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Key Facts

full title ·  When the Legends Die

author ·  Hal Borland

type of work ·  Novel

genre ·  Coming-of-age novel; young adult novel; Native American fiction

language ·  English

time and place written ·  Early 1960s; the United States

date of first publication ·  1963

publisher ·  Lippincott

narrator ·  Anonymous

point of view ·  This novel is narrated in the third-person omniscient voice.

tone ·  Young, angry, tragic, desperate

tense ·  Past

setting (time) ·  Approximately 1910 onward

setting (place) ·  Piedra Town; Arboles; Horse Mountain; Pagosa; Bayfield; Aztec; Bernalillo; Carrizozo; Socorro; Eastern New Mexico; Oklahoma; Colorado; El Paso; Fort Stockton; Sonora; Fredericksburg; Uvalde Country; Odessa; Wolf Point; New York

protagonist ·  Thomas Black Bull

major conflict ·  Tom attempts to come to terms with his Ute heritage and to define his role in society.

rising action ·  Tom's abandonment of his life in the wilderness; Tom's visit to Bayfield, during which he meets Red, who will instruct him in bronco riding

climax ·  Tom dreams of the All-Mother, and she speaks to him, claiming him as her son.

falling action ·  Tom resumes his life in the traditional Ute way.

themes ·  The Search to Define Oneself; the sense of homelessness; resentment toward authority

motifs ·  Comedy and tragedy; songs and chants; the novel's title

symbols ·  The bear; colors; Tom Black Bull

foreshadowing ·  Meo's prediction in Chapter 24 that Red's gambling and drinking behavior will result in his eventual death; Jim Woodward's warning to Tom about what to do if a bear should make trouble on the range.

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