Who Is The Speaker Of The Poem Windigo?

by Amy
Pastoral Poetry

“Windigo” is a haunting and evocative poem written by Louise Erdrich, a renowned author and poet of Ojibwe descent. This poem, deeply rooted in Indigenous folklore, presents a vivid portrayal of the Windigo, a mythological creature known in Native American cultures. Understanding the poem’s speaker is crucial to appreciating its thematic depth and cultural significance.

Overview of the Poem’s Themes and Background

Central Themes

The poem “Windigo” explores several central themes:

Folklore and Myth: The Windigo is a prominent figure in Algonquian mythology, often depicted as a malevolent spirit associated with cannibalism, cold, and insatiable hunger.

Fear: The poem captures the primal fear elicited by the Windigo’s presence, reflecting deeper human anxieties about survival and the unknown.

Transformation: The Windigo myth often involves themes of transformation, where humans become monstrous through greed or starvation.

Cultural and Mythological Background

The Windigo (or Wendigo) is a legendary figure in various Algonquian-speaking tribes, such as the Ojibwe, Cree, and Algonquin. It is often described as a giant, emaciated creature with a heart of ice and an insatiable appetite for human flesh. The Windigo embodies the dangers of isolation and the harsh winter environment, serving as a cautionary tale about the perils of greed and the breakdown of social order.

Analysis of the Speaker

Identifying the Speaker

In “Windigo,” the speaker is the Windigo itself. This choice of narrator is unconventional and powerful, providing an inside look at the creature’s perspective.

Narrative Perspective

The poem is narrated from the first-person perspective of the Windigo, offering an intimate and chilling glimpse into the mind of this fearsome entity. This perspective allows readers to experience the Windigo’s thoughts and motivations directly.

Shifts in Perspective

While the primary perspective is that of the Windigo, there are subtle shifts in tone that reflect the creature’s interaction with the human world. The narrative voice remains consistent, maintaining the eerie and predatory nature of the Windigo throughout the poem.

Characteristics of the Speaker

Traits and Tone

The Windigo, as the speaker, exhibits traits of coldness, hunger, and an eerie calmness. The tone is menacing and detached, emphasizing the creature’s otherworldly nature and its lack of human empathy.


The Windigo’s primary motivation is its insatiable hunger. This driving force is depicted vividly through the poem’s imagery and diction, highlighting the creature’s relentless pursuit of sustenance.

Influence on Mood and Themes

The speaker’s identity as the Windigo profoundly shapes the poem’s mood and themes. The Windigo’s predatory nature and hunger create a sense of impending doom and terror. This perspective reinforces the themes of fear and transformation, as the human characters in the poem are portrayed as vulnerable to the Windigo’s malevolent influence.

Interaction with Other Characters

Relationship with the Child

In the poem, the Windigo interacts with a child, a figure of innocence and vulnerability. This relationship is central to the poem’s narrative tension, as the Windigo’s pursuit of the child embodies the primal fear of being hunted by a monstrous force.

Development of the Narrative

The interaction between the Windigo and the child drives the narrative forward. The Windigo’s relentless approach and the child’s fear and helplessness create a stark contrast, enhancing the poem’s emotional impact and thematic depth.

See also: Who Wrote Monday’s Child Poem?

Literary Devices and Techniques


Erdrich uses vivid imagery to bring the Windigo to life. Descriptions of the Windigo’s physical appearance and the cold, desolate environment evoke a sense of dread and isolation.


The Windigo itself is a powerful symbol of unchecked greed and the breakdown of social norms. Its transformation from human to monster reflects the consequences of giving in to base instincts.


The diction in “Windigo” is carefully chosen to convey the creature’s otherworldly nature. Words associated with cold, hunger, and predation dominate the poem, reinforcing the Windigo’s identity and motivations.

Interpretation and Significance

Broader Context

The speaker’s role as the Windigo offers a unique perspective on the themes of fear and transformation. By narrating from the viewpoint of the predator, the poem delves into the psychology of the monstrous, challenging readers to confront their own fears and the darker aspects of human nature.

Cultural Significance

The Windigo’s perspective also highlights the cultural significance of this myth in Indigenous storytelling. The Windigo serves as a metaphor for social and moral decay, warning against the dangers of isolation, greed, and losing one’s humanity.


Understanding the speaker in Louise Erdrich’s “Windigo” is essential to fully appreciating the poem’s depth and complexity. The Windigo, as the speaker, shapes the poem’s mood, themes, and narrative through its cold, predatory perspective. By delving into the mind of this mythological creature, Erdrich explores themes of fear, transformation, and the consequences of giving in to primal instincts. This analysis reveals the enduring cultural significance of the Windigo myth and its powerful role in conveying moral and social lessons.

In summary, “Windigo” is a compelling poem that uses the unique perspective of a mythological creature to explore profound themes. By identifying and analyzing the speaker, readers can gain a deeper understanding of the poem’s emotional and cultural resonance.

FAQs about “Windigo” by Louise Erdrich

1. Who is the speaker of the poem “Windigo”?

The speaker of the poem “Windigo” is the Windigo itself, a mythical creature from Native American folklore. The poem is narrated from the first-person perspective of this malevolent spirit.

2. Who is the speaker of the poem?

In “Windigo,” the speaker is the Windigo, a mythical figure known for its insatiable hunger and cold, predatory nature. The use of the Windigo as the speaker provides a unique and chilling perspective on the poem’s events.

3. Where does the speaker take the child in “Windigo”?

In the poem “Windigo,” the speaker (the Windigo) takes the child into the depths of the forest. This journey symbolizes the Windigo’s abduction of the child, leading them into a cold and dark wilderness, away from the safety of home.

4. What is the theme of the poem “Windigo”?

The poem “Windigo” explores themes such as fear, transformation, and the clash between innocence and monstrosity. It delves into the primal fear of being hunted by a malevolent force and the transformation that occurs when one succumbs to their darkest instincts. The Windigo myth also reflects broader themes of cultural and moral decay.

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