Diane Drake

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This study explores the theme of the hero and community in the works of Mari Sandoz. The hypothesis is that Sandoz believed in the concept of a world community so that her works are centered around the hero as community builder. Using the Lakota concept of the sacred hoop as the controlling metaphor for the study, I have asserted that Sandoz has illustrated in her novels, biographies, and histories that true heroes try to build and maintain the sacred hoop of community, but their efforts are continually thwarted by the weaknesses in themselves and society.

The study is organized around the three genres of biographies, histories, and novels that Sandoz uses in developing the theme of heroes as community builders. In her two biographies of community builders, Old Jules and Son of the Gamblin' Man, Sandoz describes the efforts of Jules Sandoz and John Cozad, respectively, to build homes for their families and for others on the Nebraska plains. Old Jules is the creative community builder who can work for others but cannot establish sound relationships with his own family and friends, and John Cozad is the ambitious developer who wants to help others, but whose aloofness prevents him from being a true part of the community.

In her histories, Crazy Horse and Chevenne Autumn, Sa.ndoz uses the Plains tribes to represent what the true community should be and how the visionary hero unites teat community. The ultimate destruction of both the hero and the Indian community are a result of the overwhelming forces of greed and power represented by the fragmented white community which seeks individual rather than communal gratification.

In Sandoz's four novels, Slogum House, Capital City, The Tom-Walker, and Miss Morissa, she illustrates how greed and will-to-power are th> forces that thwart the hero who seeks to build or to restore community. Only when heroes work with others in a communal act can they successfully defeat the selfishness that places the individual before the community.