“Dumb Indian,” Wade tells us. “Jesse wasn’t very smart.”
- Talk about the difference between a narrator and an author. The author might think Jesse is the smartest guy in the boat. Wade is still figuring things out. Is it fair to call Wade an unreliable storyteller?
- What is the importance of having a prejudiced narrator?
- What tone does this set for the introduction of the book’s main characters? Is it formal or informal? Why do you think the author chose this tone for his introduction?
Readers are immediately confronted with the distinction of déjà vu and vujà dé. How are mirror images and reversals functioning in the novel so far? Be on the lookout for mirror images and reversals all through this story. What are some additional themes that have already been introduced in the text? Identify one or two.
Contrast Lorna’s view of Calamus to Wade’s. Cite examples from the text.
Jesse has come to Calamus from Celilo Falls, the ancient fishing grounds on the Columbia River. Celilo was where native people had gathered for some 10,000 years, not just to fish but also to worship, to socialize, and to trade goods with other tribes, from the Pacific coast to the inland plains. Celilo Falls disappeared when The Dalles Dam flooded it in 1957, just three years before our story takes place (See Note A for background on Celilo).
- If Celilo Falls and the Native Americans who lived there were still present, do you think they would consider themselves a part of the United States? Why or why not?
- Learn the history of Celilo Falls in this article.
W.9–10.1, 2, 4, 6–10; RL.9–10.1-10; SL.9–10.5; L.9–10.1