|Native American Humor:Powerful Medicine in Louise Erdrich’s Tracks||Sep 27, ’07 3:46 AM
by little_running_deer for group lrdjournal
Powerful Medicine in Louise Erdrich’s Tracks
by Leslie Gregory An old adage claims that laughter is the best medicine to cure human ailments. Although this treatment might sound somewhat unorthodox, its value as a remedy can be traced back to ancient times when Hypocrites, in his medical treatise, stressed the importance of âa gay and cheerful mood on the part of the physician and patient fighting diseaseâ (Bakhtin 67). Aristotle viewed laughter as manâs quintessential privilege: âOf all living creatures only man is endowed with laughterâ (Bakhtin 68). In the Middle Ages, laughter was an integral part of folk culture. âCarnival festivities and the comic spectacles and ritual connected with them had an important place in the life of medieval manâ (Bakhtin 5). During the trauma and devastation of German bombing raids on London during World War II, the stubborn resilience of British humor emerged to sustain the spirit of the people and the courage of the nation. To laugh, even in the face of death, is a compelling force in the human condition. Humor, then, has a profound impact on the way human beings experience life. In Louise Erdrichâs novel Tracks, humor provides powerful medicine as the Chippewa tribe struggles for their physical, spiritual, and cultural survival at the beginning of the twentieth century. …………………
In Louise Erdrich’s Tracks, Native American humor challenges fate, nourishes the human spirit, and gives strength and hope for survival. âThe powers to heal and to hurt, to bond and to exorcise, to renew and to purge remain the contrary powers of Indian humorâ (Lincoln 5). For the Chippewa, this humor provides powerful medicine for the physical, cultural, and spiritual preservation of their tribe.
Erdrich Louise. Tracks. New York: Harper Collins, 1988.
Ghezzi, Ridie Wilson. âNanabush Stories from the Ojibwe.â Coming to Light. Ed. Brian Swann. 1st ed. New York: Random House, 1994.
Lincoln, Kenneth. Indi’n Humor. New York: Oxford UP, 1993.
Sergi, Jennifer. âStorytelling: Tradition and Preservation in Louise Erdrichâs Tracks.” World Literature Today 66 (Spring 1992): 279-282.
Towers, Margie. âContinuity and Connection: Characters in Louise Erdrichâs Fiction.â American Indian Culture and Research Journal 16 (1992): 99-115.