks of the army, and long after they had disappeared , the sound of their battling flashed on and off light lightning behind the mountains.

One soldier was left behind, walking sad and dazed through the field of corpses.

It was himself.

The hearts of the dismembered people were still beating, drumming out in unison a cadence that sounded like music. He slipped a hand under his tunic and watched it rise and fall with the beat of his own heart. He saw his breath freezing in front of his face. Soon he would be frozen, too.

He lay down among the corpses, and as he stretched out, a long, mournful sigh escaped his lips. Instead of fading, the sigh gained strength. It circled over the slaughtered ground, rushing faster and faster past his ears, moaning a message he could not understand.



December 24, 2006 - Posted by | Books

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