SHAMANISM/CATHOLICISM: SCHISM AND SYNTHEISM IN SELECTED NOVELS OF LOUISE ERDRICH
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The novels of Louise Erdrich portray, at times with aching sorrow and at times with ardent humor, the loss, the suffering, and the adaptation of her Native American characters as they confront extrinsic cultural and political forces and intrinsic emotional and psychological conflicts that threaten to disintegrate their traditional culture. One of the more tenacious threats derives from the influence of Catholicism and its persistent imposition upon the culture of Native Americans, and specifically upon the Chippewa of North Dakota. Therefore, religious syncretism represents a predominant adaptive mechanism that most of Erdrich’s characters express in some form or another, yet few characters suffer the polarizing dissonance of spiritual amalgamation as much as Moses, Agnes DeWitt/Sister Cecilia/Father Damien, Pauline/Leopolda.