October 07, 2011

Two Old Women by Velma Wallis

While this may have been a smaller book, it was filled with depth. While it looks like a children's book with its pictures and large text, this was found in the non-fiction section and could probably be considered mythology. It's based on an Athabascan Indian legend that the author's mother had passed down to her. The story inspired her so much, that Wallis wanted to put it down to share with others.

Two older women have been abandoned by their tribe and left for dead because they are thought of as a hindrance to the tribe in starvation time. Sa' and Ch'idzigyaak at first are unsure of what to do. They know they don't want to die, but they haven't cared for themselves in so long that they don't have much hope of survival. However, be it luck or other, they manage to procure some food for themselves which gives them hope that they can make it on their own despite their advanced age and the hardships that come with it. Packing up their meager supplies, they decide to head for better ground to try to make it through the winter.

They have to recall skills that they thought had been long forgotten in order to fend for themselves. But with an inner strength and will to survive, they do better than they ever thought possible. With only each other for company they have a strong companionship, but their feelings are mixed between wanting to see their people again, and also being afraid of what the people might do to them and their food stores if they were to join up again.

Wallis tells the story very clearly. She adds enough detail to present the picture, but doesn't overload it with useless descriptions of things that don't matter. The reader is able to feel the old women's anguish and betrayal of their people. Yet, they also feel hope when the old women try to survive on their own. Her story tells very important lessons as well. For example, one of the women mention that they spent so long convincing everyone that they were old and helpless, that eventually the people decided it was true. They had to redeem themselves and prove that they were something and could care for themselves.

A great story, this is a book that I very much enjoyed reading. I'll definitely be looking for more by this author and in this same genre.

Two Old Women
Copyright 1959
140 pages; also includes maps, backgrounds, and other pertinent information relating to the story

No comments:

Post a Comment