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?
I think that perhaps both the stolen beef and the Jell-o are both symbols of modernity. In this story, the main character is struggling with being identified as the Yellow Woman and sort of hangs on to clues that she is still in fact in her own day and age where things exist that did not exist in the days of these ancient tales which included the Yellow Woman. She references vehicles, there is mention of the kidnapper’s Levi’s and so forth. I think those things serve to break up the prevailing mood of being in this sort of eerie ancient story. Stolen beef is only stolen beef because in the modern day there are such things as cattle ranchers, and Jell-o certainly is not an element of folk lore. I think these elements exist in the story exactly for the purpose of breaking the prevailing folk lore-ish mood.
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?
The main character in this story semi-regularly references the anti-authoritarian views of her father and that he purposely taught these political views to his daughter. For me, this makes me feel affection for Leila Al-Fargani’s father because he took her seriously enough as a person to convey these lessons even though she is his daughter and not his son. When in court he does not claim her and rather behaves sort of cowardly, I didn’t loose affection for him immediately because it’s hard to see what good this would do. Upon retrospect however, had he stood and declared that he was her proud father, this may have served Leila’s spirit. Even though she was searching and searching for her mother, had he spoken up it may have given her the assurance of her mother’s love as well and this would have been a good thing for her. Ultimately, while the father seems decided that both she and him would be better off dead because of his perceptions of her lost virtue, I still don’t loose all affection. He was a dad in a horrible situation, probably doing his best and unknowing of how best to handle it.
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?
This story seems to be really concerned with the Senator’s looming diagnosis and impending death, as this is the theme that opens the story. I’m not even very convinced that the Senator really loves this girl he meets, but rather that he is grieving his own mortality and searching for something to feel good about. Throughout the story, death is constant and love is barely there, though he does make a last ditch effort to have it. I think the title suits the story but isn’t a very complex one.
Your sympathy towards the father in question 2 is really touching. I also didn’t feel like he was such an awful person. The writing seemed to leave it very open to the idea that good people can do unfortunate things, but that doesn’t make them terrible as human beings.