In Louise Erdrich’s novel ‘The Plague of Doves’, Mooshum tells Evelina and Joseph a story of the murder of a white farm family and the vengeance exacted by the white community on the Ojibwe for this crime; but leaves out the whole truth. In this case, Mooshum’s version of the story stops short to the crucial hanging event where Mooshum was one of the four Ojibwe apprehended for the murder but escapes the hanging (Erdrich 55). Mooshum, as well as the rest of the family, attempt to keep Evelina and Joseph from learning the truth about the incident because it may change their perception of the family and cause them to carry the shame and pain of the event. In order to understand why Mooshum left out this part of the story, it is important to consider it from the perspective of cultural trauma.
Generally, individuals like Mooshum chose to leave out parts of their narrative because his experience of the trauma cannot be reconciled with the themes about their existence and life that they cherish (Eyerman et al. 29). In addition, the narrative may be irreconcilable with Mooshum’s account of his identity, as well as with the theme of justice as seen when he introduces the story by saying that there is no justice here on earth. In this case, the experience that he hides in the narrative has negative implications for Mooshum’s identity from Evelina and Joseph’s perspective because he betrayed his friends, leading to their death. As with other trauma victims, Mooshum’s sense of self is discontinuous with the identity he has painstakingly created in the family narrative, which he wants Evelina and Joseph to be proud of (Antze & Lambek 33). As a result, he chooses not to tell the story about the role he played in the hanging of his friends so that Evelina and Joseph do not know of their family’s connection to the perpetrators of the hanging.
- Antze, P., & Lambek, M. (2016). Tense past: Cultural essays in trauma and memory. London: Routledge. Print.
- Erdrich, Louise. The Plague of Doves. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2013. Print.
- Eyerman, R., Alexander, J. C., & Breese, E. B. (2015). Narrating trauma: on the impact of collective suffering. London: Routledge. Print.