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Excellent Observations and Questions

Here are the names of the people who got "+'s" on their reading responses for Week II, 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 II: Chesnutt, Bruchac, Butler

Honor Roll: Brad Beck, Andrea Caccese, Celeste Creel, Brandon Erick, Heather Giambrone, Jason Golubski, Jeff Green, Alex Herrera, Kris Krajewski, Russ Leo, Holli Neal, Beth Prechtl, Tom Priester, William Smith.

Excerpts


Top 10+ Questions

1. Could it be possible that Sandy as the tree is symbolic for the status of blacks post-slavery? If this is possible, might the tree symbolize how even after the slaves were freed, they were in a sense still "slaves" to the white man? Might Julius himself also be a more obvious symbol of this same issue? (Andrea Caccese)

2. Why did Sandy have to be constant part of the plantation? Why could he never escape? (Heather Giambrone, Brad Beck, Kristine Cuomo) Why didn't [Sandy] want more freedom by becoming an animal? (Noelle Dull, Kristen Konieczny, Theresa O'Hern, Liza Infantino, Megan Hulbert, Lindsay Robinson, Jamie Coniglio, Nate Cooper, Alex Herrera) Was Sandy freed in a way by becoming a tree? Despite being cut down He now supposedly resides forever in the old schoolhouse, instead of dying in slavery. Would tenie be comforted by that thought? (Jesse Reiter, I'Lema Codrington)

3. How does Chestnutt change the style of this genre of stories [the plantation tradition/the "haunted house" story]? (Andrea Caccese) What is the signifigance of the fact that the author uses black dialect, especially in light of the period in which the story was written and the authors race? (Alex Herrera, Melissa Lancia)

4. What was the motivation for the telling of the story? I wonder if the primary reason Julius told the story was to secure a place to worship, or was it to help the young couple gain some insight and a little respect for his heritage? (Ryan Barone, Mike Krauklis, Nate Cooper, Rob Lefferts) So why did Chestnut write this story? I believe that lies with Chestnut, we can only guess, was it to show black sacrifice, or just a tale of the supernatural? (Mike Copella, I'Lema Codrington, Jeff Green) What is [Chesnutt] trying to convey about slavery? That the slaves were helpless or that they had strong religious beliefs? (Kris Krajewski) Is ["Po' Sandy"] still relevant in our contemporary society? (Russ Leo) If the narrator of "Bone Girl" is Russel Painter, then what kind of relationship does the author have with the story? (Holli Neal, JIm DeGolyer)

5. Julius is a Baptist, but he is telling a story about voodoo (ghost story), so why did the author [Chesnutt] combine them? (Heather Giambrone, Heather Koski, Russ Leo) Was it coincidence that Sandy wound up dying at the hands of a "cunjuh 'oman" who wasn't sure if her action was sinful or not (see top of p. 48) and ultimately becoming literally and structurally part of a Baptist Church? Was the author trying to show a case of magic or religious backfire in this case by making both Sandy and Tenie suffer? (Brad Beck)

6. What is the real reason that Sandy becomes a ghost? What are his motives and what did he leave unfinished? Was he angry at Tenie for turning him into a tree and not saving him? Was he that in love with Tenie, or was he angry at his master for making him go from plantation to plantation, which resulted in him being turned into a tree? (Kelly Rosemellia, Jeffrey Ciminesi) When Sandy was turned into a tree and cut down and used for the church, why would he have a reason to haunt the place? (Kristen Konieczny) Why would Sandy's ghost not haunt the chusch congregation? Or as it said that if the spirit did "stray into a meeting, no doubt the preaching would do it some good." Are ghosts selective about who they will torment and when they will do it? And did Sandy's ghost only haunt the white people that had opressed him?? (Stephanie Armstrong) I also wondered why Sandy bothered the slaves? They had done nothing wrong to him, at least nothing was mentioned in the story. Why wouldn't Sandy just bother his former master? (Jessica Scirto) Is it possible that Julius believed that the ghost would disturb only whites and not those at a gospel service. Could he have, after all been trying to protect her? (Celeste Creel) And, if the story was true, why did Julius want to have the schoolhouse if he and everybody else knew it was haunted? (Noelle Dull, Stephe Stoddard, Stephanie Armstrong, Jessica Scirto) Do you think that the Sandy would have really been happy having the schoolhouse turned into a church? (Kristine Cuomo) What was Bone Girl when she was alive? What happened to her that makes her stay among the living and "haunt" the reservation? Or was Bone Girl ever alive at all? Maybe she just was always there. What are Bone Girl's intentions? Is she just a ghost who watches over people and tries to put them back on the right track or is she something else? (Jake Proper, Jason Golubski, Holli Neal)

7. What is the idea behind 'cute indians' [in "Bone Girl"]? Why was the writing instructor trying to push his ideas of Native Americans on his students? (Jason Golubski)

8. Does the former slave believe the story himself? (Kris Krajewski) Should Julius be decieving the couple, is he wrong in doing so? (Russ Leo) I didn't get the ending: Was it supposed to be funny? Or was it just an attempt of the author to quickly conclude the story? (Rob Lefferts)

9. At the end of the ghost story the wife says "poor tenie". I think this very ironic because of the story had to with sandy and all the tragedies that occured. This leads me to ask " why does she say poor tenie"? Is thinking about tenie connect the wife to the story? (Chris Metot)

10. What connection can you make between Po' Sandy and the analogy of a the tree to the story in Chataqua Ghosts, Prudence and Charity Chatham (hint: first paragraph, reference to the flowers and tree stumps)? (Sarah McNaughton)

11. In this story, Russell makes the point that, "The best stories we can tell, are always the stories where the jokes are on ourselves" Does this statement carry any validity? (Ryan Destro)

12. Is there a difference between folklore and ghost stories, and if so, what would this be considered as? (Stephanie Armstrong)

13. I was intrigued by one particular question asked in this story. are ghosts outsiders? The author stated that this is the way most white people view them. I want to know why, why do we treat them this way? At one point or another throughout time all ghosts had some sort of body, just because they're body is gone, why should they be treated any differently? (Jessica Sandeen)


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EN 209: Novels and Tales, Spring 1999
Created: 2/17/99, 8:35 pm
Last modified: 2/17/99, 8:35 pm