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The night chant: the purpose, process and its effect.

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Byeon, Ji Hyeun Mr. Naugle English 101 12-12-2002 The night chant: the purpose, process and its effect When confusion occurs in people's lives, they try to overcome it in several ways. And, after they defeat their confusion, people's spirits matures to the more established stage than the previous. In his novel, House Made of Dawn, N. Scott Momaday presents a spiritual chaos of a young Native American in the modernized United States. The protagonist Abel is a man who is between two different cultures, unable to cope with either the culture of Indian reservation or that of modern America. As his disintegration from the both cultures deepens, Abel's spirit is devastated. Even though he struggles to find his identity, he could not find the right method. However, through the Navajo night chant "House made of dawn", Abel finally restores his identity as a Native American and gets physical and mental peace for his body. Since the night chant plays an important role in Abel's life, it is necessary to know about the song for the profound understanding of this novel. This paper will pinpoint three facts: First, the purpose of the night chant, second, its healing process, and finally the effect of the night chant on Abel's life. The night chant is a complex ceremony designed for healing patient who are out of balance with the world. ...read more.


. . .] Happily I recover. Happily my interior becomes cool. Happily I go forth. [. . .] Happily may I walk. [. . .] (Momaday 130) The song includes preparation of sacred smoke, directed towards the forces of heaven and earth, as the symbol of thankfulness and purification. (Meli 225) Then the invocation follows, which invites the healing power to the patient. By visualizing each part of the body being healed, the patient restores the physical health. However, the patient still needs harmony between his body and soul. According to Gary Witherspoon, Navajo's mental and physical phenomena are inseparable. (qtd. in Schubnell 48) So, after the restoration of happiness and well-being of the body, the patient takes the imaginative journey of returning his spirit to the recovered self. May it be beautiful before me, May it be beautiful behind me, May it be beautiful below me, May it be beautiful above me, May it be beautiful all around me. In beauty it is finished. (Momaday 130) The prayer finishes with an invocation which asks sacredness from four directions, before, behind, below and above of the patient. In this space, the patient finds himself in the balanced universe, without the pain or evil in his or her appearance. With the sacredness all around, the patient is leaded once again to the beauty way, the way of balanced life. ...read more.


Finally, Abel needs to bring back the power of motion which he lost during his isolation. Gladys A. Reichard claims the importance of the power of motion for Navajos: "Man may breathe and speak, his organs may function well, but without the power of motion he is incomplete." (qtd. in Schubnell 134) Even though the body and spirit are fully recovered, the patient still needs the power of motion. The power of motion makes the patient act and controls their restored body. The request for restoration of health and happiness returns Abel's power of motion to his healed body. The Navajo night chant in this novel provides the readers an opportunity to experience a part of the Navajo culture. The Navajo people emphasized the importance of the balance in their lives. Moreover, they thought that the main cause of every illness is the loss of the balance. To cure the illness, the Navajos held a ceremony which includes several chants, and the night chant was one of those. By reciting song, the patient restored the balance which he had lost and recovers his body and soul. In addition, the night chant plays an important role in this novel. Through the night chant, Abel recovers himself from his struggles and finds his identity as a Native American. The night chant also guides Abel's soul to more mature stage. Finally, Abel goes back home with the balance of the universe in his life. ...read more.

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