House Made Of Dawn: Religious Names

Throughout N. Scott Momaday's novel House Made of Dawn, there are many religious references, mostly Catholic names. One must wonder why the story of a Native American's struggle to return to his cultural roots would be laced throughout with Catholic references, especially predominantly Catholic character names. However, these same religious characterizations go far in giving the reader a structure for understanding this complex work.
Of all of the religious names found throughout this novel, the most immediately evident are those of the main characters. The first character we encounter is Abel. In the Bible, we know that Abel is the second son of Adam and Eve. In the Book of Genesis, ...

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Abel as the sympathetic victim of a vicious crime of jealousy, in Momaday's story, Abel seems at first to have taken the position of the aggressor in killing the white man. However, despite Abel's violent crime, he still seems to mirror his Biblical namesake more so than the violent image of Cain.
However, unlike Cain, Momaday's Abel has valid personal reasons for slaying the white man. We first see him as the victim of the white man. At the feast of Santiago, we see the white man brutally beating Abel. The narrator says, "Again and again the white man struck him, heavily, brutally, upon the chest and shoulders and head, and Abel threw up his hands" (Momaday 44). This event is somewhat confusing as it seems to be a ritual of the feast, yet we find in the next sentence that Abel is not used to this game. One must ask why, if this is the same place in which Abel grew up, he is unfamiliar with the game? While we cannot know the answer, it is still evident that, regardless of ...

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poverty, choosing to return to the teachings of the gospel and to shun material wealth (Matz, n.pag.).
While we know little about Francisco in order to compare him to Saint Francis, it is interesting to note that Abel is very similar. In one of the first scenes where we see Abel, he is competing in the rooster game at the feast of Santiago. Unlike his nemesis the white man, Abel fails in his attempt to grab the rooster making a fool of himself. The narrator at this time, tells us, "When it came Abel's turn, he made a poor showing, full of caution and gesture. Angela despised him a little " (Momaday 42).
We also see Abel after his prison sentence, living in Los Angeles and ...

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House Made Of Dawn: Religious Names. (2004, October 16). Retrieved July 14, 2020, from
"House Made Of Dawn: Religious Names.", 16 Oct. 2004. Web. 14 Jul. 2020. <>
"House Made Of Dawn: Religious Names." October 16, 2004. Accessed July 14, 2020.
"House Made Of Dawn: Religious Names." October 16, 2004. Accessed July 14, 2020.
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Added: 10/16/2004 08:17:05 AM
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 2277
Pages: 9

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