Fools Crow

Fools Crow

by

James Welch

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Fools Crow can help.

Fools Crow: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Three days after leaving Mountain Chief’s camp, Fools Crow travels cautiously through Napikwan country. Several ranches line the river and the bluffs, and Fools Crow marvels at how many there are now. There are so many of them that it is growing difficult to avoid them and their whitehorns graze everywhere. He notices buildings in the distance. There is a corral but no signs of life.
The Napikwans are slowly taking over, and soon they will have all of the Pikunis’ land. As long as the Napikwans continue to bring in the whitehorn cattle, the blackhorns—and the Pikunis’ traditional way of life—will be pushed out.
Themes
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Spirituality and the Natural World Theme Icon
Fools Crow rides down to the buildings at dusk. He finds a dead dog near the corral; his shoulder has been crushed and his tongue cut out. He goes into the house and discovers dried blood on the bed. There are Napikwan clothes hanging on the wall, but no one is around. Fools Crow walks back out to the empty corral and “feels himself surrounded by the ghosts of Napikwans.”
Fools Crow knows that the Napikwans who live on the ranch have been killed and he suspects that Owl Child and Fast Horse are to blame. This is further evidence of Fast Horse and Owl Child’s disregard for the greater good of the tribe. 
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Colonialism and Western Expansion Theme Icon
Back at the Lone Eaters’ camp, Yellow Kidney watches his sons, Good Young Man and One Spot, play. He looks at his hands and feels useless. He considers leaving, and this thought does not cause him pain. He knows that Fools Crow will look after his sons and make sure that they grow into men, and he no longer feels any desire for Heavy Shield Woman. His wife is content in her role as the Sacred Vow Woman—she will not miss him.
The fact that Yellow Kidney knows that Fools Crow will look after his sons and teach them to be men is more evidence of Fools Crows dedication to the wellbeing of the tribe.
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Yellow Kidney thinks about the camp of the Spotted Horse People who took him in after he was tortured by the Crows. The camp is permanent and made up of mostly elderly people, and he had become one of them while he recovered. As he watches his children play, Yellow Kidney thinks, “I love them but I will not miss them.” Later that night, under Night Red Light and Seven Persons, Yellow Kidney makes his way toward the Spotted Horse People’s camp.
Yellow Kidney did not feel helpless in the camp of the Spotted Horse People. Since most of the people were elderly and likely disabled themselves, his physical shortcomings seemed less apparent in their camp. At home in constant view of his young sons, Yellow Kidney is painfully aware of what the violence of war has done to him and what his decision to dishonor the young girl has caused.
Themes
War Theme Icon
Get the entire Fools Crow LitChart as a printable PDF.
Fools Crow PDF
As Fast Horse approaches, Fools Crow grows acutely aware that they are not friends anymore: “They had chosen different lives, and [Fast Horse’s] burning eyes told him that the break was as final as death.” Fools Crow tells Fast Horse that Boss Ribs begs him to come home and learn the ceremonies of the Beaver Medicine bundle.
Fast Horse is resolute in his choice to leave the tribe and instead pursue his individual interests. His rejection of his people is so complete that he even rejects Fools Crow, despite their lifelong friendship and connection.
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Fools Crow tells Fast Horse that he has just come from the ranch and that he knows he is responsible for what happened there. He tells Fast Horse that he has betrayed his people and has become a “heartless insect.” Fast Horse refuses to go home and tells Fools Crow to tell Boss Ribs that he was unable to find him.
Fools Crow is just as resolute in his own decision to remain part of the tribe. Fast Horse is dangerous to the wellbeing of his people, and Fools Crow is willing to break Boss Ribs’s heart for the collective good of his people.
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
Fast Horse tells Fools Crow that he has been betrayed by Cold Maker. Cold Maker had promised to make him powerful but failed to keep his word. Fast Horse says that he has offended Cold Maker, but Yellow Kidney was captured because he was foolish and shouldn’t have entered the camp. “He was a foolish man!” Fast Horse yells as Fools Crow rides off.
While Fast Horse takes full responsibility for smiting Cold Maker, he will not be held responsible for Yellow Kidney’s plight. Yellow Kidney’s behavior was foolish, and he certainly should not have entered the young dying girl’s robe. 
Themes
The Individual vs. the Collective Good  Theme Icon
War Theme Icon