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Story telling as means to understanding
Ida mentions in her story that she has control of the words, that she spoke her own language even though she could speak English because the words were "power." The concept of spoken words as a means to power and story telling itself as a means to truth and healing is emphasized throughout much of American Indian culture and literature, both written and oral. Countless Indian writers have used the story as if the very story itself were another character which reacts differently in the presence of different audiences.
Ida says that she tells the story the "way I remember, the way I want." She uses "words that shaped construction of events as they happened, the words that followed my thought, the words that gave me power." Notice she does not claim that the power originates with her, but rather with words themselves. She can choose to give those words to Rayona, or not. Ida has kept those words as a sacred treasure for forty years; the words are what enable her to hold up her head in spite of carrying two children with no acknowledged father, in spite of being looked down on and misunderstood. She has the power to change the lives of both Christine and Willard-and certainly of Rayona. It is another indication of her tremendous strength of character that she does not abuse that power, but guards it carefully until the time is right to pass it on.
-Self sacrifice without self-abasement -The power of love
Point of View
Each segment of the story is told from the perspective of the person who owns that story and in first person. Rayona’s is told in first person, present tense, however, while Ida and Christine tell their stories in first person, past tense.