Finding a rhythm : how tribalism creates identity in Erdrich's The painted drum

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Matthew J Rickard (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Katherine Montwieler

Abstract: This thesis focuses on the connection between “tribalism” and identity, and then analyzes the connection in Louise Erdrich’s most recent work, The Painted Drum (2005). It examines Erdrich’s four primary characters and elaborates on the influence tribalism has in each of their stories. Erdrich’s novel tells the story of a tribal drum and its return to the reservation. In the process, the drum brings together Erdrich’s main characters. On the night of the drum’s return, Erdrich’s characters tell the story of the drum’s creation. Their exposition brings the group closer together as a tribe and serves to modify their individual identities into communal and tribal identities. It is my contention that Erdrich’s novel emphasizes the importance on tribal identities within Native American communities. The goal of my thesis is to clarify the role tribalism plays in Native American identity, and to shed light not only on the role it plays in Erdrich’s The Painted Drum, but the role of the drum within the novel and how it ties into the concept of tribalism.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Masters of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Erdrich Louise. The painted drum--Criticism and interpretation
Erdrich, Louise. The painted drum -- Criticism and interpretation

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