Study Guide

Song of Hiawatha Part IV: Hiawatha and Mudjekeewis

By Henry W. Longfellow

Part IV: Hiawatha and Mudjekeewis

  • Now we get to see Hiawatha grow from childhood into adulthood. Apparently, he grows so strong that he can shoot and arrow and then outrun it.
  • Hiawatha asks Nokomis what happened to his mother, and she tells him all about his jerk of a father. Hiawatha is so angry that he vows to track down and kill his father. Nokomis tells him to forget about it because she thinks his dad will totally own him in a fight.
  • Eventually, Hiawatha arrives into the kingdom of the West-Wind and finds his father. His father is pumped to see him and proud of what an impressive young man he's grown into. They sit down together and chat for days about how their lives have been going. Mudjekeewis adds insult to injury by bragging about what a great ladies man he used to be. Finally, Hiawatha asks his dad if he has any weaknesses—because, you know, that's the sort of thing that would make anyone curious. Mudjekeewis says nothing can hurt him except a particular black rock on the horizon. Mudjekeewis then asks Hiawatha man to man if he has any particular weaknesses. Hiawatha lies and says that his is a particular bulrush. When Mudjekeewis reaches out to grab the bulrush, Hiawatha pretends to be scared.
  • The two go back to talking about Hiawatha's brothers (the Wind guys), and Hiawatha finally bursts out and accuses his father of causing his mother's death. Mudjekeewis admits this is true and seems like he's actually really ashamed of it.
  • Hiawatha grabs the black rock that Mudjekeewis listed as a weakness and throws it at the guy. But Mudjekeewis was lying just like Hiawatha was. Obviously, the bulrush doesn't work on Hiawatha either, so the two fall into some good ol' fashioned fist-fighting.
  • Eventually, Mudjekeewis turns and retreats, but Hiawatha is hot on his trail. They run for three days.
  • Finally, Mudjekeewis turns and tells Hiawatha that he (Muddy) can't be killed because he's immortal. This has all been a big test to see how great Hiawatha is. He tells Hiawatha to return to his village and slay all the monsters, just like Mudjekeewis killed the mean old bear. Then, when it's all over and Hiawatha is about to die, Mudjekeewis promises to share his kingdom with his son.
  • Hiawatha seems satisfied with this promise, so he heads home feeling good about what he's accomplished.
  • On his way home, Hiawatha stops to buy some arrowheads from an old craftsman. He spies the man's daughter (whose name is Minnehaha) and falls in love with her. He tells his grandmother he's in love as soon as he arrives home.