A Native American Girl’s Coming of Age in Louise Erdrich’s The Porcupine Year

Li Ping Chang, En Yin Chou, Yi Hua Yang


Louise Erdrich, one of the most renowned Native American authors of our time, writes a female Bildungsroman in The Porcupine Year, a sequel to The Birchbark House and The Game of Silence. The story follows the 12-year-old Native American girl Omakayas as she makes the journey from childhood toward womanhood during the porcupine year, the year named for her younger brother’s medicine animal. During this year that Omakayas travels with her family, looking for a new home after being forced off their land, she will fight with an eagle, endure betrayal and starvation and the death of her beloved friend Old Tallow. She will also fall in love, learn about healing from her grandmother Nokomis, and begin to realize her own gifts in this area. These experiences mark another stage in her coming of age. This paper will use Carl Jung’s psychoanalytic theories, Erik H. Erikson’s theory on psychosocial development, Carenlee Barkdull’s on Native American women’s identity, and Michael Garrett and J. T. Garrett’s observations on Native American children’s education to explore Omakayas’s identity development.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wjel.v1n2p43

World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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