Study Guide

The Old Arikara Woman in The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge

By Michael Punke

The Old Arikara Woman

In one of the novel's most moving moments, Glass finds an old Arikara woman in the burnt remnants of her village, and he treats her with incredible kindness. It's a surprising scene that shows just how much compassion Glass is capable of.

After all, Glass has no real incentive to help this old dame. She's blind, for one thing, so he could easily just hang out on the other side of the village, and she'd be none the wiser. But that's not what Glass does. Instead, he goes out of his way to make her broth to eat (she doesn't have any teeth), filling "the cup three times before the old woman stopped eating and fell asleep" (1.13.15). In many ways, we can see this compassionate treatment as what Fitzgerald and Bridger should have done for Glass.

By the next morning, the old woman is dead. Continuing his respectful approach, Glass puts her body to rest on a funeral pyre, which is the method preferred by local tribes (and of Glass himself). Once again, we get to see the soft, chewy interior at the heart of our hardened mountain man.