full title When the Legends Die
author Hal Borland
type of work Novel
genre Coming-of-age novel; young adult novel; Native American fiction
time and place written Early 1960s; the United States
date of first publication 1963
point of view This novel is narrated in the third-person omniscient voice.
tone Young, angry, tragic, desperate
setting (time) Approximately 1910 onward
setting (place) Piedra Town; Arboles; Horse Mountain; Pagosa; Bayfield; Aztec; Bernalillo; Carrizozo; Socorro; Eastern New Mexico; Oklahoma; Colorado; El Paso; Fort Stockton; Sonora; Fredericksburg; Uvalde Country; Odessa; Wolf Point; New York
protagonist Thomas Black Bull
major conflict Tom attempts to come to terms with his Ute heritage and to define his role in society.
rising action Tom's abandonment of his life in the wilderness; Tom's visit to Bayfield, during which he meets Red, who will instruct him in bronco riding
climax Tom dreams of the All-Mother, and she speaks to him, claiming him as her son.
falling action Tom resumes his life in the traditional Ute way.
themes The Search to Define Oneself; the sense of homelessness; resentment toward authority
motifs Comedy and tragedy; songs and chants; the novel's title
symbols The bear; colors; Tom Black Bull
foreshadowing Meo's prediction in Chapter 24 that Red's gambling and drinking behavior will result in his eventual death; Jim Woodward's warning to Tom about what to do if a bear should make trouble on the range.