Book Analysis Assignment

Book Analysis Assignment
You are to choose one of the books listed below and produce an original essay of at least 5, but
no more than 8, pages. Depending on the book chosen, your essay is due no later than the
beginning of class on March 17th (Death); March 31st (Power), April 21st (Gardens; Watermelon),
or May 12th (Morning). The length requirement should give you an idea of the level of analysis
needed to fulfill this assignment. No more than eight students may read the same book. To that
end, there is a sign-up sheet taped to my office door. You are to PRINT your name next to the
title of the book you will be reading and analyzing. The sooner you do this, the sooner you’ll be
able to get started reading and writing.
Your essay should explore the major themes in your chosen work(s) that make up the worldview
of the author and the native peoples that form the main subjects of the material. You should
relate your discussion in some fashion to the section of the course covering the same area. All
of the books take place in the more recent past, so one constant theme is what connection
exists between the world views of past and present.
This assignment should involve a creative and interpretive effort on your part. Your essay must
not be a book report. Assume that your reader has already read the book and knows the plot.
You are writing to interpret elements of an expressed world, and to make connections between
the work you have read and topics that we have encountered in our study of Native American
history and culture.
Before reading, and most importantly, before writing your analysis, please read carefully the
document "A Checklist for Better Writing."
You are encouraged to meet with me individually or in small groups to discuss your focus for the
assignment during my office hours (see above), or by making an appointment at another
mutually convenient time. Please begin to think about your essay content before meeting with
me about a topic. The purpose of this meeting is to allow me to answer questions that you might
have about the reading or assignment, and perhaps help to define or refine the theme(s) that
you will pursue in your essay.
Note: In fairness to the other students in the class, I do not accept late essays except in
extreme and properly documented circumstances. I am, however, willing to help to resolve
difficulties that you might have with the essay or the deadline as long as you speak to me about
the matter before the assignment due date. A late essay will be graded down one full grade for
each week the essay is late. No exceptions.
Book Choices
The Death of Bernadette Left Hand, by Ron Querry (Choctaw):
Set in Southwest. Strange circumstances surrounding the death of Bernadette Left Hand.
Apache and Taos, set in NM and AZ among Navajo, Pueblo and Apache in the last 2 decades.
About conflicting world views, not only white and Indian. Also about contemporary panIndianism: what it is, what it is not, and how we have created the complex relationships among
Indian peoples and Whites in addition that exist today.
Power, by Linda Hogan (Chickasaw):
When sixteen-year-old Omishto, a member of the Taiga Tribe, witnesses her Aunt Ama kill a
panther-an animal considered to be a sacred ancestor of the Taiga people-she is suddenly torn
between her loyalties to her Westernized mother, who wants her to reject the ways of the tribe,
and to Ama and her traditional people, for whom the killing of the panther takes on grave
Gardens of the Dunes, by Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo):
Indigo, a young girl lives with her mother, her older half-sibling Sister Salt, and Grandmother
Fleet near the CA-AZ border. Sometimes they live in a lush, spring-fed refuge in the dunes, the
ancestral home of the Sand Lizard People, where they grow a variety of foods. White soldiers
and Indian policemen break up their lives and set a series of journeys in motion. Indigo travels
across the United States, the Atlantic Ocean, and part of Europe; her sister remain closer to
their longed-for home. Indigenous and Imperial epistemologies meet in the process
Watermelon Nights, by Greg Sarris (Federated Coast Miwok):
A sweepingly epic story that also manages to maintain an intimate focus on the lives of an
American Indian family living in Sonoma County. Grandmother, mother, son: Three generations
of the Waterplace Pomo tribe take a bumpy (and often tragic) ride through the 20th century.
This tough-minded tale of poverty, prejudice, and violence plays out, like Sarris' 1994 book,
Grand Avenue, in the streets and fields of Santa Rosa and Sebastopol.
The Morning The Sun Went Down, by Darryl Babe Wilson (Achumawe Atsugewi):
Born into the Achumawi and Atusgewi tribes (often called the Pit River Nation) of northeastern
California, Darryl Babe Wilson's early years were spent with his parents and eight brothers and
sisters, in a world still rich in Indian tradition, feeling, and language. Through this compelling
autobiography, we experience both the beauty of the Indian world and the deep tragedies of his
young life, and celebrate his triumphant journey to adulthood. Wilson has blended Native
American myths with stories of youthful innocence and experience to produce a richly textured,
lyrical, and unforgettable memoir.