Thursday, March 15, 2007

Heap Of Dead Ashes

Journal No. 18
English 48B
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I Chose: Zitkala Ša

From "Impressions of an Indian Childhood"

I. " 'My granddaughter made coffee on a heap of dead ashes, and served me the moment I came.' They both laughed...but neither she nor the warrior...said anything to embarrass me. They treated my best judgment, poor as it was, with the utmost respect."

II. The author is describing a scene where the little girl has been playing hostess to a tribe elder when her mother returns to see that she has not completely gotten things right.

III. The little girl is proud of her mother's ability to serve the people of the tribe when they pay visits to their home. The little girl has spent many days observing her mother and her maternal ways. She takes such good care of their visitors: she makes them coffee and serves them food while they are seated comfortably for good conversation. They are always made to feel welcome. Now, it is the little girl's turn and she wishes to emulate her mother's tasks. While she has observed her mother, she has never done these things herself so she is a little misguided in her efforts.

Though the little girl has made coffee from grounds over a dead pile of ashes, she has made the efforts nonetheless. This is something that her grandfather has recognized. He politely - if not proudly - accepts the refreshments just as quickly and graciously as he would had it been the little girl's mother serving him. When the little girl's mother arrives, the grandfather shares the occurence with her and they both have a light laugh over it. Just as discreetly as she can, the little girl's mother makes some "real" coffee. The quiet and unassuming behavior that the two adults share show the little girl that even though she has not done things correctly, her efforts are greatly appreciated. Without words, she has learned a lesson in what it means to be an adult. She feels their admiration and their respect, something which she even carries with her into her adult life.


Scott said...

20 points. We call them "teachable moments."