Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage, and Survival

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Overview

An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage, and SurvivalBased on an Athabascan legend passed along from mother to daughter for many generations on the upper Yukon River in Alaska, this is the tragic and shocking story--with a surprise ending--of two elderly women abandoned by a migrating tribe that faces starvation brought on by unusually harsh Arctic weather and a shortage of fish and game. The story of survival is told with suspense by Velma Wallis, whose subject matter challenges the taboos of her past. Yet, her ...
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Overview

An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage, and SurvivalBased on an Athabascan legend passed along from mother to daughter for many generations on the upper Yukon River in Alaska, this is the tragic and shocking story--with a surprise ending--of two elderly women abandoned by a migrating tribe that faces starvation brought on by unusually harsh Arctic weather and a shortage of fish and game. The story of survival is told with suspense by Velma Wallis, whose subject matter challenges the taboos of her past. Yet, her themes are modern--empowerment of women, the graying of America, Native American ways.

Twenty years after its first publication, TWO OLD WOMEN continues to be a publishing phenomenon, despite scant national publicity. This word-of-mouth book has been translated into seventeen languages, selling more than 1.5 million copies.

Includes new introduction by the author, new afterword by the editor, and a discussion guide for book-group readers.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Velma Wallis adapted her prize-winning book HarperPerennial, 1993 from a tale she first heard from her mother, an Athabascan Indian in the Alaskan Yukon. Its transition into audio format is impressive: taken from oral tradition, it's tellable and starkly poetic, while the deep rich voice of narrator Russell Means with his Native American inflections does much to enhance its power and authenticity. The story is compelling. Abandoned by their tribe during a brutal winter famine, two old women are left to perish on their own. Although they've grown used to complaining and letting others do for them, the two resolve not to wait passively for death but to fight against it. With trapping skills they haven't used for years and strengthened by their bond of friendship, the two women survive the winter to ultimately come face to face with the members of their tribe, none of whom has fared as well as they. Utterly convincing in its details and resolution, this will offer listeners in seventh grade and up vivid insight into a Native American culture. At the same time, it rises above the particulars of time and place to become a metaphor with a message or inspiration not only for students, women or the elderly, but for all members of the human race.-Carol Katz, Harrison Public Library, NY
Roland Wulbert
Growing up Gwich'in one of the 11 distinct ethnic peoples of Alaska in Fort Yukon, closer to the Arctic Circle than Fairbanks, Wallis had been hearing all her life the legend of the two old women abandoned to die by their starving tribe. Their own children abetted the cruel not, incidentally, just to Western civilization tribal decision. Wallis' rendition in serviceable prose of this culturally famous story is somewhere between translation and what is sometimes called "re-creation". The tale which has a happy ending deserves a place in every regional collection but has a greater appeal, too.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780972494496
  • Publisher: Epicenter Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/15/2004
  • Edition description: 20th Anniversary Edition
  • Edition number: 10
  • Pages: 148
  • Sales rank: 213,330
  • Product dimensions: 7.25 (w) x 5.25 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Velma Wallis is one of Alaska's bestselling authors. One of thirteen children, she was born in Fort Yukon, a small Gwich'in Athabascan community at the confluence of the Porcupine and Yukon rivers. She and her family live in Fairbanks, Alaska.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Hunger and cold take their toll




The air stretched tight, quiet and cold over the vast land Tall spruce branches bung heavily laden with snow, awaiting distant spring winds. The frosted willows seemed to tremble in the freezing temperatures.

Far off in this seemingly dismal land were bands of people dressed in furs and animal skins, huddled close to small campfires. Their weather-burnt faces were stricken with looks of hopelessness as they faced starvation, and the future held little promise of better days.

These nomads were The People of the arctic region of Alaska, always on the move in search ,of food. Where the caribou and other migrating animals roamed, The People followed. But the deep cold of winter presented special problems. The moose, their favorite source of food, took refuge from the penetrating' cold by staying in one place, and were difficult to find. Smaller, more accessible animals such as rabbits and tree squirrels could not sustain a large band such as this one. And during the cold spells, even the smaller animals either disappeared in hiding or were thinned by predators, man and animal alike. So during this unusually bitter chill in the late fall, the land seemed void of life as the cold hovered menacingly.

During the cold, hunting required more energy than at other times. Thus, the hunters were fed first, as it was their skills on which The People depended. Yet, with so many to feed, what food they had was depleted quickly, Despite their best efforts, many of the women and children suffered from malnutrition, and some would die of starvation.

In this particular band were two oldwomen cared for by The People for many years. The older woman's name was Ch'idzigyaak, for she reminded her parents of a chickadee bird when she was born. The other woman's name was Sa', meaning "star," because at the time of her birth her mother had been looking at the fall night sky, concentrating on the distant stars to take her mind away from the painful labor contractions.

The chief would instruct the younger men to set up shelters for these two old women each time the band arrived at a new campsite, and to provide them with wood and water. The younger women pulled the two elder women's possessions from one camp to the next and, in turn, the old women tanned animal skins for those who helped them. The arrangement worked well.

However, the two old women shared a character flaw unusual for people of those times. Constantly they complained of aches and pains, and they carried walking sticks to attest to their handicaps. Surprisingly, the others seemed not to mind, despite having been taught from the days of their childhood that weakness was not tolerated among the inhabitants of this harsh motherland. Yet, no one reprimanded the two women, and they continued to travel with the stronger ones--until one fateful day.

On that day, something more than the cold hung in the air as The People gathered around their few flickering fires and listened to the chief He was a man who stood almost a head taller than the other men. From within the folds of his parka ruff he spoke about the cold, hard days they were to expect and of what each would have to contribute if they were to survive the winter.

Then, in a loud, clear voice he made a sudden announcement: "The council and I have arrived at a decision." The chief paused as if to find the strength to voice his next words. "We are going to have to leave the old ones behind."

His eyes quickly scanned the crowd for reactions. But the hunger and cold had taken their toll, and The People did not seem to be shocked. Many expected this to happen, and some thought it for the best. In those days, leaving the old behind in times of starvation was not an unknown act, although in this band it was happening for the first time. The starkness of the primitive land seemed to demand it, as the people, to survive, were forced to imitate some of the ways of the animals. Like the younger, more able wolves who shun the old leader of the pack, these people would leave the old behind so that they could move faster without the extra burden.

The older woman, Ch'idzigyaak, had a daughter and a grandson among the group. The chief looked into the crowd for them and saw that they, too, had shown no reaction. Greatly relieved that the unpleasant announcement had been made without incident, the chief instructed everyone to pack immediately. Meanwhile, this brave man who was their leader could not bring himself to look at the two old women, for he did not feel so strong now.

The chief understood why The People who cared for the old women did not raise objections. In these hard times, many of the men became frustrated and were angered easily, and one wrong thing said or done could cause an uproar and make matters worse. So it was that the weak and beaten members of the tribe kept what dismay they felt to themselves, for they knew that the cold could bring on a wave of panic followed by cruelty and brutality, among people fighting for survival.

In the many years the women had been with the band, the chief had come to feel affection for them. Now, he wanted to be away as quickly as possible so that the two old women could not look at him and make him feel worse than he had ever felt in his life.

The two women sat old and small before the campfire with their chins held up proudly, disguising their shock. In their younger days they had seen very old people left behind, but they never expected such a fate. They stared ahead numbly as if they had not heard the chief condemn them to a certain death--to be left alone to fend for themselves in a land that understood only strength.

Two Old Women. Copyright © by V. Wallis. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Dedication vii
Acknowledgements ix
Introduction xi
Chapter 1 Hunger and cold take their toll 1
Chapter 2 "Let us die trying" 17
Chapter 3 Recalling old skills 31
Chapter 4 A painful journey 45
Map 74
Chapter 5 Saving a cache of fish 77
Chapter 6 Sadness among The People 93
Chapter 7 The stillness is broken 107
Chapter 8 A new beginning 123
About the Gwich'in People 137
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First Chapter

Two Old Women
An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival

Chapter One

Hunger and cold take their toll

The air stretched tight, quiet and cold over the vast land Tall spruce branches bung heavily laden with snow, awaiting distant spring winds. The frosted willows seemed to tremble in the freezing temperatures.

Far off in this seemingly dismal land were bands of people dressed in furs and animal skins, huddled close to small campfires. Their weather-burnt faces were stricken with looks of hopelessness as they faced starvation, and the future held little promise of better days.

These nomads were The People of the arctic region of Alaska, always on the move in search ,of food. Where the caribou and other migrating animals roamed, The People followed. But the deep cold of winter presented special problems. The moose, their favorite source of food, took refuge from the penetrating' cold by staying in one place, and were difficult to find. Smaller, more accessible animals such as rabbits and tree squirrels could not sustain a large band such as this one. And during the cold spells, even the smaller animals either disappeared in hiding or were thinned by predators, man and animal alike. So during this unusually bitter chill in the late fall, the land seemed void of life as the cold hovered menacingly.

During the cold, hunting required more energy than at other times. Thus, the hunters were fed first, as it was their skills on which The People depended. Yet, with so many to feed, what food they had was depleted quickly, Despite their best efforts, many of the women and children suffered from malnutrition, and some would die of starvation.

In this particular band were two old women cared for by The People for many years. The older woman's name was Ch'idzigyaak, for she reminded her parents of a chickadee bird when she was born. The other woman's name was Sa', meaning "star," because at the time of her birth her mother had been looking at the fall night sky, concentrating on the distant stars to take her mind away from the painful labor contractions.

The chief would instruct the younger men to set up shelters for these two old women each time the band arrived at a new campsite, and to provide them with wood and water. The younger women pulled the two elder women's possessions from one camp to the next and, in turn, the old women tanned animal skins for those who helped them. The arrangement worked well.

However, the two old women shared a character flaw unusual for people of those times. Constantly they complained of aches and pains, and they carried walking sticks to attest to their handicaps. Surprisingly, the others seemed not to mind, despite having been taught from the days of their childhood that weakness was not tolerated among the inhabitants of this harsh motherland. Yet, no one reprimanded the two women, and they continued to travel with the stronger ones--until one fateful day.

On that day, something more than the cold hung in the air as The People gathered around their few flickering fires and listened to the chief He was a man who stood almost a head taller than the other men. From within the folds of his parka ruff he spoke about the cold, hard days they were to expect and of what each would have to contribute if they were to survive the winter.

Then, in a loud, clear voice he made a sudden announcement: "The council and I have arrived at a decision." The chief paused as if to find the strength to voice his next words. "We are going to have to leave the old ones behind."

His eyes quickly scanned the crowd for reactions. But the hunger and cold had taken their toll, and The People did not seem to be shocked. Many expected this to happen, and some thought it for the best. In those days, leaving the old behind in times of starvation was not an unknown act, although in this band it was happening for the first time. The starkness of the primitive land seemed to demand it, as the people, to survive, were forced to imitate some of the ways of the animals. Like the younger, more able wolves who shun the old leader of the pack, these people would leave the old behind so that they could move faster without the extra burden.

The older woman, Ch'idzigyaak, had a daughter and a grandson among the group. The chief looked into the crowd for them and saw that they, too, had shown no reaction. Greatly relieved that the unpleasant announcement had been made without incident, the chief instructed everyone to pack immediately. Meanwhile, this brave man who was their leader could not bring himself to look at the two old women, for he did not feel so strong now.

The chief understood why The People who cared for the old women did not raise objections. In these hard times, many of the men became frustrated and were angered easily, and one wrong thing said or done could cause an uproar and make matters worse. So it was that the weak and beaten members of the tribe kept what dismay they felt to themselves, for they knew that the cold could bring on a wave of panic followed by cruelty and brutality, among people fighting for survival.

In the many years the women had been with the band, the chief had come to feel affection for them. Now, he wanted to be away as quickly as possible so that the two old women could not look at him and make him feel worse than he had ever felt in his life.

The two women sat old and small before the campfire with their chins held up proudly, disguising their shock. In their younger days they had seen very old people left behind, but they never expected such a fate. They stared ahead numbly as if they had not heard the chief condemn them to a certain death--to be left alone to fend for themselves in a land that understood only strength.

Two Old Women
An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival
. Copyright © by Velma Wallis. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

Introduction

Based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper Yukon River area in Alaska, this suspenseful, shocking, and ultimately inspirational tale of survival follows two old women who are abandoned by their tribe during a brutal winter famine. Though these two women have been known to complain more than contribute, they now must either survive on their own or die trying. In simple but vivid detail, Velma Wallis depicts a landscape and way of life that are at once merciless and starkly beautiful. In her old women, she has created two heroines of steely determination whose story of betrayal, friendship, community, and forgiveness will carve out a permanent place in readers' imaginations.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Two old women are left to die so that the rest of the tribe might have a better chance to survive, but they do not die; in fact, after overcoming incredible environmental conditions and physical limitations, they survive the winter and prepare for the next better than the tribe. What does this story illustrate about society? How does it seem a particularly "American" story (consider the role of the individual versus the group, attitudes toward overcoming adversity, the physical environment)?

  2. The two women rediscover skills they had not used in many years. If they had never been abandoned, they would never have discovered what they are capable of. What do the two women gain and lose from this experience?

  3. Compare and contrast the two women. How do their histories contribute to their survival?

  4. Are you surprised when you learn that these women who have lived and worked together did not really know each other? Why do people who live together or in close proximity keep an emotional distance? Does the story of the two women suggest that intimacy makes for a better quality of life?

  5. The chief regrets his decision to leave the old women. Was the chief's decision the correct one? What if the women had died -- is your answer the same?

  6. The women are left with all their belongings, which ultimately was crucial to their survival. Why did the tribe allow this, especially in light of its own desperate circumstances?

  7. Ch'idzigyaak is heartbroken when her daughter and grandson allow her to be abandoned. Do you blame them? What would have happened if they had stayed behind with her? How does their relationship change?

  8. Though this story describes an ancient culture's mores, in what ways does it resemble modern life? Compare the role of women in an Athabascan tribe with modern day American women.

  9. What does this story tell you about how Athabascans view women? How does Two Old Women compare with other fablelike feminist stories, such as Lilith or Persephone?

About the Author

Velma Wallis was born in 1960 in Fort Yukon, a remote village of about 650 people in Interior Alaska. Growing up in a traditional Athabaskan family, Wallis was one of thirteen children. When she was thirteen, her father died and she left school to help her mother raise her younger siblings. Wallis later moved to her father's trapping cabin, a twelve-mile walk from the village where she lived alone intermittently for a dozen years, learning traditional skills of hunting and trapping. Wallis lives in Fort Yukon with her husband, Jeffrey John, and their two children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 32 )
Rating Distribution

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(15)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 11, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    This little book should be on every school list as a "must read". Couldn't put it down, great story about survival, companionship, compassion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2012

    Two old women book review Two old women, an exit

    Two old women book review



    Two old women, an exiting, yet predictable story like most others. The characterization was good and the setting was fine, yet, the theme and plot seemed overused and predictable. It is easy to see how the book would end from the first few chapters. The characters and the setting on the other hand were very unique.


    The characters, ( sa’ and chadzidygk) were very well put. They would learn things about themselves as the book goes on. This is what makes many books best sellers. It seems to pull the reader in and makes them feel as if they were the character. Also, the characters were old women. these days the characters in most books are teens or young adults. This makes the reader a little more intrigued by the characters.



    The setting was better than the plot. Old Alaska is a place that does not get used as a setting in many books ever. The plot on the other hand was slightly predictable. By reading the intro, you could tell what would happen in the end. Although there were a few elements of surprise. As the book goes on you would learn more about the women and there past lives, and how that impacts there present and future lives.


    Finally, the theme; “Treat others the way you want to be treated”. A very overused theme. Although it seems that almost all books are based on this theme, Two old women did a little bit better than most books. Two old women appear to use this theme in two ways. The women had learned to pull their weight around in the camp, and the tribe learned to be more patient with people.




    Two old women is exiting but predictable at the same time. It has many elements that would make it an amazing story if it had a more unpredictable theme and plot.it has unique characters and an exiting setting. I would recommend it for a high school English class. Overall, Two old women is a good book to read.

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  • Posted September 16, 2012

    Two Old Women is a novel that is about two women who have to per

    Two Old Women is a novel that is about two women who have to persevere through many obstacles and difficult situations. In my opinion, this novel is well written and tells a story of determination and perseverance. The old women, Sa and Chiidzygyakk, are abandoned by their tribe. They are banished from the tribe because they are old and hold up the tribe. The tribe leaves them to die. The two old women must survive without help from younger members of the tribe. Two Old Women is a great book because they must survive by getting through the Alaskan winter, having the will to fight, and prove to the tribe they should not have abandoned them.
    The two old women must survive through the Alaskan winter. When they are banished from the tribe, they are angry and disappointed at the tribe. They are angry because Sa is 80 and Chiidzygyakk is 75 years old. They must survive the winter being old and weak. They are always tired and want to stop, but they can’t because they want to survive. Also, there is not much food in the winter in Alaska. They have to eat rabbit heads and squirrels. The only weapon they have is a hatchet made out of animal bone. One advantage they do have is being wise. They remember an old fishing spot they used to go to. They travel there to find food and shelter.
    If the women want to survive they must have the will to fight. They have to want to survive. At one point during the book, Chiidzygyakk just wants to lay there and die. She wants to give up until her bladder annoys her and has to relieve it. If they don’t have the will to survive they will die and not prove the tribe wrong. They eventually just keep walking. Some days they feel like not walking because they are sore. They know that if they don’t keep walking they might not survive through the harsh Alaskan winter. There will to fight proves if they make it to the old fishing spot.
    Another thing the two old women do to survive is they want to prove the tribe wrong. They want to say that they survived. The women also want to say they survived better without the tribes help. They try to do that by using the benefits of being old and wise. They use their memories to remember the fishing spot they used to go to when they were young. They remember it as a lake with many plentiful fish in it. It also has many trees around so they can make shelter. They even go there to get protection from other tribes.
    Two Old Women is an amazing story of perseverance because they must survive through the Alaskan winter, must have the will to fight, and want to prove the tribe wrong. The novel tells about two women problems in the Alaskan winter. It is a great story overall. The novel is a great piece of writing and deserves to be read by many sophomore classes to come.

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  • Posted May 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommend

    Quick read with a great lesson for all generations.

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  • Posted January 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Book Club Selection

    My book club chose this for our January book because it was short and an easy read. This book turned out to be much more interesting then I thought it would be. The characters were very well described, the story well written. We had quite the discussion about why aren't older people valued for their knowledge and experience and how maybe they are made short tempered and bitter because of the way they are treated by younger members of the group. We decided this just might be a good book for required reading and discussion in a classroom.

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  • Posted December 28, 2011

    Most enjoyable read

    Very empowering especially for those who believe they are privileged or incapable of succeeding. This book takes little time to read but spans through the spectrum of emotions from sadness, horror, realization, humor, and ultimately to satisfaction. A good way to send an hour or two and feel the time wasn't wasted. Great book to share with others though especially women of all ages. Truly inspiring!

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  • Posted December 4, 2011

    A moral tale

    Being an old woman myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of elders left to die in the snow by their friends and relatives because of a harsh winter. While one can sympathize with the reasons for this practice, i.e., survival of the younger, more useful members of the tribe, it was very rewarding when the old women not only survived against all reason, but later saved from starvation, all those who had left them to die.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2009

    The Story is good lesson for everyone.

    The story would be good for adults or children.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2009

    Great read!

    This is a wonderful book, which demonstrates the strong character of the women involved. What a moral!

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  • Posted June 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Don't Underestimate Your Elders

    In this well-told tale of two tribewomen who are in their old age we see what determination can do. Having earned the respect of their tribe these two women have been content to let others do for them over the years. But their age hinders the tribespeople's movements and they are facing a brutal winter. The chief makes the decision to turn these two out into the harshness of the bleak Alaskan Yukon to live or die.

    Together these two women forge a bond of friendship and recall the skills of their younger days, conquering the pain of unused muscles and fear of the unknown to survive even the harshest of conditions. The story comes full circle when they again meet up with their tribe and the chief who once turned them out now finds he and his people have need of their wisdom.

    A wonderful book for just about everyone. Full of hope and determination.

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  • Posted October 30, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A must read

    Two Old Women by Velma Wallis is probably the most inspiring story I've read in years. <BR/><BR/>Velma Wallis has taken a story that was passed down through her family and put it on paper. The theme is two elderly women abandoned by their clan and left to die because there is not enough food available to survive the winter. It is the story of how these women survived and prospered by taking charge of their lifes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2008

    Easy read, good underlying meaning

    I read this book while stuck at an airport for the afternoon, it was a very easy and quick read yet had great underlying lessons to be learned. It illustrated how our egos can often get the best of us at any age, and how we are capable of more than we even give ourselves credit for. Worth the time spent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2008

    Two Old Women

    The book Two Old Women was a book that had adventurous parts and it was about survival. I think the book needed more action to make it a more interesting book. It was about two women that were old and their band had to leave them behind because they were a burden to the band. One of them wanted to give up but the other women encouraged her not to give up. She also told her to at least try and not just die without trying. The two old women did not give up they set traps for rabbits and hunted for squirrels and fished. They had to travel lots of miles to look for food and they also made their own shelter where ever they would end up at night. The band decided to go back for the two old women but most people thought that they would be dead by now. It took the band a while but they found the two old women and they were still alive. Most people agree that it was adventurous and it was about survival.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2007

    A reviewer

    I am a college student. I read this book for my English 126 class. Two Old Women and their names were Ch¿idziyaak and Sa¿. They were dumped by their group and they must get used to their surroundings. Ch¿idziyaak and Sa¿ have to use their past skills and depend on each other to survive. They made it threw a harsh agonizing winter, while their old tribe go through some difficulties as well. The women are afraid Ch¿idziyaak and Sa¿might die because the weather or even other tribes could interfere and kill them. As the worst weather passed their children went back looking for them. This story teaches different lessons in life for example how to appreciate you are family more and how to fight during the worst times to survive and not to judge people their appearance or their actions. I recommend you to read this story it will motivate you. In my opinion I think that there are people out there that have went through something similar to this novel. This book show you how strong the will to survive can be, and also not to underestimate people base on age. This novel is a enormous reading for everybody, especially for the elderly, it goes to show them haw strong they really can be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2007

    Two old women

    In the book two old women written by Velma Willis is an ancient tale about an Alaskan tribe fighting for there lives and fighting to survive the ferocious Alaskan weather. In the tribe there are two old women that every year the tribe protects and takes care of for respect. Until one year the winter months are taking a gigantic tole on the tribe by killing off many from either starvation or disease. The tribe takes a vote and the chief decides to leave the two women behind on their next move. The women are shocked along with one of the women sons. During the book you see signs of leadership, courage, and hope to see the women survive the elements.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2007

    a inspiring novel everyone should experience

    ¿They forgot that we, too, have earned the right to live! So I say if we are going to die, my friend, let us die trying, not sitting.¿ The Story Two Old Women written by Velma Wallis is a inspiring story about the survival of two elderly women in a harsh winter. First off, the story starts in the artic region of Alaska, where food is scarce and in order for survival the tribe must abandon two of their elders so that the environment can take their life away. As they watch their family and friends walk away they decide to show the tribe wrong and that two old women can survive if they have the will. So, throughout the story the women face all odds and continue to outwit the harsh winter. The two women grow mentally, and physically. So did they survive? To discover their fortune you have to read the book. I highly recommend this book for it has a awesome plot, characterization, and theme. To begin, the book Two Old Women has a intense plot line that makes the reader excited to keep reading. ¿Knowing that her friend was dangerously close to accepting a fate of death from cold and hunger, Sa spoke more urgently. ¿Yes, in their own way they have condemned us to die.¿¿ This part of the story made me want to continue to get more involved in the story because I wanted to know if the ladies were going to be strong and get it their every thing. Secondly, this story has impeccable characterization. I feel as though I became part of the old women as I continued reading. When the old women were hopeless it gave me a sense of giving up but when they were determined it made me want to be the same. Velma Wallis did a great job with introducing and producing heart warming characters that make you want to read. Lastly, the book has a great theme. It shows that when you have the will then there is a way. Also, the two old women express that its not about how fit and young a individual is its about how bad they want to survive. Thus, Two Old Women was a phenomenal novel that expressed plot, characterization, and theme in a likeable manner. So, I would absolutely recommend to the teachers that they share this remarkable book with the sophomores to come because it is such a inspiring novel that everyone likes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2007

    Will they survive????

    Two old women by Velma Wallis is a book that will keep you entertained. It¿s kind of boring in the beginning but then it gets really good and you won¿t want to put it down. It¿s a story about an Abathascan Indian legend it takes place along the Yukon River in Alaska during winter. Two old women, Sa¿ and Ch¿idzigyaak became best friends as they had to stick together, after they were abandoned by their own tribe. I liked reading this book because I could relate to both main characters. Sa¿ a optimist and Ch¿idzigyaak a pessimist remind me of me. I¿m we can sit here an optimist most of the time. ¿Our time of leaving this world should not come for a long time yet, but we will die if we just sit here and wait. This would prove them right about our helplessness'. This makes readers realize she¿s an optimist after what she said to Ch¿idzigyaak. Let us die trying said Sa¿. This was a great book I recommend everyone that wants to be inspired to read it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2007

    george, two old women for english class p5

    The book 'Two Old Women' is about two old women, Sa' and Ch'idzigyaak, and how they were abandoned from their Alaskan tribe because of their age and lack of food. The tribe they were in felt it was going to be too much of a burden to keep these two old women with them and alive, so they made the decision to leave them behind to fend for themselves in the dead cold of winter. Left with only an axe, some hides and barely a shelter, Sa' and Ch'idzigyaak decided to prove their tribe wrong, that they were not helpless or worthless. They managed to survive by using their old skills that they were taught as children. Through out this journey they found out that they were stronger and tougher then they thought they were. Managing to survive the first winter on a few rabbits alone they were still strong with the will to survive. That allowed them to survive until the spring were they were truly able to unleash all those old skills, fishing, hunting, tracking and building shelters. By the end of the summer they were ready for the upcoming cold. This book will show you how strong the will to survive can be, and also not to underestimate people based on age. This book is great reading for everybody, especially for the elderly, it goes to show them how strong they really can be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2007

    Mr Stump English class TWO OLD WOMEN

    Two Old Women Review The story ¿Two old women' by Velma Wallis, was an inspirational book that changed my outlook on not only elders but on the way our society lives as well. Our lives and culture are partly based on how elderly and weak are not worth as much as the young and fit. This book has a great plot, theme, and describes the life of two strong willed characters. This book also includes a metaphor for our society all in one easy to read book. The compelling story starts out describing the life of Native American culture, living there are Athabasken Indians. Two elderly women Ch'idzigyaak and Sa' (70-80 yrs old) are abandoned from their tribe, the clan leader made this decision he decided that they have no time or enough food for the elderly to be dragged along. After all their lives are about over, right? The two women are left only a few tools from their family members, they have to use their past skills and depend on each other to survive. They made it threw a harsh agonizing winter, while their old tribe go through some difficulties as well. The women are afraid they might die because the weather or even other tribes could interfere and kill them. But soon enough the tribe goes off to see how the old women are doing. The two old women must decide to help the clan that once left and hurt them or let them be. ¿They think we are too old and useless. They forget that we, too, have earned the right to live! So I say if we are going to die, my friend, let us die trying, not sitting.¿ This quote from the book caught my eye, this one simple sentence made me ponder. Despite the fact that their not only tribe but family members as well have left them they still stay strong. And even if they die they will still be proud of each other because they tried. In this book you will learn that the elders are strong willed women. They not only go through physical but emotional problems as well. When they are abandoned they used there skills from the past they remember it and put it to use after all these years. They both had to accept the fact that their family¿s, daughter¿s and cousins have just left them that easily. The only thing they have now is each other. They both had hope and the love for each other and encouragement they had for each other helped them stay strong and get through it. The surrounds were very inconvenient, the animals were in hibernation and the coldness could give them frost bite. How can two elder women get through these harsh conditions. The book of Two Old Women has a great metaphor revealing inspirational messages not only for children but for the human race to learn from also.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2007

    A reviewer

    Diana Ariana P5 Two Old Women Review The story ¿Two old women' by Velma Wallis, was an inspirational book that changed my outlook on not only elders but on the way our society lives as well. Our lives and culture are partly based on how elderly and weak are not worth as much as the young and fit. This book has a great plot, theme, and describes the life of two strong willed characters. This book also includes a metaphor for our society all in one easy to read book. The compelling story starts out describing the life of Native American culture, living there are Athabasken Indians. Two elderly women Ch'idzigyaak and Sa' are abandoned from their tribe, the clan leader made this decision he decided that they have no time or enough food for the elderly to be dragged along. After all their lives are about over, right? The two women are left only a few tools from their family members, they have to use their past skills and depend on each other to survive. They made it threw a harsh agonizing winter, while their old tribe go through some difficulties as well. The tribe goes off to see how the old women are doing. The two old women must decide to help the clan that once left and hurt them or let them be. ¿They think we are too old and useless. They forget that we, too, have earned the right to live! So I say if we are going to die, my friend, let us die trying, not sitting.¿ This quote from the book caught my eye, this one simple sentence made me ponder. Despite the fact that their not only tribe but family members have left them they still stay strong. And even if they die they will still be proud of each other because they tried. In this book you will learn that the elders are strong willed women. They not only go through physical but emotional problems as well. When they are abandoned they used there skills from the past they remember it and put it to use after all these years. They both had to accept the fact that their family¿s, daughter¿s cousins have just left them that easily. The only thing they have now is each other. Each other is what also has helped them survive, the love for each other and encouragement they had for each other. The book of Two Old Women has a great metaphor revealing inspirational messages not only for children but for the human race to learn from also.

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