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Free Study Guide-When The Legends Die by Hal Borland- Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 3

Summary

Bessie reflects on how Blue Elk tried to control the lives of her family. When he finds out that Bessie and Black Bull are not husband and wife, even though they have a son who is almost three years old, he talks them into getting married; he also persuades them to have their son, Tom, baptized. It is obvious that Blue Elk wants them to follow the customs and beliefs of white, civilized society so that they will be less "savage."

Even though Black Bull works very hard and strives to save money, he can never get out of debt. As a result, he cannot leave Pagosa as he wants to do. When Frank No Deer, a fellow worker, steals some of his hard-earned money on three different occasions, Black Bull explodes and challenges him to a fight. In the fighting, No Deer is killed.

Notes

The white men in Pagosa want to change the "savage" Indians, making them adopt to white society. Blue Elk persuades Bessie and Black Bull to marry and to have their son baptized. Black Bull is very frustrated by his entrapment in Pagosa and the changes he must endure. Even though he works hard and saves every penny possible, he can never get out of debt; as a result, he cannot escape Pagosa and return to the wilderness, where he longs to be with his family. When George No Deer steals some of the money that Black Bull has saved, he challenges him to a fight. During the fighting, No Deer is killed.


Before she departs from Pagosa, which has been her home for over two years, Bessie reminisces about her life with Black Bull in this town. In a melancholy mood, she chants an Indian song taught to her by her mother; she adds her own lyrics about the roundness of her sonís eyes, arms, and legs. To ready herself for the journey, Bessie cooks meat to eat along the way; she also makes certain that Tom, her young son, sleeps before they depart for Horse Mountain. As she is ready to leave, she notices that it is appropriately a dark, moonless night.

CHAPTER 4

Summary

Bessie awakens her young son in the middle of the night so that they can leave without attracting attention. Carefully, she departs with the boy, unseen and unheard by anyone. She stops three different times for her son to rest on the way to Horse Mountain; each time she carefully chooses an appropriate spot to avoid being seen. After sleeping in the wild on the first night, she fishes so her son will have something fresh to eat. After waiting to make certain that nobody is following her, she proceeds to the foot of Horse Mountain. Then she waits two more days to confirm that she is not being tracked. When she finally reaches her destination and finds her husband, they decide to travel further to Bald Mountain. There they stop and build a shelter beside a spring.

Notes

This detailed chapter gives a step by step description of Bessieís foresight and skill in the wilderness. It is clear that she is a courageous and capable woman. She travels alone with her son towards Horse Mountain, always in darkness to avoid being seen. With precaution, she takes care not to attract attention and waits to see if Blue Elk or others are following her.

When Bessie finally finds her husband on Horse Mountain, they decide to travel further to Bald Mountain, where they will settle in the wilderness. They build a shelter and prepare to live amidst Nature. They are delighted to be away from Pagosa and back in the wild, where they came from and where they love to be.

CHAPTER 5

Summary

In order to have meat to eat, Bessie and Black Bull hunt in the old-fashioned way without guns. They are careful to gather and cure enough for the winter, which lies ahead. The innovative Bessie makes storage bags to hold the supplies; she also makes leggings and shirts for the family. She and Black Bull both take care to teach Tom the old Ute ways of surviving in the wilderness. As winter approaches, Bessie and Black search for a warmer site. When they find the perfect place, Black Bull builds a lodge. It will be the familyís home for several years.

Notes

Bessie and Black Bull are portrayed as they busy themselves with surviving in the wilderness in traditional Ute fashion. They hunt without guns and cure meat for the approaching winter. Bessie creates warm clothing for the family, and they search for the perfect spot on which to build a lodge, which will become the family home. Both of them prove themselves to be wise and resourceful adults. They are also careful to share what they are doing with their son so that Tom will learn the Ute way of surviving in the wild.

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