Rough Justice

The article by Bruce Barcott discusses the style in which Erdrich writes as tales are told by many characters. He goes on to state that “The Plague of Doves,” by Erdrich tells a tale of a little town called Pluto in North Dakota, which is slowly dwindling and questions what exactly is causing the town to slowing die and drive out its youth. The small town is stated to have skeletons that would surpass a simple storage of a closet but rather storage units. There is historical and geographical tension between Indians and whites, which occurs in the book Barcott mentions. He ends the article stating the intimacy of growing up in a small town such as the one described in the novel in the following quote:

“In “A Plague of Doves,” Erdrich has created an often gorgeous, sometimes maddeningly opaque portrait of a community strangled by its own history. Pluto is one of those places we read about now and then when big-city papers run features about the death of small-town America. When you grow up in such a place, people know that your mother was a wild child back in high school. They know why your uncle talks to himself in the grocery store. What Erdrich knows is that this history, built up over generations, yields a kind of claustrophobia that has only one cure: Leave.”

Barcott makes an excellent observation of Erdrich ‘s tale of a community that suffers due to an unfathomable event that took place. The community fails to come to terms with the lack of justice of the event of the lynching of the three individuals. This lack of justice echoes throughout the community generation after generation. This is exactly what Barcott is illustrating in the quote above. The tale of the lynching has carried over into the generations leaving them with a view that may have been placed upon them as the story is told to them. In the end the only option left for one to escape this horrifying tale, is to leave the town.

2 thoughts on “Rough Justice

  1. I agree with this because I do feel like the generations are all affected by the previous generations. The problem lies with people not being able to take responsibility for their ancestors and because of that the town is in turmoil.

  2. What you said about the only way out of the claustrophobia was to leave is interesting. It seems like the town is marked by the events that transpired, but you also mentioned how the story is told through and by every character. We are not getting only one view but rather a full picture. It is like looking at a portrait in a museum. It is often impossible to really know exactly which message and what the painter wanted us to take away from it but it is m,uch easier to tell if you stand back and take the whole painting in. It is however, harder to understand if you stand really close up and just look at the top right corner. Sure it gives you the colors of that part but it tells you nothing of what is happening surrounding that corner. Same with the way Erdrich choses to tell the story. When you know not just one family but you are able to construct a whole family tree that goes back generations it tells you more and even though it might get overwhelming with names, all these details are not important. What is important is the story that they culminate to tell. Without one part it wouldnt be the same.

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