Grandmother Summary And Important Questions

Grandmother

-Ray Young Bear

Summary of The Grandmother:

The Grandmother was composed by American-Indian poet Ray Young Bear who belongs to Mesquaki cultural tribe.

The main two themes of the poem are as follows:

  • The poets’ recollection of his grandmother
  • The search of the identity of his tribe

The poet depicts his grandmother as all-loving and all inspiring. Metaphorically, the poem is about the search of the identity of his culture, which was dominated by white American people. In this poem, the poet has attempted to revive the lost culture, rituals, and identity of his tribe using a vivid image of his all-loving and all-inspiring grandmother.

Ray Young Bear shows his unfathomable attachment and intimacy with his grandmother though she is dead now. Though she’s dead she has remained in his memories as a source of inspiration and love. The poet remembers her shape and the dress she used to wear. The poet also remembers her plastic shopping bag which she used to carry when she went to the market. These images take the poet into his back and help him to describe her. She used to work in the field the whole day and would come back home in the evening. She would put her damp and warm hands with the smell of roots on his heads as soon as she returned from the farm. The poet used to visit her tomb and remember her voice. This voice would flow inside him like a light that would reborn after a person stirs a sleeping fire with a stick. It means the remembrance of his grandmother would make him more energetic and enthusiastic. It would fill him with great joy and zeal.

The poet uses four senses to describe his grandmother. Her shape, purple scarf, and plastic shopping bag appeal the sense of sight. Warm and damp hands appeal the sense of touch likewise the smell of roots appeal the sense of smell. And the voice coming from the rock appeals the sense of sound. These senses help the poet to present the importance of his grandmother in realistic way.

Metaphorically, the poem is about the poet’s lost culture which was marginalized and dominated by white people. Purple scarf indicates the dress of typical American-Indian women that they wear during winter. Plastic shopping bag signifies the poverty of the people. Damp and warm hands signify the positive impact of vanishing culture. The smell of roots symbolizes the power of the original culture because of which identity is recognized. Finally, the voice of grandmother indicates the power of teachings of his culture that inspires him to choose the right paths to fight for equality and freedom.

The poem is not rich only in meaning but also in structure. There are metaphors and similes to compare grandmother with the culture. The poet hasn’t used any capital letter throughout the poem. It shows the marginalization of his culture. It also implies that the poet doesn’t want to follow the rules set by American white people.

Important Questions And Answers From Grandmother:

Question. Describe the poet’s grandmother.

Answer. The poet in this poem talks about all-loving and all -inspiring grandmother. The poet’s grandmother is the symbol; of Mesquaki tribe. Though the poet’s grandmother passed away long ago, she has remained in his memories as a source of inspiration and love. 

In the poem, the poet’s grandmother has been described using various mages. The poet’s grandmother always wore a purple scarf around her neck. She used to carry a plastic shopping bag on her hand. She had a deep affection towards the poet and touches the poet with her warm hand on his head. Poet used to feel inspired and guided with the voice of his grandmother. Here, in this poem, Poet’s grandmother is actually larger than life figure. Whatever she used to do represents the rites, rituals, the culture of the Mesquaki tribe.

Question. What does the poet remember about his grandmother?

Answer. Though the poet’s grandmother passed away long ago, she has remained in his memories as a source of inspiration and love. The poet depicts his grandmother as all-loving and all inspiring. Ray Young Bear shows his unfathomable attachment and intimacy with his grandmother though she is dead now.

He remembers his grandmother using various images that create a vivid and lively picture of his grandmother. The poet remembers his grandmother putting a purple scarf and holding a plastic shopping bag on her hand. He also remembers his grandmother placing her warm hands on his head. He remembers the smell of the roots coming out from his grandmother’s hand. Recalling his grandmother’s word, he finds himself being inspired and guided as the person gets guided by the light coming out from stirring ashes from a sleeping fire.  Thus, the poet remembers a vivid and lively picture of his grandmother.

Question. What images do you find in this poem written by a member of the Sauk and Fox (Mesquakie) Indian tribe of North America? To what senses do these images appeal?

Answer. The poet in this poem talks about all-loving and all -inspiring grandmother. The poet’s grandmother is the symbol; of Mesquaki tribe. The poet here in the poem talks about various symbols that he uses to remember and sense his grandmother. There are multiple symbols like a purple scarf, plastic shopping bag, warm and damp hands of grandmother smelling roots, etc. These all symbols have twining meaning. Plastic shopping bag symbolizes the poverty of the tribe. The sense of light also symbolizes the spirituality of the Poet’s tribe. The smells of the root from grandmother’s hand symbolize that the tribe is of farmers group and they work hard for their living. Thus, by the use of images, the poet has symbolically linked his grandmother to the lost culture of the Indian tribe.

Some Important Questions From The Poem “Grandmother” From Examination Point of View:

  • What images do you find in this poem written by a member of the Sauk and Fox (Mesquaki) Indian tribe of North America? To what senses do these images appeal?
  • How does the speaker feel toward his grandmother? In what words or lines does he make his feelings clear?
  • What does the poet remember about his grandmother?
  • Describe the poet’s grandmother.
  • How does the speaker feel towards his grandmother? What words or images make his feeling clear?
  • The speaker in “Grandmother” seems to be emotionally attached to his grandmother. How?
  • How does the poet expresses memory and honour toward his grandmother?
  • What impression of grandmother does the speaker give in the poem “Grandmother”?
  • What is the main idea of the poem “Grandmother” by Ray Young Bear?
  • What are the four things that Rio beer Ray Young Bear remembers about his grandmother?

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