Momaday & Sanchez: Sacred and Secular

This paper compares & contrasts the books Sanchez’ Rabbit Boss and Momaday’s “House Made of Dawn”, focusing on their shared themes of primitive people trying to exist alongside a modern Western culture.

In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and in the modern West, the divide between the sacred and the secular is particularly pronounced. This is not the case for all cultures. In modern Saudi Arabia, for example, the sacred runs like a thread through each person’s daily life. Historically, indigenous people have also had daily lives that were characterized by an ongoing relationship to spirit. What happens when indigenous people have to coexist with modern Western culture? According to the two books under consideration in this analysis, the result of the encounter is disjunction, confusion, and a great deal of despair.