Study Questions for Leslie Marmon Silko's "Yellow Woman"
The study questions for this unit are a bit different than those you have seen previously. We will read an introduction to the Yellow Woman figure in Native American traditions, three versions of Yellow Women tales [including two direct transcriptions of tales told in the oral tradition of the Keres people and a modern re-telling by Paula Gunn Allen], and the short story,"Yellow Woman," by Leslie Marmon Silko. I'd like you to consider how to apply Paula Gunn Allen's definition of the Yellow Woman legend and the details of the three tales to Silko's short story. Consider the following issues:
1. How do recurring elements of the folk tales like water, food preparation, pregnancy, and abduction function in Silko's "Yellow Woman"? Does Silko modify the legend or simply transport it into a modern setting?
2. Paula Gunn Allen argues that "the sacred and the ordinary are perceived as a seamless whole" in Keres and Pueblo stories. In what ways does this statement apply to Silko's story?
3. How do you interpret the end of the story? In particular, how are Jell-O, the name, "Al," and the reference to the protagonist's Grandpa central to our understanding of the story?