, Research Paper
An Examination of Black Elk s
“High Horse s Courting”
What Does It Take?
In the short story “High Horse s Courting”, Black Elk writes about the hardships a young Sioux man, like himself, would have to do when trying to get the woman that he loved. Black Elk uses many different objects to help guide the reader through the story which help keep the readers interest, give us perspective into another society, and allow a glimpse into his life.
The story is many times comical and outlandish do to the ridiculous measures that the main character, High Horse, goes through to try to win the heart of the girl in which he wants to marry. Although much of the story is meant to be humorous, Black Elk is not ridiculing the young boy. On the cuantrary, in the first paragraph Black Elk puts himself in the young mans place and agrees that if he himself was in that position that he would do everything in his power to receive the hand of the young maiden. Black Elk makes it quite clear that he admires the bravery that the boy showed in his quest to steal the girl away and make her his own. The reader also senses some sympathy from Black Elk towards the young man.
In the second paragraph Black Elk starts by introducing the problem and goes on to explain how he would react to those problems. He does this before introducing the main character, thus making it seem as though the story is about him self when in fact it is about High Horse. This adds a sense of personalization between the author and the main character, and adds a new dimension to how the reader portrays the main character.
From there He goes on to explain the antics of High Horse in his village. With a little help from his close friend Red Deer, High Horse causes commotion while trying to win the heart of the young woman. Black Elk puts the character High Horse through an assortment of challenges that seem to be in vein. Though the tasks may not have originated with Black Elk, the reader often gets the feeling that he has gone through similar, if not the same, experience through the in depth descriptions.
In the story Black Elk also describes the parents of the young woman. Though he does not give physical descriptions, he does give an account of how they feel for the young woman, and how he sees them. The father is first described as a stubborn man when in paragraph six and seven he would not take the horses in which High Horse was trying to trade for his doughtier.(221) The Father did this again when High Horse came again with a doubled offer. So the reader gets a sense of the overprotective father, and in a sense that notion is correct. It is later revealed that the father was looking for someone that would be brave enough to do something outside of the normal limits and still stay respectable in the eyes of the tribe. The same can be said about the girl s mother, as she hovers over her doughtier, giving her an abundance of attention. The mother ties down her doughtier nightly so that someone can not steal her away while she sleeps. This somewhat mirrors the father s feelings and gives the reader a feel that it would take something very strong to break the bonds between the family. Black Elk provides an overprotective feel for the parents but in the end it turns out that the parents just want the best for their child, as long as it followed tradition, which is often the case of present day families. This is important because the actions taken by High Horse where a little less than traditional. But because of his efforts and his fearlessness he finds that he has earned the right to the girl s hand.
It is obvious that Black Elk, in explaining this story, is composing this story with personal experience to guide the flow of the story. He provides a comical story while explaining his personal past and the past of his culture. With that he is able to keep the readers interest, give us perspective into another society, and allow a glimpse into his life.
Black Elk “High Horse s Courting.” The Little, Brown Reader. Eighth ed. Ed. Marcia Stubbs and Sylban Barnet. New York: Longman. 2000. 219-223.