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Of all the main characters of House Made of Dawn,a Ben Benally is the most straight talking and transparent. He exhibits a simplicity and pragmatism that makes him a stable and grounded member of the Indians who have relocated in Los Angeles. Ben extends considerable generosity to Abel when he first arrives in Los Angeles, helping him out at work and giving him a place to stay. Ben and Francisco are both lonely—though Ben expresses it more explicitly—and it is therefore no surprise that both men would provide for Abel. Indeed, the first thing Ben mentions in his section of the narrative is the fact that he gave up his only coat so that Abel would be warm on the trip back to Walatowa.
In terms of the novel's structure, the similarity between Ben and Francisco reveal a parallelism between Abel's life in Los Angeles and his life in Walatowa. There are two father figures, Ben and Francisco; no mothers; two people in love with Abel, Milly and Angela; and two spiritual figures, the Priest of the Sun and Father Olguin. Ben, like Francisco, is left behind by Abel, but with a promise of return—to sing the song "House Made of Dawn" together.
Ace your assignments with our guide to House Made of Dawn!