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The Arrow-Maker A Drama in Three Acts   By: (1868-1934)

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The Arrow-Maker A Drama in Three Acts by Mary Hunter Austin is a compelling and thought-provoking play that explores themes of cultural identity, spirituality, and the clash between ancient traditions and modern society.

Set in a Native American village, the play takes us on a journey into the heart of a community grappling with the challenges of preserving their traditions in the face of outside influence. The central character, the Arrow-Maker, is a revered elder who possesses the sacred knowledge of crafting arrows imbued with spiritual significance. As the village faces the encroachment of a rapidly changing world, the Arrow-Maker's wisdom and teachings become even more essential for the survival of their way of life.

The play excels in capturing the essence of Native American spirituality and traditions. Austin's vivid and evocative descriptions meticulously bring the village and its inhabitants to life. From the mystical rituals to the profound connection with nature, every aspect of their culture is portrayed with authenticity and respect.

The characters themselves are deeply nuanced and multifaceted, each wrestling with their own inner conflicts. The Arrow-Maker is portrayed as a wise and compassionate figure, torn between the desire to preserve tradition and the necessity of adapting to a changing world. The other characters, including the young and determined Medicine-Flower and the skeptical outsider Colonel Maldonado, present contrasting perspectives that add layers of complexity to the narrative.

One notable aspect of the play is its exploration of the clash between tradition and progress. Austin skillfully depicts the tensions that arise when ancient beliefs collide with the modern world. Through rich dialogue and powerful monologues, the play prompts readers to reflect on the role of cultural heritage and the importance of preserving ancestral wisdom while embracing societal advancements.

The pacing of the play is excellent, with tension steadily building as the story unfolds. Each act brings new challenges and revelations that keep the audience engaged and eager to discover the characters' fates. The dramatic climax is heart-wrenching and forces us to confront the consequences of neglecting our heritage.

If there's one aspect that could have been further developed, it's the exploration of secondary characters. While the central figures are well-crafted and draw empathy from the readers, some of the supporting characters could have been fleshed out more to enhance the overall depth of the play.

Overall, The Arrow-Maker A Drama in Three Acts is a beautifully written and emotionally resonant play that delves deep into the complexities of cultural preservation and the struggle to adapt in a changing world. Mary Hunter Austin's masterful storytelling not only captivates the reader but also challenges them to reflect on their own relationship with tradition and progress. This play is a must-read for those interested in Native American culture, spirituality, and the timeless struggle between the old and the new.

First Page:


A Drama in Three Acts


Revised Edition


Reprinted from the edition of 1915, Boston First AMS EDITION published 1969 Manufactured in the United States of America

Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 70 90082

AMS PRESS, INC. New York, N. Y. 10003



The greatest difficulty to be met in the writing of an Indian play is the extensive misinformation about Indians. Any real aboriginal of my acquaintance resembles his prototype in the public mind about as much as he does the high nosed, wooden sign of a tobacco store, the fact being that, among the fifty eight linguistic groups of American aboriginals, customs, traits, and beliefs differ as greatly as among Slavs and Sicilians. Their very speech appears not to be derived from any common stock. All that they really have of likeness is an average condition of primitiveness: they have traveled just so far toward an understanding of the world they live in, and no farther. It is this general limitation of knowledge which makes, in spite of the multiplication of tribal customs, a common attitude of mind which alone affords a basis of interpretation... Continue reading book >>

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