Black Elk Speaks

by

John G. Neihardt

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White Cow Sees / Black Elk’s mother Character Analysis

White Cow Sees is Black Elk’s mother. She is proud of her son’s accomplishments in battle, which she demonstrates by celebrating when he returns home from the Battle of Little Bighorn with his first scalp. White Cow Sees is affectionate toward Black Elk, as evidenced by the concern she expresses when he is ill as a child and by her happiness when he returns home from his long trip to Europe. In turn, Black Elk takes care of White Cow Sees: Black Elk’s father and siblings die while he is in Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and when Black Elk returns home, he works at a Wasichu store to support her.

White Cow Sees / Black Elk’s mother Quotes in Black Elk Speaks

The Black Elk Speaks quotes below are all either spoken by White Cow Sees / Black Elk’s mother or refer to White Cow Sees / Black Elk’s mother. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Nebraska Press edition of Black Elk Speaks published in 2014.
Chapter 3 Quotes

Then I was sitting up; and I was sad because my mother and my father didn’t seem to know I had been so far away.

Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

The next morning all the swelling had left my face and legs and arms, and I felt well as ever; but everything around me seemed strange and as though it were far away. I remember that for twelve days after that I wanted to be alone, and it seemed I did not belong to my people. They were almost like strangers. I would be out alone away from the village and the other boys, and I would look around to the four quarters, thinking of my vision and wishing I could get back there again. I would go home to eat, but I could not make myself eat much; and my father and mother thought that I was sick yet; but I was not. I was only homesick for the place where I had been.

Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
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White Cow Sees / Black Elk’s mother Character Timeline in Black Elk Speaks

The timeline below shows where the character White Cow Sees / Black Elk’s mother appears in Black Elk Speaks. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Early Boyhood
Nature Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...family of medicine men, and Black Elk’s father and Crazy Horse’s father were cousins. His mother’s name is White Cow Sees. Her father’s name is Refuse-to-Go, and her mother’s name is... (full context)
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
After this battle, Black Elk recalls his mother warning him not to play too far away from their tepee, or else the Wasichus... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Rubbing Out of Long Hair
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...in a cloud of dust. Black Elk returns to the Ogalala camp to show his mother his first scalp, and she “[gives] a big tremolo” in response. (full context)
Nature Theme Icon
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Black Elk continues with his narrative: after showing his mother the Wasichu’s scalp, Black Elk stays with the women. Although they can’t see the battle,... (full context)
Chapter 10: Walking the Black Road
Nature Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...there is enough to eat—but the soldiers watch them all the time, and Black Elk’s mother and Black Elk’s father wish they’d gone with Sitting Bull and Gall to Grandmother’s Land. (full context)
Chapter 20: The Spirit Journey
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...of his people gathered together in a big camp. He sees his parents; Black Elk’s mother looks up, and Black Elk is sure that she saw him. The cloud takes Black... (full context)
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...did in his vision. Black Elk’s parents are excited to see him, and Black Elk’s mother tells him that she dreamed that he visited them on a cloud but could not... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Messiah
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...brother and sister died while he was overseas, and now it’s only his Black Elk’s mother and himself. He works at a Wasichu store so that they can afford to eat. (full context)
Chapter 25: The End of the Dream
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...He finds the camp where his people fled and is reunited with his Black Elk’s mother. Hardly anybody sleeps that night. (full context)