Writing Assignment on
Leslie Marmon Silko's "Yellow Woman"

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Write on one of the following topics:

Topic A. Read carefully the version of the traditional story of Yellow Woman -- "Whirlwind Man Steals Yellow Woman" -- by Paula Gunn Allen (p. 1416f).  Describe a number of differences you notice in the facts of the two narratives (this one and Silko's).  Assuming that Allen's version is something close to what Silko herself heard from her grandfather as a young girl, pick a couple of these changes and say what you think led Silko to make them.

Topic B.  How does Silva's character fit the nature suggested by the name "Whirlwind Man"?  (Begin by asking what are whirlwinds like, and what do they do?)  Be sure to be as thorough as possible in discussing the relevant facts about Silva.

Topic C.  The characters in Silko's story are aware of the traditional story.  What are their attitudes to it?  How do they apply it?  How do they reject its application to their situation?

Topic D.  In Allen's narrative, the traditional story is recalled and reflected on by a character named Ephanie.  Ephanie has some particular impressions of it, and also some questions.  Pick one of these impressions and explain how Silko has designed her own story to convey that same impression, or some different one.  OR:  Explain how Silko's story in effect answers one of Ephanie's questions.  OR:  Cite one of Ephanie's questions that Silko's story does not address, and explain why you think Silko was not concerned with it, given what she focuses on as the main locus of interest in the tale.

Topic E.  In her talk on "Language and Literature from Pueblo Indian Perspective," Silko has lots to say about the function of storytelling among the Laguna Pueblo people.  Study carefully paragraphs 2, 3, and 5 on p. 1548, on the role of story-telling in the group's helping an individual in crisis.  Use your essay to speculate on the kinds of situations such a story as Silko's "Yellow Woman" might be used in such a helping way.  Explain how it might help, in the various situations you imagine?


  Consult the Study Guide to this story before attempting this writing assignment.

  You may also wish to review the general instructions on writing assignments.


  Suggestions are welcome.  Please send your comments to lyman@ksu.edu .

      Contents copyright 1999 by Lyman A. Baker

Permission is granted for non-commercial educational use; all other rights reserved.

  This page last updated 16 April 1999.