The Way to Rainy Mountain

Rainy Mountain Symbol Analysis

Rainy Mountain Symbol Icon

Rainy Mountain, the landform that defines the skyline of Kiowa lands, is an iconic natural feature that encapsulates a sense of place for the Kiowas. It’s also a shorthand for home; when Momaday says in the introduction that he “returned to Rainy Mountain,” he’s actually referring to a more general homecoming. Rainy Mountain is not an uncomplicated symbol for home, though. The Kiowas originally came from the northern plains, and they settled at Rainy Mountain after a long migration. The Kiowas think of this migration as a journey to fulfill their destiny: they became nomads and warriors, they came to worship Tai-me, and they grew to rule the southern plains. They settled at Rainy Mountain at the apex of this journey, so the mountain is a reminder of their most triumphant period of history. It’s a slightly dissonant symbol, then, as the mountain—an embodiment of home and of the period of time when Kiowa culture was at its peak—presides over the dissolution of Kiowa culture and the death of Momaday’s grandparents, who bear the last living memories of the Sun Dance.

Rainy Mountain Quotes in The Way to Rainy Mountain

The The Way to Rainy Mountain quotes below all refer to the symbol of Rainy Mountain. 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:
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of New Mexico Press edition of The Way to Rainy Mountain published in 1976.
Prologue Quotes

In one sense, then, the way to Rainy Mountain is preeminently the history of an idea, man’s idea of himself, and it has old and essential being in language. The verbal tradition by which it has been preserved has suffered a deterioration in time. What remains is fragmentary: mythology, legend, lore, and hearsay—and of course the idea itself, as crucial and complete as it ever was. That is the miracle.

Related Characters: N. Scott Momaday (speaker), The Kiowas
Related Symbols: Rainy Mountain
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
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To look upon that landscape in the early morning, with the sun at your back, is to lose the sense of proportion. Your imagination comes to life, and this, you think, is where Creation was begun.

Related Characters: N. Scott Momaday (speaker)
Related Symbols: Rainy Mountain
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
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Introduction Quotes

Although my grandmother lived out her long life in the shadow of Rainy Mountain, the immense landscape of the continental interior lay like memory in her blood.

Related Characters: N. Scott Momaday (speaker), Aho
Related Symbols: Rainy Mountain
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
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Rainy Mountain Symbol Timeline in The Way to Rainy Mountain

The timeline below shows where the symbol Rainy Mountain appears in The Way to Rainy Mountain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Origins, Linearity, and Circularity Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
...way that reflects the way the mind understands, remembers, and creates traditions. The journey to Rainy Mountain , he suggests, is at its core an expression of the identity and spirit of... (full context)
Introduction
Origins, Linearity, and Circularity Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
Momaday describes the landscape of Rainy Mountain , which is a knoll (hill) in the Oklahoma plains where the Kiowas have lived... (full context)
Origins, Linearity, and Circularity Theme Icon
Momaday then locates himself in time, saying that he had first returned to Rainy Mountain last July after the death of his grandmother, Aho, whom he notes was said to... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
Momaday returns to Aho, writing that though she lived her whole life by Rainy Mountain in Oklahoma, she could tell stories of the historic Kiowa journey from Montana down to... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
...is. He notes that his grandmother’s grave is, as it must be, within sight of Rainy Mountain . (full context)
The Going On
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Origins, Linearity, and Circularity Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
...by fire in the late nineteenth century. Momaday’s personal memory is of walking through the Rainy Mountain cemetery and the earth seeming to glow dark red in the sunset. He remembers the... (full context)
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Memory and History Theme Icon
Nature, Landscape, and Animals Theme Icon
...Kiowas into nomadic warriors and buffalo hunters. Momaday then remembers how cherished summers were at Rainy Mountain , and how during the summer he would live in an open arbor at his... (full context)