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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 45

Summary

Tom reveals that he is planning to go to Albuquerque for a rodeo. Even though he would like to practice with a few broncos before entering a competition, he convinces himself that his old skill would automatically come back to him.

As Tom waits for Woodward to return and take the flock, he gazes at Granite Peak and Bald Mountain. He wishes he had the time to visit each of them and experience the seasons on them. Tom also thinks about himself and his life. He admits that he has been bitter and alone most of his life. He has lived by the philosophy that "if you said it first, they couldn’t say it back." He knows that he has struck out at other people so that they could not strike out at him. He has hurt others so that he would not be hurt himself. Tom also realizes that he has taken out his anger and frustrations on the broncos that he has ridden.

One day before Woodward’s return, a grizzly bear steals a lamb from the flock, causing all the other sheep to panic. Tom shouts at the bear, asking him to go. He also circles around the sheep, bringing them under control. That night he cannot sleep, for something nags at him. He recounts the events of the day and thinks that he has acted like a fool for not killing the bear. Since he cannot sleep, he gets up and checks on everything.


The next day Tom searches for bear tracks and finds them. That evening he feels uneasy, knowing that the bear is still in the area. He regrets having not killed the bear when it first stole the lamb. When he finally goes to sleep, Tom dreams about his mother and the winter when she died. He sings a death chant, which causes him to awake. He checks on the dogs and then goes back to sleep.

Notes

In this important chapter, Tom reflects on his life. He knows that he has been distant and aloof, and sometimes even mean, to others, for he does not want to get hurt himself. In turn, he would take out his frustration on the broncos that he rode. According to Freud, this is a classic defense mechanism of projection, where the individual who is frustrated gives vent to it in ways acceptable to society. According to Freud, individual frustration arises when goal directed behavior is prevented by external or internal barriers. For Tom the internal barrier was his heritage. He did not like being an Indian and being different; he wanted to fit in with the crowd and be accepted. Tom also had many external barriers. People like Blue Elk, Benny, Albert Left Hand, and Red easily used and abused him because of his low self- confidence. Only in the rodeo arena could Tom find any meaning in life. Now, however, Tom is haunted by nightmares of his past. He dreams of Blue Elk and Red ordering him around. He also repeatedly dreams of falling off a bronco, revealing he still has a sense of insecurity. It is no wonder that Tom often feels like a stranger. Beneath his hard exterior, Tom is really a timid Ute in an alien nation, full of alien people, with alien ways.

Back on the mountain, out in nature, Tom feels a measure of peace and tranquility. He gazes at Granite Peak and Bald Mountain and wishes he could spend time on them; but he feels he must rush back to Albuquerque and enter a rodeo, for that it is the only thing that has given his adult life meaning. But Tom is responding to the laws of nature at work upon him. When a grizzly bear steals one of his lambs, he does not kill the creature; instead, he simply tells it to go away. Later, he feels foolish for not having killed the bear, for he is worried about its presence. At night, he cannot sleep and gets up to check and make certain that everything is in order. It is obvious that Tom is restless, almost haunted.

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