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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Two Old Women  >  Discussion Questions
 Chapter-by-chapter discussion questions for teachers teaching Velma Wallis’s award-winning novel Two Old Women.
Chapter 1 - Hunger and Cold Take Their Toll
In this chapter The People are starving and desperate. The Chief and the council decide to leave the two frail old women, Sa' and Ch'idzigyaak, behind. Ch'idzigyaak�s daughter and grandson secretly leave a bundle of moose hide string and a hatchet for the two old women. Alone and scared, the two old women resolve to survive or "die trying." Go to discussion questions for chapter 1.

Chapter 2 - Let Us Die Trying
The two old women survive the first night. Sai kills a squirrel, and they realize they might have a chance at survival. They also realize why The People chose to leave them behind; they had become helpless and useless to the band. Go to discussion questions for chapter 2.

Chapter 3 - Recalling Old Skills
The two old women rekindle the skills they once used. They make snowshoes, and tend to another rabbit they have snared. They also recall a place where the resources were once abundant and decide to begin the journey to this place. Go to discussion questions for chapter 3.

Chapter 4 - A Painful Journey
The two old women make the dangerous and exhausting voyage to the old camp, and almost give up at one point. They push on and finally arrive at their destination. Sa' reveals this is not the first time she has been left behind. She tells the story of her youth, and how she rebelled against The People by hunting and trapping like a man. She also explains how she stood up to the chief and was left behind with an old woman. Go to discussion questions for chapter 4.

Chapter 5 - Saving a Cache of Fish
In this chapter the two women begin their spring and summer season, which means serious work to catch and preserve enough game and fish to survive the coming winter. They catch fish and muskrats and Sa' misses an opportunity to kill a moose. They survive the summer and have a vast store of food, but as winter approaches, they fear the darkness and solitude. Go to discussion questions for chapter 5.

Chapter 6 - Sadness among The People
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. Go to discussion questions for chapter 6.

Chapter 7 - The stillness is broken
In this chapter Dagoo and the hunters find the two old women alive and healthy. After an initial tense confrontation, the two old women lay down strict rules about how they will interact with The People. The two old women share their food with the men and promise to share with The People if they promise to follow their demands. Go to discussion questions for chapter 7.

Chapter 8 - A New Beginning
In this final chapter The People and the two old women reunite. Mother and daughter and son are brought back together and the band learns a valuable lesson about communication, respect for the elders, and themselves. The two old women are appointed to the council to share the knowledge they possess. Go to discussion questions for chapter 8.

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