Study Guide

Windigo Stanza 4

By Louise Erdrich

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Stanza 4

Lines 16-19

I stole you off, a huge thing in my bristling armor.
Steam rolled from my wintry arms, each leaf shivered
from the bushes we passed
until they stood, naked, spread like the cleaned spines of fish.

  • Here, the Windigo, like an animal with bristling fur, snatches up and escapes with the young child.
  • While every other stanza in the poem has five lines, this one only has four. This tactic of changing stanza length can be used to draw the reader's eye to a specific place on the page. Erdrich could also be doing this here to signal a transition in the poem's content, as stanza 4 is where the Windigo successfully takes the child.
  • (Check out "Form and Meter" for more on the poem's overall design.)
  • Death seems to follow the Windigo wherever he goes; think about Erdrich's use of simile in the morbid image she offers in the last line, referring to these bushes that are literally dying in the Windigo's presence, naked "like the cleaned spines of fish." This comparison puts us in mind of food again, as one might leave the cleaned spines of a fish behind after chowing down on it.

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