Study Guide

Windigo What's Up With the Title?

By Louise Erdrich

What's Up With the Title?

In the case of "Windigo," the title is essential to dissecting the poem's meaning. Imagine, for a second, reading the poem without knowing its title. Who's doing the speaking here? And why does it have fur? Wait—why is it licking people's feet? This sounds like the most psychotic puppy ever.

Anyway, it's really hard to know what's going on here without the context Erdrich provides in the title, coupled with the introductory sentences explaining the significance of the Windigo figure in Chippewa tradition. It's likely the average reader isn't familiar with the term "windigo"… unless, of course, they were a fan of bad scary movies from the early 2000s. Seriously, there's a killer on the loose, and he's wanted—for the murder of tasteful horror filmmaking.

Ultimately, the simple one-word title provides context for what comes next, without giving too much away. But let's be real, she probably just went with "Windigo" because "Crazed Winter Demon Half-Beast Kidnaps and Possibly Cannibalizes Small Child" was already the name of a Stephen King book.

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