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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Two Old Women  >  Discussion Questions
Chapter 6 - Sadness among The People

 Chapter Summary: In this chapter the people are in a desperate state. They return to the place where they left the two old women and find no trace of them. The chief makes the bold decision to send hunters out to find them, partially out of guilt, and partially to make amends. The hunters set off and find the trail of the two old women. Dagoo, the elder of the group, believes the women might still be alive and uses his tracking skills to find their camp.

Discussion Questions for Chapter Six:

Why might luck have turned against The People? (p. 93)

Points to consider:

  • Their decision to leave behind the elders might have brought them bad luck.
  • The band had lost some of the ideals from their culture, respecting elders, and in doing so they had broken their own rules, and nature’s punishment might have been the bad luck.

How does a leader’s attitude affect the people he leads? What makes a good leader? (p. 94)

Points to consider:

  • In this case, the leader’s choices hurt the people.
  • Initially the chief makes a series of bad decisions but he tries to make up for them and he learns from his mistakes. A strong leader might try to use the wisdom of those around him and not make brash decisions.

Why did The People seem to give up trying to survive? (p. 95)

Points to consider:

  • They may have quit trying to survive out of a sense of guilt.
  • Despair at the loss of the two old women and their choice to leave them, combined with the deaths of the children, diminished their drive to survive.

Why do you think the chief returned to the place where they had left the old women? (p. 95)

Points to consider:

  • The chief may have understood that he needed to repair the damage his decision did to the tribe.
  • The bad luck started there and he needed to return to make amends.

What do you think the people expected to find when they returned to the site of where they left the two old women? (p. 96)

Points to consider:

  • They expected to find some remains or signs they had remained there.
  • They did not expect to find anything at all!

Why do you think the chief had a strange sense of hope? (p. 98)

Points to consider:

  • Perhaps this is why he was the chief in the first place; he had to have hope for his people and for a chance at redemption.

The chief feels The People had “inflicted an injustice on themselves and the two old women.” Why does he feel this way? (p. 98)

Points to consider:

  • This is a combined sense of guilt for his decision and for allowing the council to decide to leave the two old women behind.
  • He also understands that to leave the women behind, the tribe had left a part of itself and this brought the injustice upon them all.

What senses does Dagoo use to find the women? (p. 101)

Points to consider:

  • Dagoo uses his tracking skills. He sees the bark removed from birch trees and smells the smoke wafting through the woods.
  • Dagoo also uses a sort of sixth sense, an understanding of nature and a sense that the women are still alive and out there somewhere.

How does “the silent thinking” create problems for The People? (p. 102)

Points to consider:

  • This silent thinking is what got The People into trouble in the first place. No one questions authority, no one talks through their decisions, and everyone fears the power of their thoughts.
  • Had the people been more open and communicated, they might have learned of the knowledge the elders had, and at the same time, the elders might have learned that they couldn’t just be lazy and expect to be cared for because they were old.

Why do you think the other three hunters are so quick to dismiss what Dagoo thinks? (p. 103)

Points to consider:

  • The three hunters have been raised to think that the elderly don’t have anything to contribute.
  • They don’t respect the elders because the elders were the ones that got them into this situation in the first place.

Chills run down the spines of the younger men when Dagoo says, “The two old women are near.” Why? (p. 105)

Points to consider:

  • The idea that the two old women might actually be alive is somewhat mysterious and haunting. They may also feel like the spirits of the women are near.
  • The other reason they may get chills is that they could never imagine the two old women alive, and this scares them.


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