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"Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question

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by

Jordan Tessler

on 1 April 2014

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Transcript of "Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question

Title Meanings: Before reading
"Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question"
Stanzas 1-2
How do you do?
No, I am not Chinese.
No, not Spanish.
No, I am American Indian, Native American.

No, not from India.
No, not Apache
No, not Navajo.
No, not Sioux.
No, we are not extinct.
Yes, Indian.
Stanzas 4-6
stanza 8
Thank you. I like your hair too.
I don't know if anyone knows whether or not Cher
is really Indian.
No, I didn't make it rain tonight.

microcosm
Microcosm of all ethnicities
People of other ethnicities feel the same way about stereotypes
themes
It is a part of human nature to isolate the minority
Mankind has a tendency to be prejudice
It is a flaw in humanity that we think we know someone based off one fact

Stanzas 3
literary elements: diction/tone
Key Words
No
I am not, Chinese, Spanish, Apache, Sioux...
No
we are not
extinct
Oh?
So that' where you got those high cheekbones
Huh?
That
close/tight/much
Yeah it was
awful
what you guys did to us, it was
decent
of you to apologize
Uh huh/Yeah
This
ain't
no
stoic
look
This is my face
"Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question"
R
esponse to a question
Means narrator gets asked that a lot
Indicating unfamiliarity
Narrator's feelings:
Possibly open to idea of answering any questions
Possibly annoyed
"Sure"
Seems nonchalant and open
The Title: After Reading
Oh?
So that's where you got those high cheekbones.
Your great grandmother, huh?
An Indian Princess, huh?
Hair down to there?
Let me guess. Cherokee?

Oh, so you've had an Indian friend?
That close?

Oh, so you've had an Indian lover?
That tight?

Oh, so you've had an Indian servant?
That much?



Stanza 7
Yeah, it was awful what you guys did to us.
It's real decent of you to apologize.
No, I don't know where you can get peyote.
No, I don't know where you can get Navajo rugs real cheap.
No, I didn't make this. I bought it at Bloomingdales.
stanzas 9-10
Yeah. Uh-huh. Spirituality.
Uh-huh. Yeah. Spirituality. Uh-huh. Mother
Earth. Yeah. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Spirituality.

No, I didn't major in archery.
Yeah, a lot of us drink too much.
Some of us can't drink enough.

stanza 11
This ain't no stoic look.
This is my face.
literary elements: Punctuation
Bio:
Trying to draw attention away from her identity as an Indian
questions are about stereotypical Indian attributes
Annoyed
Annoyed by stereotypes
questions have become ridiculous
By this point just agreeing to get conversation over with
Diane Burns
Born in Kansas, 1957
Chemehuevi father
Anishinabe mother
Grew up in CA, WI, then ND
Went Barnard College-dropped out senior year
Invited by Sandinista government to go to Nicaragua for Ruben Dario Poetry Festival
Themes revolve around Native American stereotypes
Lived in NYC until 1949
Died from liver/kidney failure (ironic)
"Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question"
"Sure"
annoyed, closed off, fed-up
Question received a lot
Seems very habitual
Sick of being asked the same question
Doesn't want to deal with stereotypes
Just saying "sure" to be polite
Literary Element:
Repetition
literary elements: stanza divisions/structure
literary elements: sound
literary elements: imagery
A
nswering what she thinks will be the question before she actually gets its
Sick of explaining her ethnicity to people
Mocking what the other person is saying
Irritated with conversation
Acts like she has had the same conversation a million times
The author is being sarcastic towards the other person
The other person see them as an "Indian" and not just any other person
She is tired of people acting like they have a connection with her because they know someone of the same race
Very sarcastic
People must come up to her all the time for something that their ancestors did to hers
It is as if they pity her
She’s joking that it was a nice gesture
People are asking her about stereotypical “Indian” items
They just assume that her race will enable her to help them
Shows people's cultural ignorance and lack of sensitivity
Wants to be taken seriously as an individual
ridiculous that someone would ask if she had a stoic look
"Oh?"
"No, not..."
literary elements: Allusion
Allusion= an indirect or passing reference
Referencing Cher and Bloomingdales
Done to increase the reader's understanding because many are familiar with them
"I don't know if anyone knows whether or not Cher
is really Indian."
"No, I didn't make this. I bought it at Bloomingdales."
eXPLANATION OF DICTION
Chinese
Spanish
Native American
High cheekbones
Indian Princess
Navajo rugs
Cher
Archery
Stoic look
As the poem goes on she gets more annoyed
The stereotypes get worse and worse
People get more offensive as the poem goes on
More sarcastic tone
In many stanzas, each line ends in a question mark
Gives the reader a feeling of the narrator being bombarded with questions
ex: Oh, so you've had an Indian friend?/That close?
In other stanzas the narrator is responding to the questions, and she ends each response with a period
Gives the reader a feeling that the narrator does not enjoy these questions and wants to end the conversation
ex: No, not from India./No, not Apache./No, not Navajo./No, not Sioux./No, we are not extinct./Yes, Indian.

Each stanza is the answer to a different question
Structure emphasizes peoples stupidity
Short stanzas show that she wants the conversation to be over
People get more aggressive
ex: "No, I didn't make it rain tonight."
No:
Shows the authors constant rejection of the other person's wrong assumptions
Extinct:
This is in reference to a human being but it seems to degrade them since they are classified as a different species
Oh?:
This attributes to the sarcastic/mocking tone
Huh?:
Shows the authors annoyance towards the ignorant questions
That:
Emphasizes the authors sarcasm and mockery
Awful:
Displays sarcasm
Decent:
This person is wasting the author's time
Uh huh:
The author is pretending to care but is fed up
Yeah:
Almost like a "whatever"
Ain't:
Shows how the author cannot handle the stereotypes any more, shows her anger
Stoic:
Adds to imagery since it is a very specific word
ex: "Uh-huh. Mother Earth."
Example:
No,
I am not Chinese.

No
, not Spanish.

No,
I am American Indian, Native American.


No,
not from India.

No,
not Apache

No,
not Navajo.

No,
not Sioux.

No,
we are not extinct.
Yes, Indian.

Poem begins with two stanzas of repeated "No"s
Narrator is trying to correct the questionner and wants them to know that she is specifically American Indian, or Native American

Literary Elements: Repetition Cont.
Oh,
so you've had an Indian friend?
That close?


Oh,
so you've had an Indian lover?
That tight?


Oh,
so you've had an Indian servant?
That much?
Attitude transitions into more faked amazement through repeated use of "Oh?"
No longer deems correcting the questionner very important
literary elements: repetition cont.
Yeah. Uh-huh.

Spirituality.

Uh-huh. Yeah.
Spirituality.

Uh-huh. Mother
Earth.

Yeah. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
Spirituality.



Then trasitions into agreeing with the questionner through repeated "Yeah. Uh-huh" to get the conversation over with
Full transcript