Many The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich is

Many say that the past is a lesson to learn from. Faulty mistakes and righteousdecisions define the future and one’s success in life. The novel The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich is a combination of stories about the past merged into one narrative. The five narrators recount the testimonies of their ancestors to discover the butcher of Pluto and the Ojibwe reservation. These narrators include Evelina Harp, John Wildstrand, Judge Antonne Coutts, Marn Wolde, and Cordelia Lochern. Although not related by blood, they are connected by the murder of the Lochern family, which resulted in the lynching of four Native Americans. In Louise Erdrich’s the plague of doves the idea of past events affecting ones future is shown  .As the story unfolds, the characters come to the realization that they cannot escape their former mistakes. A prime example of that influence is Evelina’s grandfather, Mooshum. Mooshum is the first to communicate his knowledge of the murder. He explains, him and his Native American friends discovered a crying baby at the bloody crime scene. However, instead of facing prosecution and being subjected to accusation, the Natives fled from the scene. Clemence, Evelina’s mother, provides information that he does not. She begins to tell Evelina that moonshum accidentally told the police that him and his friends were at the murder house. “Evelina is devastated by this revelation and states “I still love Mooshum, of course, but this tale was something in my regard of him was disturbed, as if I’d stepped into a clear stream and slit had billowed up around my feet.” (Erdrich 86) This comment proves that Mooshum’s act had been deceiving the ones he loved. The author makes it seem like Mooshum is a cheerful man, but he hides his failures in ridicule and drinking.  The fact stands that Mooshum is mortified and tortured by his previous actions.In the novel, the character with the most noticeable change is Billy Peace. Billy’s character is met in John Wildstrand’s chapter. John Wildstrand and Maggie Peace had been involved in a scandalous love affair behind everyone’s backs. Maggie eventually became pregnant and to secure the child’s future, John and Billy came up with an elaborate scheme to steal from Johns bank. This ingenious plan backfired and caused John to go to prison. Overcome will guilt and regret, Billy fled the reservation to join the army. He soon confides in god and becomes a raging christian. The tale of Billy Peace is a coming of age one. It shows the transition from young boy to strong man. Billy remarried and became an abusive father and husband. The bigger he got, the more toxic and heartless he became. The change is so drastic that Marne, his wife, states “I don’t know who I married anymore. It’s like he’s supernatural. He is horribly tireless, exhausting everyone so much that we have to take shifts to keep up with him.”(Erdrich 154) This statement describes Billy’s shift from a charismatic boy to a monstrosity of a man. Repentance for his failed actions leads Billy Peace to his downfall. The most important character to be affected by his former actions is Warren Wolde. Warren is first introduced by Marn Wolde. Warren is Marn’s deranged uncle who has always been neglected. The insane delusions and constant harassment causes Warren’s family to place him in a Psychiatric hospital. Warren is for the most part overlooked until the final chapter. The final chapter is narrated by Cordelia Lochern, the rescued baby from the devastating murder. While brushing up on her family’s murder she comes to the discovery that Warren is her family’s killer. Over the years, Warren had treated Cordelia with great respect and admiration. Her theory was proved on the day Warren passed. Cordelia begins to wonder what happened to him and a nurse replies ” it was the music that killed him.” (Erdrich 310) On the day of the murder, a certain song was playing. When Warren died, that same song was being played by Corwin Peace on the fiddle.  This is the climax of the novel as everything comes together to complete the story. Cordelia also received a large sum of money that day from Warren. It is almost like he was giving back what he took away. The reminders of the past sent Warren crashing into the grave. The painful memories of the family he destroyed was too much for him to bear alone. One could say he died of a broken heart.All in all, the novel shows the deterioration of characters. The pain and suffering of their past comes back to haunt them. The influence of the past has a much greater effect on the characters than first anticipated. Failure to live up to and own their lapses in judgment carries them down self destructive paths. The novel is a beautifully constructed mess. It’s random characters and actions all have a meaning behind them. The Plague of Doves themes are vital to understand the tale of the native american reservation. Works CitedErdrich, Louise. The Plague of Doves. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publisher, 2008

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