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?
A Laguna Pueblo skyline, painted in 1931 by Norma Bassett Hall. Anyone who has dwelt for a brief moment in New Mexico has seen such sights.
To be honest, the jello slipped my attention. But then again I guess it didn’t. The image of looking through the screen door and the jell-o discussion she encounters reminded me (along with the whole Southwestern feel) of hot summer days and the only slight relief from the day’s heat found in entering a house. I guess it brought the story back around to familiar things. The meat was also a tie to reality. If Silva was simply a mountain spirit, why the rifle? Why the stolen meat? Why the fight with the white cowboy? Was this really her imagination taking hold while she hung out with a mountain dweller/cattle rustler? Like all of the stories in this section, there were disjointed parts that I found hard to track and understand.
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?
“What did I say?…You said what you shouldn’t have said! ..But I was supposed to say that…Yes, but you should not have said it..Don’t be stupid!” Photo of Middle Eastern Politicians in the 1950’s.
How do I feel? I’m grateful to have lived in America. That’s how I feel reading these stories. Leila’s father is a product of his world, as I am of mine. In pointing out the plight of women in the man-oriented world, Saadawi and especially Devi also illuminate the miserable existence of men who are trapped between what their hearts speak of as honorable and valid and how they find themselves in reality. Leila’s father is such a man. You can see by the way he thinks to himself that he should really stand up and take credit for being her father, that this is what “men like us” wait for their whole lives. The sad thing is although it is mentioned that he has suffered “pain and torture with her”, his deepest grief is for his own honor. He cannot breathe as a man, hold his head up, in spite of her achievement in the court room because she is defiled. He wanted to stand up and take in some reward, but all that is set aside as he covers his ears, he cannot bear to hear what the people are saying. He cannot know, that her own values are rested even deeper than her womanly virtue, but in her right to speak out. This is beyond his understanding, like Mr. Haldar, living in a mind formed in the time of the British Raj, he cannot comprehend such ideas.
How do I feel..Part of me wants to kick such weak men to the curb. But the realist in me knows that I have not walked in his shoes. I dislike cultures that turn their backs on those who are dealt brutal fates. But in our culture we make excuses for those who bring sad fate’s unto themselves and those they love, making hardship for everyone. Which is more humane?
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?
Emilio Zapata, the great rebel leader, who in spite of charisma, being well liked, and generally a powerful man, died anyway. He and his contemporary and sometime partner Pancho Villa, both ruthless men, died the way they lived. Death comes to us all.
Death is the constant in all things. All of creation, on earth and in the Universe pass away. So though I am not sure of the political intention of Marquez’ writing, (other than to highlight corrupt political office) it is clear that in spite of whatever power a man possesses, or whatever passion he bends to his will, death will still find him. I wasn’t all that impressed with this story. I didn’t find it earth shaking or particularly enthralling. If the point of the story was that death is constant, then it did not have much time to make any other points before the primary one won out. You meet the senator, he does his little show, walks through town, meets Laura and dies. That’s it. Death is the winner. It did have the feel of a seedy Mexican town along the western coastline, like something out of a Clint Eastwood movie. The story also reminded me of the Poncho Villa and Zapata era, when revolution swept the countryside. Turmoil and death were frequent as blood thirsty “leadership” replaced one corrupt politician with another. We American’s sometimes have a difficult time understanding that corruption is the way of the world. We go here and there, crusading to rid the earth of corruption, while our own politicians sit back chuckling to themselves. The world doesn’t understand us or our effort to be free of corruption. We are an “anomaly”..