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Excellent/Interesting Observations and Questions

Here are the names of the people who got "+'s" on their reading responses for Week XIII, along with excerpts from people's observations and a list of the "top 10+" questions asked. (Note: when listing the questions, I'll always copy the wording from the first time the question was asked and put the author's name first in the list of names in parentheses after the question, so that everyone who asked a roughly similar question gets some recognition, but the first person who asked it gets more.)

Week XIII: Joyce/Erdrich/Bowen/B>

Honor Roll: Stephanie Armstrong, Celeste Creel, Jim Degolyer, Marcy Gambino, Jason Golubski, Heather Koski, Mike Krauklis, Sarah McNaughton, Holli Neal, Kelly Rosemellia.


Top 10+ Questions

1. Why do you think Erdrich chose not to tell the story through Fleur and give the reader some insight into what she is thinking? (Marcy Gambino)

2. What was the overall purpose of [Joyce's] story? Was it really about ghosts or more political in orientation? (Jake Proper) What passage [in "The Dead"] do you think best clues the reader in to the point/what the story is truly about? (Holli Neal) Do the two narrators [in Tracks] have set agendas? Why do their angles on Fleur seem different? (Jeff Green) Do you think that each characters point of views are reliable interpretations of the story? (Alex Herrera) Why does the author keep jumping back and forth between Nanapush and Pualine? What is the relationship between them, if any? (Jinny Compton, Stefanie Evans, Heather Koski, Jamie Coniglio, Stephanie DiBlasi, Jeff Green, Liza Infantino, Alex Herrera, Melissa Lancia, Kristen Konieczny) Why does Erdich have to use two separate narrators instead of one? I would think she would be concerned with confusing the reader and turning them off to her work. (Amelia Vanni) Why, if both narrators take her is not the same, then why do they both incorporate drowning into their story? What does this signify? Why is Eldrich writing these sotries? (Heather Koski) Is there any important significance to the fact that Louise Erdrich has organized the chapters according to seasons and years, is this reflecting a reasone for the years? (Sarah McNaughton, Jessica Sandeen) This book seems to go in chronoligical order what advantages are achieved by this rather then havin a lot of flashbacks such as in Beloved? (Ryan Destro) Does Tracks have an agenda? Is it attempting to promote respect for the Native American heritage? (Jeff Green) Why did Erdrich chose this time period for the story? (Jim Degolyer)

3. I noticed the word tracks used numerous times and in different contexts. I have thought of a few different interpretations. Could the title be used as a symbol of following in one's family/ancestores footprints? Could this be a reference to Fleur and her ghost? Or could it be a literal meaning about the white men coming and taking their land? (Stephanie Armstrong) What's up with Fluer's tracks changing? Is she and the lake (monster, ghost,... etc) linked in some way? (Jim Degolyer) Water can bring death or cleanliness. It can be still, flow with great force, and freeze into a solid state. How are these properties of water relevant to how it is used in the novel? (Will Smith)

4. Why didn't the surviving members [in Tracks] want to speak the Dead ones names? Was it culturly or was it because they just couldn't bear to ? (Mike Copella) Are the characters afraid to relive their pasts and therefore will not speak the names of the dead? (Alex Herrera) When the narrator was describing the people that dies from this sickness (consumption), he said "I wished each spirit a good journey on the three day road." What can this tell us about the beliefs of the afterlife for this tribe (or in a broader sense, this culture)? (Stephanie Armstrong, Jim Degolyer) On page 5, It says alot about how they would all be together on the journey then, their destination being the village at the end of the road where people gamble all day and night but never lose their money, eat but never fill their stomachs, drink but never leave their minds. Is this place Heaven?? (Megan Hulbert, Tom Priester) Why is there so much about the devil in Bowen's, does this mean something in particular to his Seneca tribe? Are there vast differences with the New York VS. North Dakota Indian folklore? (Beth Karnyski) First, why is their so much alcohol and gambling [in Bowen's stories]? Also, why is card playing looked upon as such a bad act? There are two stories in which the devil comes as a result of people playing cards, why does the devil not come when the drink as well? (Ryan Barone) In comparison on Erdrich and Bowen, both stories seem to deal with the devil in a different way. The two stories are told by Native Americans. Does this in any way say something about their culture and how their ghosts come back to haunt them in their unusual way? Is there any thing in connection with the devil? Both authors seem to say something about the haunting being from the devil. Why doesn't the people in the story recognize who the devil is? Why is it only after they start to gambling? Is there any connection between gambling and the devil? (Theresa O'Hern, Tom Priester) What is the significance of the church's in this story? Most native americans are not (at least older natives) christians. (Jim Degolyer)

5. Pauline, the female narrator, seems to be able to see things about [Fleur] that the men are incapable of seeing themselves. Her "sly brown eyes" and "strong, sharp...very white" teeth, for instance. What is she? The passage alludes to the fact that she is more than the flesh. This raises issues about the nature of Native American ghosts, specifically, in what form do they exist? Are ghosts bound to be transparent, intangible beings as we often imagine them (i.e. Slimer from (the real) Ghostbusters or the typical poltergeist) or can they manifest themselves in physical form, like the sitting ghost from The Woman Warrior? Where does the definition of ghost stop and start? (Russ Leo)

6. What is the relationship between Nanapush and Fleur? Or how about Nanapush and Pauline? Pauline seems so envious of Fleur but is always wanting to be right by her side. Why is this? (Stephanie DiBlasi) Is Nanapush the only man that got close to Fluer and did not die? (Heather Giambrone) What is the connection between Nanapush and Fleur, on page 33 it states, "'Nanapush. That's what you'll be called. Because it's got to do with trickery and living in the bush. Because it's got to do with something a girl can't resist. The first Nanapush stole fire. You will steal hearts.'" (Kelly Rosemellia) Why was he the ony one that would take her in and help her? I know that he thinks of her as a daughter, but was there another reason? (Noelle Dull) Does Fluer have a deal with the Devil the lake monster? (Heather Giambrone) Was there some sort of ties between the significance of the water and Fleur? (Sheryl Harvey, Cindy Stevens) Why doesn't Fleur ever die? Does or what is her connection with the water man, Misshepeshu, and is the water man real to this culture or an old myth or legend? (Kelly Rosemellia) On page 31 when Pauline is describing Fleur's baby is she using monster traits (the sea monster), or is she comparing the baby to a Native American baby? (Kristine Cuomo) One of the first descriptions of [Fleur] states, "she was wild as a filthy wolf, a big bony girl whose sudden bursts of strength and snarling cries terrified the listening Pukwan." This seems to have an underlying meaning, but what is it? Is this trying to say that Fleur really isn't human? Is she indeed a ghost? (Chris Metot, Jessi Scirto, Amy Carlson, Sarah Boyle, Jamie Coniglio, Kelly Rosemellia) Does Fleur possess some sort of supernatural powers? They say she drowned more than once, as if she has lives to use up? Did she really drown though? Also, does Pauline have supernatural powers? Did she really control Eli and Sophie, or was she just influential in what happened? (Stephanie Stoddard, Nate Cooper, MIke Krauklis) Nanapush does not come out and say that Fleur is pregnant, but hints at it indirectly many times. Could the baby be a result of the possible rape and what would Erdrich's reason be for including this in the story? (Sarah McNaughton)

7. [In Tracks,] is there any relation to the 'invisable people' mentioned on page one and the invisable sickness on page 6? Are the people dying of the 'invisable sickness of grief and loss or a unknown virus? (Adam Di Palma) In class we discussed the "invisible sickness" as being depression, what are some other possible suggestions? (Amelia Vanni)

8. Why does Gabriel have such different feelings for his country than everyone else? (Holli Neal) What is wrong with Freddy Malins? Besides the fact that he is always drunk, he seems like an okay guy. Why does everyone avoid him? Why does Gabriel dislike Mr. Browne so much? He always acts polite toward him but it seems like he hates him. (Jake Proper) Why didn't Pauline help Fleur when the men went after her? (Noelle Dull) Why do the men, including Nanapush seem to resent Pauline? (Sarah McNaughton) Why was Eli's mother so upset that her son found a woman he was in love with? Why couldn't she be happy for her son? (Jason Golubski) What is the deal with Margaret? Why doesn't she like Fleur? Is she just being an overprotective mother or does she know something else about Fleur (aka, like that she's not alive??)? (Stephanie Armstrong) Why does Margaret quickly change her views about Fleur, is it because she thinks Fleur's child is her grandchild, or does she have other motivations? (Kelly Rosemellia) Why was Eli's mom so againist him marrying Fleur in the begining but in the end she ends up living with them and seems to drop her fight againist Fleur? Why does Sophie go to the Pillager house when she escapes from the wagon? Does she go on her own accord or does something draw her there? Is Sophie's catatonic state simply the result of the trauma she had endured or does Fleur have some sort of trance over her? (Marcy Gambino) In "The Ghost on the Bridge," why does the uncle jump out at his nephew on a bike? Does he want to get hit? (Ryan Barone)

9. When Father Damien was introduced, I immediately thought of the conflict within his name. He is a priest who's name is a common name for Satan. Could there be any significance there? (Tom Priester) There is usually a significance to Native Americans names, they usually stand for something. What does Nanapush stand for? (Jeffrey Ciminesi)

10. I have a question about Bowen's stories. Do these stories have any direct bearing on the Indian culture that he grew up in? Are they real life situations/happenings? Or are they just stories? (Jinny Compton) Do you think that, depending on which was written first, Morrison had any influnce on Erdrich or vice versa? I mean there are a lot of things that are really similar between the 2 novels. maybe Morrison and Erdrich are friends.... (Jamie Coniglio) On page 7 one of the names of the dead that filled them was Chokecherry Girl. Is there any significance in this compared to Beloved? (Jeffrey Ciminesi, Mike Krauklis, Melissa Lancia)

11. What actually happened at Argus? I thought that she killed the men but then it says sometihng about hearing one of the men breathing. (Jessi Scirto) What happened to Fleur after she won the card game? It seems as though she was killed by the men and that her ghost controlled the tornado but then she comes back later in the book. I am puzzled by this. (Mike Krauklis)

12. Who exactly is Misshepeshu? (Nate Cooper, Jessica Sandeen) Could the bear at the bottom of page 46 be related to the bear on page 58? (Jason Golubski)

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EN 209: Novels and Tales, Spring 1999
Created: 5/12/99, 3:13 pm
Last modified: 5/12/99, 3:13 pm