Study Guide

Song of Hiawatha Part XVII: The Hunting of Pau-Puk-Keewis

By Henry W. Longfellow

Part XVII: The Hunting of Pau-Puk-Keewis

  • Hiawatha returns to his village to find the whole place turned upside down. Oh yeah, and his home has been totally trashed. He vows to track down Pau-Puk-Keewis and kill him no matter how far it takes him.
  • Pau-Puk-Keewis notices that Hiawatha is gaining on him fast, so he talks the King of the Beavers into turning him into a beaver—but not just any beaver. He wants to be ten times bigger than the other beavers. Once this is accomplished, Hiawatha finds him anyway because he can see PPK's spirit through his animal disguise. He kills him in his beaver body, but the spirit of PPK escapes and vanishes into the forest. Hiawatha realizes this and keeps chasing him.
  • Next PPK transforms himself into a brant and flies away. The other birds just warn him never to look down while he's flying. PPK gets away and Hiawatha chases him over the land. Eventually, PPK's curiosity gets the better of him and he looks down. A gust of wind catches him and knocks him to the earth, where Hiawatha is waiting for him.
  • Again, Hiawatha kills PPK. But the dude's spirit flies away again. He turns himself into a snake and hides in a tree. But Hiawatha smashes the tree to bits and PPK along with it.
  • PPK makes one last effort to hide by asking the god of the mountains to open his caves and hide him. PPK encloses himself in the mountains where even Hiawatha can't break through the rocks. But Hiawatha has friends too. He calls on the gods of thunder and lightning to attack the mountain. They show up and pulverize the stone until they kill PPK once and for all.
  • When Hiawatha finally has hold of PPK's spirit, he turns him into an eagle for some reason. It even seems like a bit of an honor to PPK. Hiawatha wants to make sure PPK never does harm to anyone in human form again. So now the dude is a bird, and if you ask us he got off a little easy on this one.