Moon of the Crusted Snow


Waubgeshig Rice

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Moon of the Crusted Snow Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Waubgeshig Rice's Moon of the Crusted Snow. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Waubgeshig Rice

Waubgeshig Rice grew up on a Wasauksing First Nation reservation near the Arctic Circle. He began his writing career as a journalist for the First Nations newspaper Anishinabek News, in which he documented his experiences as a foreign exchange student in Germany. He attended Ryerson University, graduating in 2002. After college, Rice hosted the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s local radio show Up North, which was centered around indigenous storytelling. In 2012, Rice published a short story collection, Midnight Sweatlodge, based on his experiences growing up in an Anishinaabe community. Rice’s 2014 debut novel, Legacy, focused on cultural tensions between First Nations people and non-indigenous Canadian people; it revolves around the murder of a young First Nations woman. Moon of the Crusted Snow is Rice’s second novel, published in 2018. Rice, his wife Sarah, and their children Jiikwis and Ayaabehns split their time between Sudbury, Ottawa and Wasauksing.
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Historical Context of Moon of the Crusted Snow

Moon of the Crusted Snow is an allegorical retelling of European settlers’ colonization of the Americas, and how that colonization has impacted First Nations cultures over the last few centuries. In the novel, outsiders infiltrate and destabilize an Anishinaabe community, a situation that alludes to Europeans who settled in First Nations territory in the 1500s and 1600s. In particular, antagonist Justin Scott represents European settlers who subjugated and culturally erased First Nations people. Rice also addresses how the 19th-century Canadian government censored First Nations languages and cultural traditions and kidnapped and forced First Nations children to attend residential schooling.

Other Books Related to Moon of the Crusted Snow

Rice’s other novel, Legacy, and short story collection, Midnight Sweatlodge, also focus on Anishinaabe culture. While Midnight Sweatlodge recounts Rice’s happy memories growing up on a reservation in Wasauksing, Legacy—like Moon of the Crusted Snow—grapples with cultural tensions between First Nations people and other Canadian groups. Other Anishinaabe authors who address the oppression of First Nations people include Linda LeGarde Grover (The Road Back to Sweetgrass) and Cherie Dimaline (Empire of the Wild). Like Rice, Apache author Darcie Little Badger explores colonial oppression in her science-fiction novel Elatsoe. Moon of the Crusted Snow is also a dystopian novel; its themes overlap with well-known dystopian fiction books like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (which addresses women’s subjugation) and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (which focuses on censorship).
Key Facts about Moon of the Crusted Snow
  • Full Title: Moon of the Crusted Snow
  • When Written: 2017
  • Where Written: Wasauksing First Nation, Canada
  • When Published: 2018
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Novel 
  • Setting: A remote Anishinaabe reservation near the Arctic Circle
  • Climax: The Anishinaabe survivors abandon their reservation and resettle in more remote territory to rebuild their society. 
  • Antagonist: Justin Scott
  • Point of View: Third Person

Extra Credit for Moon of the Crusted Snow

Heavy Metal. Rice usually listens to music to get himself in the writing zone. When writing Moon of the Crusted Snow, he favored heavy metal music and rock songs with dystopian themes, including Metallica’s “The Four Horsemen” and Nine Inch Nails’ “The Day the World Went Away.”

Grandmotherly Love. Rice based the character Aileen Jones—the oldest, wisest, and most beloved character in his story—on his own grandmother, Aileen Rice.