novel The Last Report on the Miracles at
Little No Horse follows the story of Father Damien. The novel begins with
the formation of a movement to have Sister Leopolda, formerly known as Pauline
Puyat, canonized due to the miracles she has presumably done (Erdrich 1).
However, Father Damien knows the dark truth of the neo dead nun, which he
learned from confession years ago. Notably, Damien did not say a word for all
those years because of the sacredness of confession but also because Sister Leopolda
knew his secret as well. As he reflects on his life, the reader comes to
understand that Father Damien was previously Agnes DeWitt. Agnes DeWitt, a country
girl who turned nun, then musical sensation, farmer and finally a priest.
Agnes’ life is complex as she embarks on her discovery and loss in her life as
she changes to be Father Damien.
discovers her sexual joy, evil and in the process losses a man that she loves.
Agnes then finds comfort in music and the piano until she is swallowed in the
biblical proportions and the new identity she has shaped. Agnes is guided by
her new appetite and unique sexual pledge to Christ that she accepts the role
of Father Damien Modeste and lives her life as a father in a place known as
Ojibwe or the Little No Horse (Erdrich 4). In this text, Erdrich used the
English language to tell the story of the people of Ojibwe
Damien finds himself in an interesting new life in the reservation of Little No
Horse. He becomes more invested in the people and begins to have a deep
understanding of their beliefs, relationships, and concerns of the people.
Father Damien baptizes the people and teaches the canon of the Catholic church.
He also vicissitudes their lives but not as much as they change his life.
Father Damien is able to form various relationships with various characters in
the story such as Nanapush, who is a tough-talking and sex-obsessed but astute
old Ojibwe. Father Damien also forges a bond with Lulu, who is beautiful but
stubborn. Other relationships that intertwine with Father Damien’s life include
that of Kashpaws, Lazzarres, Morrisseys, Lamtrines, and Pillagers. Notably,
these characters can be found in Erdrich’s other novels. For instance, Nanapush
who is Father Damien’s closest friend is also in the novel Tracks where he narrates the stories of his culture. Nanapush is a
relatively collected and reliable storyteller, who castoffs the white principles
and attempts to preserve the Ojibwe ethos despite the social burdens that
surround him (Erdrich 10). Nanapush is still represented as wise in the text Tracks, where he says that the land of
Ojibwe will help preserve the culture. Nanapush preserves the stories of the
community and narrates them to the younger generation. In his narrations,
Nanapush uses a very informal tone painted by sexual jokes and confidence.
Through these relationships, Father Damien is able to learn about the Ojibwe
Damien also witnesses the overwhelming 1919 influenza, the white people
grabbing the lands and the development of the Bingo Palace in Ojibwe. He also
witnesses the private desires, prayers, and the wrong doings of the Ojibwe
people. Therefore, when the Vatican sends someone to examine the holiness of
Sister Leopolda, Father Damien is evasive about the topic. Father Jude who was
sent from the Vatican encounters a different notion that he had imagined and
this changes what he had been sent to do.
his earlier text, Love Medicine
Erdrich gets to tell the reader about Sister Leopolda. In this text, the
readers are exposed to the evil side of sister Leopolda, maybe a reason why
Father Damien keeps on dodging Father Jude from the Vatican about her holiness.
Sister Leopolda has stabbed Marie Kashpaw in the palm using a fork and states
that Kashpaw has the stigmata. Sister Leopolda is also an opportunist who
represents problems in conversion. This makes it difficult for Father Damien to
vouch for her to the Vatican. Father Damien has to explain that Sister Leopolda
was Pauline Puyat before she was converted. Evidently, Sister Leopolda had a
difficult conversion, unlike Father Damien. Father Damien’s conversion was more
of materialistic in an attempt to gain a new identity.
Damien’s life changes significantly since becoming a father. He leads a new
life that requires him to be a man such as use her hips to open the door so
that nobody will know that he is a woman. He has to adapt to a new manner
thinking and speaking and also learn the Ojibwe language as well as the traditions
of the Ojibwe people. As such Father Damien befriends Nanapush the wise old man
who teaches him the traditions of the Ojibwe people. Father Damien changes
throughout the story especially as he comes to understand the Ojibwe people
from a personal level that he even refers to them as his people.
the story The Last Report on the Miracles
at Little No Horse Erdrich takes us through the life of transformation of
Father Damien who was previously Agnes DeWitt, a rural girl who turned nun,
then musical prodigy, farmer and finally a priest. Father Damien serves in
Ojibwe, Little No horse, where he teaches the people about the Catholicism and
the new beliefs. Father Damien Modeste changes the people’s lives, but in the
process, his life is significantly altered even in his disguise.