Review the writing topics below before reading the two essays.
Write your response in prose paragraphs, not as a list, and write at least
300 words on each essay, for a total of at least 600 words.
Be sure to include one or more specific quotations from the essays as evidence to
support your interpretations. Punctuate quotations correctly, and include the page numbers of
the quotations (citation). Page numbers should be cited as I have done for the quotations
below. Conclude your response by discussing the Closing Comment at the end.
1. Greg Sarris, “‘The Woman Who Loved a Snake’ and ‘What the People of Elem Saw’”
• Why is Mabel’s story about the woman who loved the snake confusing to Greg’s friend
Jenny, and why are Jenny’s questions about the story confusing to Mabel? Why, in your
opinion, are the two women unable to understand each other clearly? Identify the
important characters in Mabel’s story about the woman who loved a snake, and think
broadly in answering this question.
• How does Sarris describe the difficulties of having “ literate” questions for American
Indian oral stories? Discuss your interpretation of what Sarris means in stating that
Mabel’s “talk,” as he refers to the context of her storytelling, “interrupts” her listener’s
preconceptions about her and about her stories.
• Discuss Sarris’ key points about the limitations of writing’s ability to “ [recreate] oral
experience in given ways” (174). What are some of the ways writing shuts down the
larger experience of oral events, as Sarris explains it? Discuss Sarris’ view of how all who
are involved in the storytelling event – listener and teller – are part of making the
storytelling event meaningful.
• What questions does Greg ask Mabel about “what the people of Elem saw,” and what
do his questions clarify about the separation between them based on his Western
education? Discuss how Mabel’s responses to him point this separation out to Greg.
2. MariJo Moore, “Everyone Needs Someone”
• Discuss Moore’s complex feelings about her paternal Cherokee grandfather. What were
some of the causes for these feelings? Describe the relationship Moore outlines
between her Cherokee grandfather and white grandmother. How did they continue to
show that they cared for each other despite the fact that they no longer lived together?
• Moore addresses several aspects of Indian identity in this essay. Discuss some of the
issues Moore identifies as causing both and pride and shame around Native identity,
including the affects of non-Indian perceptions and historical policies.
• Why does Moore tell us she chooses to write about her own personal and family history,
even when some of those memories are painful? What is the larger goal she hopes to achieve through her writing, and do you think she achieves this? Explain why or why
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