Consider your own comments and also mine about Momaday and reflect (in two to three paragraphs) how Desai’s text compares to Momaday. Do you see similarities? Differences? What are they? With Momaday, world (literature) starts locally and it is open through the medium of language and our ability to imagine. Based on “The Farewell Party,” what does Desai’s world (literature) look like?
The excerpts we have read are fine examples of literature in which this opposition (world/humanity and locality/particular culture) becomes a dynamic tension. Many of you have commented on the singular culture that come to live in these texts. Momaday traces his Kiowa ancestry as he travels to/searches for his grandmother’s grave. What is interesting about the author is that he was raised away from his Kiowa culture.
He is thus a member of his tribe and, simultaneously, an outsider who has to find his ‘way back’. How does he do this? By having these aspects in front of the reader. Look at the text closely. I am sure you have noticed that there are different type fonts used. Three, to be precise. The text starts out ‘normal’, if you will.
This is the narrator speaking of his own journey, the landscape, the Kiowa’s history as he remembers his grandmother telling him. This is, if you will, the story we are following. Second, on page 1923, you see a passage in italics (and several more on the pages that follow). Finally, you start seeing paragraphs in all capital letters on page 1925.
What is the reader to make of this? Passages in italics and in all capital letters, to put it briefly, show the narrator at a greater distance, as an outsider. These passages contain stories that have been transmitted orally or they contain factual information such as “[t]hey called themselves Kwuda and later Tepda, both of which mean ‘coming out,” (1925).
Any person who is actively interested, can find out about a people’s creation stories [some of you have nicely pointed out that this is where our text is open to every human being, inviting every reader’s empathy and understanding (for we all have been exposed to stories of creation)] or factual information about the Kiowa. Indeed, we don’t have to do much more than find a few appropriate keywords to plug into Google (something to try for yourself).