Shell Shaker links two generations of the Billy peacemaking family through increasingly similar circumstances. The early tale, beginning in in pre-removal Choctaw Mississippi , tells the story of Red Shoes , a historical Choctaw warrior. When his wife of the Red Fox clan of the Chickasaws is murdered, his Choctaw wife, Anoleta, is blamed.
Her mother, Shakbatina, forfeits her life to save Anoleta and avert a pending war between the tribes.
The later story follows the descendants of Shakbatina, now living in Durant, Oklahoma in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in Her mother, Susan Billy, confesses to the murder while her uncle, Isaac Billy, brings together their scattered family to help in the investigation. As the family gets closer and closer to the truth, involving tales of embezzlement, rape, money laundering, contributions to the Irish Republican Army and Mafia involvement, their lives become increasingly parallel to that of their ancestors.
They begin to feel the involvement of spirits long gone, complicated by a strange old woman claiming to be Sarah Bernhardt , who just may be more than she seems. The story opens from the point of view of Shakbatina who narrates the story of her own death.
Apart from two later chapters, the rest are not explicitly listed as being told by her, but they are all from a third person narrative. This change of point of view maintains the storytelling aspect of Choctaw tradition while giving voices to the characters themselves, not to one describing them.
Repetition is used throughout the novel, in both situations and quotes, to establish connections between the generations. An example of this is the often repeated "ten thousand feet of intestines hanging from trees in Yanabi Town," the explanation of which is only given at the novel's end. Articles such as the porcupine sash and turtle shells pass down through generations as their imagery passes through the novel. The repetition of the images connect generations to enforce the overreaching themes of time's circular nature and the connection of people.
Memories and flashbacks are also used to establish connections. They become increasingly long and common as the story develops, as the Billy family attempts to piece together the story of the past. Writer Lucy Maddox sees the importance of memory as one of the major purposes of the novel, as it "alternates scenes from present and past, conflating ancestral lives and contemporary ones to produce stories about the ways in which identity is both constructed and understood in a tribal context that makes memory more relevant than chronology" [ 10 ].
The Choctaw language is heavily featured throughout the novel, but never without translation. This allows those with no knowledge of the language, regardless of their native status, to fully appreciate the storyline. The importance of the language is established from the beginning, as the novel's opening lines are in the Choctaw language. From there, the novel's important themes are illustrated by the language, including that of the bloodsucker osano and the search for the greatest giver, or Imataha Chitto.
The classical trickster character is also used. Grandmother Porcupine serves as both a comic relief while imparting necessary knowledge to those she wants to have it, namely Isaac, Hoppy, and Nick.
Shell Shaker is a novel by LeAnne Howe, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The novel's plot revolves around two tales of murder involving. storytelling in the novel Shell Shaker. In this novel, Howe connects to her readers , challenging them to gain an awareness of the corruption and misuse of power.
She claims to be an animal spirit, over years old and a protector of the family. The novel's plot revolves around two tales of murder involving Choctaw political leaders. Set over a year period, it focuses on several generations of the Billy family who try to keep the peace. According to Howe, Shell Shaker is "a book about power, its misuse, and how a community responds. It's not for Indians only.
A shell shaker is a woman who participates in a Choctaw ceremony during which empty turtle shells are tied around a dancer's feet. The dance is a prayer to the spirits to answer a request. The Billy family is descended from the first shell shaker, Grandmother of Birds. Shell Shaker links two distant generations of the Billy family.
The novel begins in in Choctaw Mississippi , initially focusing on Red Shoes a historical Choctaw chief. Anoleta's mother, Shakbatina, sacrifices her life to save her daughter and avert a war between the tribes. Shakbatina's descendants live in Durant, Oklahoma in As fire destroys the land around them, the Choctaw chief Redford McAlester is murdered and assistant chief Auda Billy his lover is blamed. Susan Billy, her mother, confesses the murder and Isaac Billy her uncle gathers their scattered family to help with the investigation.
Plot threads include embezzlement, rape, money laundering and contributions to the Irish Republican Army and the Mafia , with a spiritual facet when an old woman claims to be Sarah Bernhardt. The novel explores a number of themes, particularly themes regarding the circular nature of time and issues of Native American identity.
With regard to time, the novel presents time as circular, and incapable of being divided into the past and the present. Connections over time are explored, including in the concept of a shilombish soul that is troubled in life, and casts a shadow that remains on a family until the problem is solved.
LeAnne Howe has done it. The narrative of Shell Shaker perfectly captures a sense of community in the way that the characters come together to support one another and solve the challenges facing their families and tribe. Loren D. Savage Conversations. HathiTrust Digital Library, Limited view search only. The Baba Yaga.
Howe also explores themes related to Choctaw traditions and legends. The novel uses the traditional Choctaw burial practices to show the connection between the body and the land. In speaking about the novel, Howe has explained that, "Native stories The novel also explores issues of identity. Howe has been praised for presenting the Billy sisters as "real" Indian women, who exercise autonomy in their careers, rather than marginalized figures or romanticized Indian princesses.
Other themes explored in the work are the power of words, which become real if spoken, and the Americanization of the Choctaw tribe. The novel has a number of motifs and images, with both murders occurring during the autumnal equinox. Burial rituals connect the novel's two time periods. Smoke is a screen between eras, becoming thicker as the stories begin to meet. Birds appear throughout the novel, which tells the story of the Grandmother of Birds who becomes a bird to punish Spanish invaders when her husband is killed.
Shell Shaker has been praised for emphasizing the importance of history in the lives of a Native American group as they deal with decolonization. Taos Pueblo scholar and critic P.