The Indian way of life, is all about spirit and faith. Their whole culture is build up about it, and losing the spirit is the same as losing their status in the community. The story about the 8-year-old girl, Zitkala-Sa, is about how an Indian girl is leaving her mother, and follows the paleface missionaries to the East. Zitkala-Sa has always wanted to experience the East, with the big apple trees, and the lovely way of living, and even though her mother don’t believe in the palefaces’ promises, and is against, letting her daughter go to the East, she’s in the end letting her, even though she don’t like it.
But the East is a lot different, compared to what she had believed, and after the first day, she sees that it wasn’t what she had expected. On day, she hears a rumor about the palefaces, wanting to cut off their long hair, and she decides to hide, because she wants to fight, instead of just letting them win. The story is written by Zitkala-Sa, in a first person narrative, which is shown by her point of view. And because of that, we experience her development all through the story, because we are close to her, and her feelings.
Therefore is the narrator reliable, because she is the person, the story is all about. There are three main characters in the story: Zitkala-Sa, the mother and the missionaries. Zitkala-Sa is a very curious child, which appears with her great desire to experience the new country. She is adventurous, and are easily carried away by the palefaces’ promises, and don’t believe in her mother’s words, about the white peoples lies. Zitkala-Sa’s mom is a protecting mom, who wants the best for her children.
She is very caring, and knows that the palefaces are lying about the East, but because of her daughters big wish about going there, she lets her, because she don’t want to destroy Zitkala-Sa’s dream. The missionaries from the East, is on the outside nice and caring people, who wants the best for the Indian children, and wants to give them more opportunities, than they already has. But in the inside they aren’t treating the children well, and as the mother say: “Their deeds are bitter”.
There is a lot of symbolic in the text: Firstly there is the big apple tree, with the red apples, which is growing in the East. The big tree is a life symbol – It could symbolize the “better” life in the new country which Zitkala-Sa wants to travel to. But it could also symbolize the Tree of Knowledge, and when the children pick one of the apples, they are able to distinguish between good and evil – The East, and their home country.
The red apples in the tree could be symbolizing the unknown things, Zitkala-Sa still don’t know about the missionaries’ country, and the color, red, is a symbol of the love Zitkala-Sa is feeling, when she is told about the East, but can also symbolize the hate and the rage she is feeling in the end of the story. Another big symbol in the story is when they are cutting off her long hair – The hair has a lot of spiritual energy, and symbolize is containing strength. Zitkala-Sa is losing her spirit, when her hair is being cut, because short hair, is a symbol of a person who is a coward.
Zitkala-Sa feels lost in the end of the story, where her hair has been cut short. That is underlined by the statement about her life, since she came to the East: “Since the day I was taken from my mother I had suffered extreme indignities. People had stared at me. I had been tossed about in the air like a wooden puppet. ” This is the way, a lot of Native Americans experience the new lifestyle in another country – They do not feel welcome, and is a lot different than the people who is born in the country, and has a white skin color.
The feeling Zitkala-Sa has, is how all American Natives feels – They are not treated well, and just want to go back to their old way of life. Zatkala-Sa is losing more and more of normal lifestyle, including her spirit. This can be compared the poem by Sujata Bhatt, where he is telling about losing more and more of your old way of living – Including your mother tongue. That is also what is happening with Zitkala-Sa. She has arrived to another country, and is part by part losing her “old life”, for example when her spirit is taken away from her.
That is what is happening to many of the Natives, because they needs to change their way of life, to fit in better. You can also compare the story, with the movie “Once were warriors”, where the mother in the story looses two of her children. Zitkala-Sa’s mother is losing her two children to the missionaries from the East, and is in the end alone, because she is the only one, who follows her old lifestyle. The mother in the movie, wants to go back to her old roots, in the end, and that is the same as Zitkala-Sa wants – She doesn’t like the way of life in palefaces’ country, maybe because she don’t fit in.