Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Note on Returning Home in *American Indian Stories*

Zitkala-sa’s writings in “Retrospection” particularly stood out for me. After visiting her mother, Zitkala-sa makes a startling realization about herself. She has completely discarded her faith, her connection to the natural world, friends, family, and her people. She reveals, “For the white man’s papers I had given up my faith in the Great Spirit…I had forgotten the healing in trees and brooks…my mother’s simple view of life…I had been uprooted from my mother, nature, and God.” Working with the “civilized” white people, she has lost her substance. Zitkala-Sa has left her nest, ventured out into the outside modern world, only to realize her true wish to reunite with her roots. Interestingly, she sees herself as “a cold bare pole I seemed to be, planted in a strange earth.” This image of a pole being planted in the earth is very indicative of
what is going on for her. Zitkala-sa, having separated from her home on the reservation with her people, has lost her roots and her branches. She has morphed into a cold modern pole. All she is left to ponder with is the idea that perhaps her life is not “real life,” but more like a “long-lasting death” where she doesn’t quite belong in either her old world or the “civilized” world.

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