Civil Rights and Equality: 'A Plague of Doves' by Louise Erdrich

Hosted by Oklahoma Humanities and Oklahoma City University
Louise Erdrich (NPR)

The current moment in our culture requires that we look hard at our ideals and history and the extent to which we have — and have not — ensured the enactment and protection of civil rights within our society.

On October 25, Karen Youmans, Ph.D. will present on A Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich.

As in all of her novels, Erdrich weaves together multiple perspectives and generational views, excavating the powerful ways that a shared multiethnic history ripples into our current lives and relationships. Likewise, the novel displays Erdrich’s trademark blend of tragic circumstances and light comic moments. The premise at the root of the story is the unsolved murder of a 19th-century North Dakota farm family, wrongly blamed on some nearby members of the Ojibwa tribe, who paid for the accusation with their lives.
One of the book’s multiple narrators, a mixed Ojibwa/white teenage girl, serves as the modern day perspective in a three-part narrative, naively processing along with us her grandfather’s tribal understanding and a judge’s knowledge of the local history. Together the three gradually bring to light the story’s real fabric, both the smooth romantic ties and the historically uneasiness knots of which American history is woven. The word “justice” appears many times throughout the novel, which offers meditations on the nature of justice in human society, in tribal culture, and in families. It seems a slippery, uncontrollable concept in the end, since, after all, “justice is prey to unknown dreams.”

More in this series:

Sept. 13, 7 p.m.

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Presenter: Tracy Floreani, Ph.D.

Sept. 27, 7 p.m.

Native Guard by Natasha Tretheway

Presenter: Harbour Winn, Ph.D.

Oct. 11, 7 p.m.

The Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle

Presenter: Lloyd Musselman, Ph.D.

Nov. 1, 7 p.m.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Presenter: Amrita Sen, Ph.D.