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Transcript of Tillie Olsen
Yonnondio, from the Thirties
Tell Me A Riddle:
Mother to Daughter, Daughter to Mother PREPARED BY
IKLIL, SHUREEN, VIOLET, TE’AH
TILLIE OLSEN BORN: either 1912 or 1913 (birth certificate was lost.)
BIRTH NAME: Tillie Lerner
DIED: January 1, 2007 (aged 94) in Oakland, California.
MARRIAGE: 1936, To Jack Olsen TILLIE OLSEN I Stand Here Ironing,
Hey Sailor, What Ship? Author: Tillie Olsen
Publication date: 1974
Publisher: Bison Books
Pages: 196 pp
Status: Unfinished Novel
Yonnondio: From the Thirties It is an unfinished novel. Tillie Olsen wrote the majority of it when she was 19 years old. About Yonnondio: From the Thirties she began the novel in March 1932, the same month she became pregnant with her first child. In 1972, Olsen's husband Jack discovered chapters, notes, and scraps among her old papers. Olsen spent the next two years piecing the novel together; in 1974 it was published in the form we have now.
Dirge: A mournful song, piece of music, or poem.
Yonnondio means lament (mourn) for the lost.
“Lament for the aborigines . . . the word itself a dirge . . .” PLOT SUMMARY In a small Wyoming mining town, Jim Holbrook, a coal miner drinks and beats Anna and their children. Jim is involved in a mine explosion, and goes missing for five days. Jim returns, and wanted to remove his family from the town. In the spring, the Holbrooks travels across Nebraska and South Dakota. At South Dakota the Holbrooks are initially optimistic about the farm’s prospects. Mazie and Will attends school. Mazie befriends Old Man Caldwell, who passes on to him some books when he dies, though Jim promptly sells them. As the winter approaches, Jim realizes that after a year, the family remains in debt. They don’t have enough food. Anna becomes pregnant and ill, Jim leaves the family, returning after ten days. Bess was born, the family moves to Omaha, Nebraska, near a slaughterhouse. The smell makes the children ill. Mazie becomes dreamy and detached, fantasizing about escaping the horrors of the city. Jim gets a job in the sewers. Anna suffers a miscarriage.
Jim gets a job at the slaughterhouse, where he earns a little more money, and buys fireworks on the Fourth of July to celebrate. When she is excluded from the celebration, Mazie becomes conscious of the social and political implications of her gender. The novel terminates in the Holbrook apartment, with Anna singing to Ben and the family listens to the radio together for the first time.
THEME: Poverty Poverty is not just the theme of "Yonnondio."
The book is practically written on pages of poverty, bound with need and want, and written in the language of poverty. The Holbrooks are so poor that it influences everything in their lives. Jim has to work long hours, not just at jobs that he hates, but at jobs that are likely to kill him. Even though Anna had to take care of the house and children, she took in laundry, and did extra cleaning for wealthier people. The family's diet tends to contain two food items at any given time. Point of View Shifts throughout the book.
The story is seen through the eyes of various characters, including Mazie, Anna, and Jim, usually third-person, but often first- or second-person, and sometimes it shifts without warning, so that it does not seem like the perceptions of just one character or narrator. When it is first-person, the character telling the story does not appear to be aware of a narrative flow, but is just living their daily life. When it is second-person, the narrator either treats the reader like just another poor character in the story, or speaks in a stilted manner to the reader, calling attention to the reader's distance from the pain and poverty of the story. movements or words that are not relaxed and natural
Literary Devices Metaphor:
The ice is melting in the iceboxes faster and faster, the melting that is the women's despair. (Chapter 8, Part 1, p. 163)
Metaphor and Onomatopoeia:
The rats shall be your birds, and the rocks plopping in the water your music. (Chapter 1, p. 7) Simile:
The coal dust lies too far inside; it will lie there forever, like a hand squeezing your heart, choking at your throat. (Chapter 1, p. 6) Personification
Sorrow is tongueless. Apprehension tore it out long ago. (Chapter 2, p. 30)
Voices, rising and twining, beauty curving on rainbows of quiet sound, filled their hearts heavy, welled happy tears to Mazie's eyes. (Chapter 3, p. 39) "Be critical. Women have the right to say:This is surface, this falsifies reality, this degrades.”
~Tillie Olsen THANK YOU!