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Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Two Old Women  >  Assignment Ideas
Student Example: "Three Themes of Two Old Women" Essay
By Grace Perkins

In the novel Two Old Women there are many themes, but three of the most significant are forgiveness, betrayal, and inner strength. I feel that these are the three most significant because, it takes a lot of strength to forgive someone for something very simple, but in order to forgive your own flesh and blood for leaving you behind in a cold and harsh world. Now that takes real strength. Not only did the two old women forgive their own flesh and blood, but also the entire surviving band of people, the council, and the chief himself whom abandoned the two helpless old women. Betrayal is also a major theme within this story. The band betrayed the two old women, and left them in the cold dead of winter so that they could survive. The band of people thought that the two old women were a burden upon the group, so they left them there and figured that they would die from starvation or die of the cold weather. Inner strength is one of the most important aspects of the novel. You can never know how strong you are physically and emotionally until you are put in a position where you must try your hardest everyday to survive. Inner strength is a way of showing the world that you can survive, when the world really thinks that you should die. Forgiveness, betrayal, and inner strength all intertwine and show that when everyone thinks that you are done with life and you have lived all that you should, you rise to the occasion and prove to them that you are able to survive and that you are not done living no matter what the circumstances.

Forgiveness in this novel plays a big part and shows that you are able to forgive someone even in the most horrible circumstances. This shows that even when the worst events happen, that sometimes these things happen for the good and it brings out the best in people. One touching example of forgiveness occurs within the lines, "Again the women fell into one another's arms and embraced. The women stared at each other until Chidzigyaak walked to Ozhii Nelii and embraced her tightly, weeping. All that had stood between them seemed to vanish with the touch." In the midst of the worst conditions, Chidzigyaak found the strength to forgive her daughter and move on to show that all hard feelings had been lost.

Betrayal also intertwines with forgiveness. The two old women were betrayed by the band of people, the chief and their own flesh and blood. The betrayal happens when the Chief says, "The council and I have arrived at a decision. The chief paused as if to find the strength to voice the next words. We are going to have to leave the old ones behind." Chidzigyaak was betrayed by her own flesh and blood. They made no attempt to get the chief and the council to change their mind "The chief looked into the crowd for them and saw that they, too had shown no reaction."

The two old women had more inner strength then most anyone else in this world. They decided early on that they were not going to accept defeat. They would strive their hardest to survive and prove to the wilderness and the people that they were not ready to die, and that they had a place in this world and should not be taken out of it. The women never gave up. Although the thought may have crossed their mind, they never gave up they always persevered. When they were not hunting for food or sleeping, they were thinking of places that they could travel to that there was food that could sustain them for as long as they lived.Chidzigyaak said, "I know of a place." The two women traveled for days to go to this place that so long ago sustained there band of people. When everyone thought that the women would die, they found the inner strength to not only survive but thrive when the people themselves were barley surviving.Inner strength is something that the two old women embraced to no end.

These three themes all intertwine to show that even though people may think that you are useless, and are a waste of food or shelteryou have a purpose, and are an asset to society. Forgiveness, betrayal, and inner strength all go to show that anything is possible. Forgiveness is something that is a possibility no matter what the circumstance, betrayal can happen to anyone, but people can strive to show that they had no right to be betrayed in the first place. Inner strength is something that the two old women embraced to no end. They strived to prove that they were worth being alive and were worthy to be part of a band.

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