Q&A on Chavawn Kelley

Discussion questions and writing prompts

1.) How does this story address diversity? What kinds of diversity does it suggest? (cultural, geographic, economic, and rural vs. urban)

2.) What images of silver are used in this story? How do the images of the writer’s former life in Atlanta contrast with the images of silver in Wyoming? (silver spoons, silver concession truck, tarnished silver moon, car’s silver trim, silver jingles, silver building)

3.) What do you think of the quoted (italicized) sections of the textbook? Do you think they contribute to the story? How or how not?

4.) What role does the “natural world” play in this story?

5.) How do you think the Indian students at the high school felt after the murder? How did the Indian girls express their feelings? Do you think their silent protest was effective?

6.) Why do you think the writer didn’t dance at the powwow?

7.) How do you think she felt about being a substitute teacher?

8.) In this story, the writer is in an automobile accident, but she never says so directly. How does she say it? Why doesn’t she tell about it directly?

9.) Toward the end of the story, why does the writer say, “I wish I’d worn something else”?

10.) What do you think the writer means at the end of the story when she says, “I’ve dropped a teaspoon down the garbage disposal. I don’t know how to pick up a feather that has fallen. I don’t have a thesis.”?

11.) Do we know why the boy was murdered? Where was his body found? Is this important?

Jump Start : Choose one of the following questions as the springboard for your own personal essay.

1.) This story appeared in the “Diversity Dialogues” issue of Creative Nonfiction. What does “diversity” mean to you?

2.) How far do you live from your nearest mall? How does your proximity to a major shopping center affect your life? How far do you live from the nearest wilderness area? How does this affect your life?

3.) Have you ever been in circumstances in which you were in the minority? Is it rare or is it often? How did you (do you) feel and deal with this situation?

For further reading the author suggests: What You See in Clear Water: Life on the Wind River Reservation by Geoffrey O’Gara