Cover image for Pushing the bear : a novel of the Trail of Tears
Pushing the bear : a novel of the Trail of Tears
Glancy, Diane.

Personal Author:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt Brace & Company, c1996.
Physical Description:
241 p. ; 24 cm.


Call Number
Material Type
Bath - Dormann Library 1 FIC Adult Fiction Book
Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 FICTION Adult Fiction Book

On Order

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Glancy's novel is an exquisitely sad tale of the forced eviction of 13,000 Cherokee in 1838 from their lands in North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Known as the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee were forced to leave their homelands and walk 900 miles through four winter months to a reservation in Oklahoma; nearly a quarter of them died or disappeared along the way. In this fictionalized account of the forced march, Glancy introduces the reader to a young woman and her family who struggle to survive the torturous journey. As we follow Maritole and her husband, Knobowtee, we witness the horrors firsthand: cruelty, disease, fatigue, and especially sorrow, as the atrocities are played out by family members and dozens of other characters. Using the voices of both the captive Cherokee and the white soldiers, and subtly incorporating her extensive research on the subject, Glancy provides a moving firsthand account of a terrible moment in U.S. history. --Kathleen Hughes

Publisher's Weekly Review

Poet, dramatist, short-story writer and essayist Glancy (winner of an American Book Award for Claiming Breath) turns her talents to the novel, recreating in this bone-true tale the sorrow, struggle and betrayal suffered by the Cherokee along the Trail of Tears. In the winter of 1838-39, 13,000 Cherokee were forced to walk the Trail of Tears from North Carolina toward the "new territory" of present-day Oklahoma. Following the Native American belief that many voices are needed to tell a story, Glancy employs a multitude of narrators. There are the voices of Cherokee of all ages and clans, of white soldiers and preachers, and snatches from actual historical records. The central narrator, Maritole, emerges to tell her personal story of "pushing the bear," a dark heavy burden of anger, impending madness, physical distress and, above all, doubt in herself and her heritage as she perseveres in the grueling walk. Maritole's shaky relationship with her husband, and the deaths of her baby and parents, push her into a relationship with a white soldier, Sergeant Williams. Ultimately, however, he can't fathom the Cherokees' mystic, symbiotic relationships with the land and with each other. At times, the novel proceeds as slowly as the march itself, but it rewards the reader with a visceral, honest presentation of the Cherokee conception of story as the indestructible chain linking people, earth and ancestry‘a link that becomes, if not unmitigated salvation, then certainly a salve to the spirit. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

First novelist Glancy (Claiming Breath, LJ 3/92) prefaces her stunning narrative with a stark statement of fact: "From November 1838 to March 1839 some 11,000 to 13,000 Cherokee walked 900 miles in bitter cold from the southeast to Indian Territory. One fourth died or disappeared along the way." Drawing on these statistics and other surviving documentation, the author imaginatively re-creates a nearly unimaginable experience: the forced removal of the Cherokee peoples from their homes in four Southern states. The story is told in many voices, principally those of the uprooted‘Native men and women, conjurers, Christians, politicians, leaders, and rebels‘but also heard are the white soldiers, settlers, evangelists, sympathizers, oppressors, and opportunists who witnessed their passage to what is now Oklahoma. The fictional testimony creates a graphic and compelling mosaic of human tragedy. Highly recommended.‘Starr E. Smith, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, Va. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Google Preview