Art Thou Yellow Woman?

Discussion Questions 14 — Devi; Marquez; Saadawi; Silko

1. In Silko’s “Yellow Woman,’ what do the stolen beef and the Jell-o have in common? How do these elements break the prevailing mood?

The stolen beef and jell-o have in common a reality to this young, Pueblo Indian woman’s relationship with the Maverick Navajo. She remembers the stories she used to be told about the “Yellow Woman” and the Mountain spirit who captured her. It was almost like this was the “crystal-ball” story to her life. So, now she is trying to figure out…was she really “Yellow Woman” and the only big difference from the stories and her actual life was the food. The food in larger part, represented something I feel almost like yin and yang.

The meat, was always bad memories. She found this stranger down by the river and got caught up in the excitement of being “Yellow Woman” that she couldn’t tell if she was her or the woman that belong to the Pueblo people who was married, had a child and home to return back to. She didn’t realize that she wasn’t Yellow Woman until she was afraid Silva was going to kill the rancher after he got caught with the stolen meat. She decided to return home and tell her family what happened to her.

The jello, being the opposite was of happy thoughts. It was her mother and grandmother talking of how to make jello, the domesticity of the picture of her home. Her husband playing with their child. It was everything that she wanted but didn’t know she knew. Jello can be molded how ever you choose, but meat cannot especially when the meat was never yours to begin with. (Stolen meat…she was “stolen”..get it?)

2. After reading Saadawi’s “In Camera,’ how do you feel about Leila Al-Fargani’s father? Upon what evidence do you base your judgement?

There was a   class mate, I am sorry I forgot your name and I just read your post! That you said you did not like to read stories about cheaters…I feel the exact same way about stories like this. Not just about woman’s rights but stories that depict such awful things like rape and the fact that no one was on her side. Or no one that could help her. “In Camera” means “In Private” typically where the public can’t view certain things. I feel like this went for Leila’s father. He didn’t want to be seen by the public because he was so embarrassed by his daughter. He shrunk down, belittled himself and took no support for her all because he thought the whole thing was dishonorable to their family.

I might get ridicule for this but I feel no type of way about he felt. I can only say if it were me, it would be different. He was weak and his love for his daughter did not outshine what society expected from him family. It is almost like parents today, a lot of parents disown their children for being gay for example. Being gay is not wrong, in my opinion. Neither was what Leila did, voicing an opinion. But because of the society is was taken to a whole different level. Her father because he was so consumed in their society, thought it was better for her to be gone than to suffer society’s wrath. My love would have definitely won over what society needed. No one is going to hurt my child the way that Leila was treated. But I can’t feel any type of way about a person because the evidence just is not there for me to have a concrete opinion.

3. What is the importance of the title of the story “Death Constant Beyond Love’? What does it tell us about the stories central thematic concerns?

Death beyond love is very appropriate…for the tone of this story. Senator Sanchez was diagnosed and told he had only 6 months and eleven days to live. He was happily married and had kids, but when he was walking he bumped in to a Devil’s island escapee, Nelson Farina who had a daughter the Senator Sanchez became fascinated with, named Laura.
Nelson needed new identification so he used Laura to make the Senator solve all his issues. He knew the Senator would cheat on his wife and try to have sex with Laura. He tries, but finds out she has a chastity belt on. Finally he gives in, but instead of having sex with her, he tells her to just lay with him because, “It’s good to be with someone when you’re alone.”  Everyone may not always have a love, but everyone will always have death. Not only that but it does not matter what kind of love you are in, if it death is coming…it’s going to come. I guess that is what the Senator thought. He knew he was going to die and he threw all of his life out the window.

4 thoughts on “Art Thou Yellow Woman?

  1. jtodd

    I totally agree with you when you say Leila Al-Fargani’s father is weak and is more concerned with what society thinks. I have also seem parents who are humiliated and shamed by their children. I do not understand how a parent can let society dictate how they should feel about their children.

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  2. Mary Filbin

    I like how you found a way to see Yellow Woman in the Jell-o and the beef, and brought a wider view to the story and more dynamic. I can also see how it is hard to relate to the father in Leila’s story. In other cultures there are very different views on what being a good father/daughter means. Take the differences from American parents and those in a Taliban society. Definitely one way is a lot more citizen friendly, but both still exist until some one changes it.

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  3. sxkristoffersen

    I really liked how you broke down the first question. Using the food to represent dark verse light moods was well done. I also enjoyed reading your other analyses too, especially for question number two. Because it was culture which led her father to act as he did, there was no other option.

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  4. bdfleagle

    I agree with Mary, you found a way to look at the beef and jell-o in a much broader term. It didn’t look much beyond the thought of “Jell-o”, ..odd choice. But that’s my sense of humor for you. I can imagine her mother getting a little impatient with the grandmother explaining not only how to make Jell-o, ..but why in the hell you would bother with such a thing. Probably has grandmother stumped.

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