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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Ordinary Wolves  >  Discussion Questions
Chapter 20
Chapter Summary: 
Cutuk reads a news story of a woman being raped and killed. He finds out the woman was Hannah Wanna, the woman who fed him pizza when he was on the streets of Anchorage. His call to Takunak brings news of suicides and fat caribou. He goes out drinking and is befriended by Bobby. They go for a ride and Bobby throws a bottle at a drunken couple, one of whom Cutuk thinks was from Takunak. Angry and disgusted, Cutuk vomits all over Bobby's fancy car. Cutuk walks the streets and decides to throw Enuk's ivory bear away to get rid of the bad luck. Back at January's trailer, January tells stories about Enuk and Abe and makes plans for Cutuk's money.

Discussion Questions:

How does Cutuk equate telephones and money? (p. 227)

Points to Consider:

  • He claims the two "leave you worse than alone." Telephones connect us with the world but can't connect us emotionally, and money can buy material objects but not love, so the two are similar in what they won't do.

Why do you think Cutuk reacts the way he does after reading the news of Hannah Wanna? (p. 228)

Points to Consider:

  • He at first has a gut feeling it might be Hannah, so he called Takunak for news. The news there is mixed, fat caribou and another suicide. Hannah helped him, fed him and comforted him in Anchorage, and now Anchorage took her life.
  • The news prompts Cutuk to decide between leaving for Takunak and going out drinking. He chooses the latter after finding January's plane is gone.

Why does Cutuk choose to vomit in Bobby's car instead of try to convince him about Inupiaq people and life in the arctic?

Points to Consider:

  • He's disgusted by Bobby's actions and doesn't want to put forth the effort, when he knows the young boy is too entrenched in his ways.
  • Bobby also represents consumer society in a larger sense, and in vomiting Cutuk is dispelling what is left of city life.

Why do you think the kids in Iris's class refuse to write about their life experiences?

Points to Consider:

  • Culturally they have been taught not to talk about bad things. They also probably don't feel comfortable sharing their home life with their teachers, as the teachers have traditionally been outsiders.

Why does Cutuk throw Enuk's bear away? (p. 238)

Points to Consider:

  • He decides the bear might be bad luck. He decides if he needs to get rid of it his hand will open when he attempts a throw. The first time his hand stays closed, but the second time he nearly throws his arm out and the pain causes him to let the ivory bear sail away.
  • He's also concerned with Dawna's safety in Uktu, so by getting rid of the bear he might be dispelling the bad luck that led to Hannah's death.

What do you think January's story about Enuk's strength and his visits with Abe do for Cutuk?

Points to Consider:

  • Hearing January tell stories of Enuk's strength and wisdom, and his interest in Abe's ability to live like an Eskimo, probably give Cutuk a sense of pride in knowing that Enuk respected his father.

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