Waterlily Book Summary - Waterlily Book explained in key points

Waterlily summary

Ella Cara Deloria

Brief summary

Waterlily is a novel by Ella Cara Deloria that explores the life of a young Dakota woman as she navigates the complexities of love, family, and cultural traditions in early 20th-century America.

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    Waterlily
    Summary of key ideas

    Initiation into the Dakota Culture

    In Waterlily, Ella Cara Deloria immerses us in the Dakota culture of the nineteenth century, showing us the world through the eyes of Waterlily, a young Dakota woman. The story begins with Waterlily's mother, Blue Bird, who finds herself abandoned by her own tribe and married to the wrong man after a misunderstanding. Trapped in an unwanted marriage, she gives birth to Waterlily amidst adversity. Despite her initial hardships, Blue Bird is lovingly adopted into a new clan known as the Deer Hunter's Camp, where she raises Waterlily.

    As Waterlily grows, Deloria provides vivid details of her protagonist's rites of passage, illuminating the intricate cultural practices of the Dakota people. Waterlily is lovingly raised and educated within her community, learning about their religious beliefs, traditions, and the importance of familial ties. These initial stages of the book depict a society deeply rooted in honor, respect, and communal life.

    The Value of Kinship and Honor

    One of the major themes that Deloria explores in Waterlily is the significance of kinship. In Dakota society, kinship is greatly esteemed, and being part of a kinship network means being an integral part of a mutually supportive community. Waterlily, raised within these social norms, grows to deeply value her bonds with her family and the members of the Deer Hunter's Camp. She learns to navigate her world keeping these relationships in mind, embodying the virtue of generosity seen as essential in her society.

    This sense of community is also tied to a strong sense of honor. In this matriarchal society, honor is earned, not inherited, and Waterlily strives to bring honor not only to herself but to her entire kinship group. Deloria demonstrates through Waterlily's life that in Dakota society, a person's true worth is determined by their conduct and contribution to the community.

    Love, Loss, and Resilience

    As Waterlily reaches womanhood, she falls in love with a brave warrior named Little Chief. Despite facing opposition and issues of honor, they eventually marry, reflecting the underlying theme of resilience in the face of adversity. However, their union is cut short when Little Chief is tragically killed in a feud, leaving Waterlily devastated and a widow at a young age.

    Through her hardship, we gain a deeper understanding of the strength and resilience of Dakota women. Despite her pain, Waterlily continues to fulfill her responsibilities to her kinship group, drawing upon the lessons of love, honor, and duty instilled in her from a young age. Her spirit and determination make her a compelling emblem of the endurance of Dakota traditions and values.

    Preservation of a Culture

    Towards the end, Waterlily explores the profound impact of cultural intrusion on the Dakota people. As settlers start to invade their territories, their way of life gradually begins to vanish. However, Waterlily and her family, along with their kin, continue to uphold their traditions fiercely and with dignity.

    In conclusion, through the richly woven narrative of Waterlily, Deloria paints a vivid picture of the Dakota society that was on the verge of disruption. It poignantly illustrates the traditions, values, and gender roles within the community, teaching us much about their devotion to kinship and honor. Above all, it is a remarkable preservation of a culture, a tribute to Dakota customs and lifestyle, and a testament to the strength and integrity of its women.

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    What is Waterlily about?

    Waterlily is a novel that offers a glimpse into the life of a young Dakota woman named Waterlily, set in the 19th century. Written by Ella Cara Deloria, the book explores the traditions, customs, and challenges faced by the Dakota people, while also delving into themes of family, love, and cultural identity. It provides a unique perspective on Native American history and offers a captivating portrayal of a bygone era.

    Waterlily Review

    Waterlily (1988) by Ella Cara Deloria is a captivating novel that offers a deep exploration of Native American culture and traditions. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Deloria's intimate portrayal of family dynamics brings the characters to life and allows readers to connect with their experiences on a profound level.
    • The book provides a fascinating glimpse into Lakota spirituality and rituals, giving readers a greater understanding and appreciation for Indigenous traditions.
    • Through beautifully descriptive language and vivid imagery, Deloria transports readers to the Plains, immersing them in the sights, sounds, and emotions of the story.

    Who should read Waterlily?

    • Readers interested in Native American culture and history
    • Those who enjoy coming-of-age stories
    • Individuals looking for diverse and authentic perspectives in literature

    About the Author

    Ella Cara Deloria was a Native American author and anthropologist. She was born on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota and grew up immersed in her tribe's culture and traditions. Deloria dedicated her life to preserving and promoting Native American stories and perspectives. Her most well-known work, "Waterlily," is a novel that provides a rare and intimate portrayal of Sioux life in the 19th century. Deloria's other notable works include "Dakota Texts" and "Speaking of Indians." Through her writing, she made significant contributions to the understanding of Native American history and culture.

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    Waterlily FAQs 

    What is the main message of Waterlily?

    The main message of Waterlily is a powerful portrayal of Native American culture and traditions.

    How long does it take to read Waterlily?

    The reading time for Waterlily varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Waterlily a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Waterlily is a captivating book that offers a unique and insightful perspective into Native American culture.

    Who is the author of Waterlily?

    The author of Waterlily is Ella Cara Deloria.

    How many chapters are in Waterlily?

    Waterlily has 16 chapters.

    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
    10. Chapter 10
    11. Chapter 11
    12. Chapter 12
    13. Chapter 13
    14. Chapter 14
    15. Chapter 15
    16. Chapter 16

    How many pages are in Waterlily?

    Waterlily contains 264 pages.

    When was Waterlily published?

    Waterlily was published in 1988.

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