Study Guide

Song of Hiawatha Part IX: Hiawatha and the Pearl-Feather

By Henry W. Longfellow

Part IX: Hiawatha and the Pearl-Feather

  • One day, Nokomis looks toward the western sky and tells Hiawatha that a magician named Pearl-Feather lives in that direction. Pearl-Feather is bad because he hoards all kinds of food and wealth, and keeping a bunch of stuff for yourself isn't encouraged in a tight-knit village. Oh yeah, and Pearl-Feather has been sending famine and disease to Hiawatha's people. Oh yeah, and this magician apparently killed Nokomis' father. That's strike three, pal.
  • Nokomis would like Hiawatha to go defeat Pearl-Feather, but the dude is guarded by fire serpents that swim in black water.
  • When he comes near Pearl-Feather's hideout, Hiawatha runs into the fiery serpents. They tell him to head home and call it a day, but he responds by killing them all with arrows.
  • All the animals that live in the area cheer Hiawatha on because they're sick of the evil Pearl-Feather making their lives horrible.
  • Hiawatha fires a single arrow at Pearl-Feather's wigwam and calls him to come outside. The dude comes outside and happily engages in battle with Hiawatha.
  • Hiawatha does everything he can, but he can't find any way to hurt Pearl-Feather because the baddy is wearing some magical shirt.
  • By the first evening, Hiawatha is wounded and getting more tired by the minute. He leans against a tree and a woodpecker tells him about Pearl-Feather's weakness. Apparently, you can kill him by hitting him right on the crown of his head.
  • Hiawatha says, "Thanks woodpecker" and fires three arrows directly at the crown of Pearl-Feather's head. The trick works and Hiawatha kills the evil magician.
  • Hiawatha stains the top of the woodpecker's head with Pearl-Feather's blood as a token of thanks, and that's why woodpeckers have that little tuft of red feathers on their heads today (the more you know...).
  • Hiawatha goes home and divides Pearl-Feather's riches evenly among his people.