Category Archives: Louise Erdrich

The Shawl By Louise Erdrich

the narrator was the son, who claim to seen shadows.

The narrator relationship with these characters:

Aanakwad- was she is his mother, she was in love with another man who wasn’t her husband, she has a bad temper, she left him behind with his father.

Father- he was his father, He was the one retelling the stories of what happens to his sister being thrown out the wagon and eaten by wolves. He also abuses his children after his daughter death.

daughter- this is his sister ,she was left dead, eaten by the wolves, and the raven.

her lover- his mother Aanakwad was in love with a man who wasn’t his father, and had a baby with him.

lover’s uncle- the man who went and picked Aanakwad and her daughter up in a wagon.


Oblivion, noun: the condition or state of being forgotten or unknown; the state of being destroyed.


We encountered this word in the story The Shawl by Louise Erdrich. It’s used when the narrator talks about the challenges and hardships his people have endured, both from previous generations and from the current ones, and how the struggle of dealing with those pains can drive a person to ruin.

“Now, gradually, that term of despair has lifted somewhat and yielded up its survivors. But we still have sorrows that are passed to us from early generations, sorrows to handle in addition to our own, and cruelties lodged where we cannot forget them. We have the need to forget. We are always walking on oblivion’s edge.”

The Shawl By Louise Erdrich

  1. “Suddenly, he was my father again. And when I knelt down next to him, I was his son. I reached for the closest rag, and picked up this piece of blanket that my father always kept with him for some reason. And as I picked it up and wiped the blood off his face, I said to him, Your nose is crooked again. He looked at me, steady and quizzical, as though he had never had a drink in his life, and I wiped his face again with that frayed piece of blanket. Well, it was a shawl, really, a kind of old-fashioned woman’s blanket-shawl. Once, maybe, it had been plaid. You could still see lines, some red, the background a faded brown. He watched intently as my hand brought the rag to his face. I was pretty sure, then, that I’d clocked him too hard, that he’d really lost it now. Gently, though, he clasped one hand around my wrist. With the other hand he took the shawl. He crumpled it and held it to the middle of his forehead. It was as if he were praying, as if he were having thoughts he wanted to collect in that piece of cloth. For a while he lay like that, and I, crouched over, let him be, hardly breathing. Something told me to sit there, still. And then at last he said to me, in the sober new voice I would hear from then on, Did you know I had a sister once?”
  2. If you were like me, once you got to this passage you realize that the author didn’t start a new story in the middle of the passage. In this part of the story you see that the son that was left behind grew up and had children of his own. After his wife died he became a drunk that beat his children. His son decided he was big enough to fight his father. After the father suddenly became sober. When he told his son that he once had a sister is where you see that he was the son that was left behind. I feel as though  the author experiencing his mother leaving and being told his sister was eaten by wolfs along with his wife dying cause him to have PTSD. Which led to him drinking and beating his children.
  3.  I think the story is trying to show the importance of letting go. If the father had let his hatred of his wife leaving him for another man go, he wouldn’t have told his son that his mother thrown his sister to be eaten by wolves. If his son wasn’t told that story, he may not have kept that piece of blanket with his all those years along with the painful memory’s. If he had let go of the pain he held all those years, when his wife died it would be less likely of his becoming a drunk that beat his children.

“The Shawl” by Louise Erdrich

In “The Shawl” by Louise Erdrich, who is the narrator?

first-person, “our people”

Ah, grandson of Aanakwaad and her husband.

What is the narrator’s relationship to the other characters in the story?



her husband

5yo son

9yo daughter

her lover

their baby

lover’s uncle

4 years younger: Doris (sister) and Raymond (brother) and their husband and wife (also siblings)

father (drinker, abuser)