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Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Two Old Women  >  Reading Comprehension Questions
Chapter 4 - A Painful Journey

 Chapter Summary: 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.

Why did the women have such a difficult time building a shelter on the fourth night? (p. 45)

Answer: They were so sore and tired from their travels they could barely move.

Ch’idzigyaak listens to Sa’ cry and does nothing. Why? (p. 46)

Answer: She’s too tired and defeated, and too stiff to move.

How come the women almost give up? (p. 46)

Answer: They have nothing left to prove, they are worn out, and they think they are fighting the inevitable.

Who refuses to give up? (p. 47)

Answer: Sa’.

How does Sa’ cook the rabbit? (p. 47)

Answer: She boils it to make a broth.

Ch’idzigyaak pretends to sleep while Sa’ does all the work. What keeps her from lying still? (p. 47)

Answer: She has to get up to relieve her bladder.

What was the women’s prime source of energy? (p. 50)

Answer: Meat.

What water source were the two old women looking for? (p. 50)

Answer: They sought a narrow creek that would lead them to the place they remembered with all the fish.

What day did the women find the creek? (p. 50)

On the sixth day they found the creek.

Which one of the old women always seems to find the negative side of a situation? (p. 51)

Answer: Ch’idzigyaak.

What is the first sign Ch’idzigyaak sees that tells her she’s at the old campsite? (p. 52)

Answer: She spots the old fish racks they once hung.

What did the old women say when they realized they made it? (p. 52)

Answer: They said nothing, because they were speechless.

Why could the two old women know what the other was thinking? (p. 52)

Answer: Because they had been together in hardship they developed a sense of knowing.

How does Sa’ get the fire going? (p. 54)

Answer: She uses the old embers, places dry willows on top, and blows softly until the sticks catch on fire.

How did the two old women insulate their tent against the coming cold? (p. 55)

Answer: They piled snow on it.

What other preparations did the old women make for the coming cold? (p. 55)

Answer: They gathered all the loose wood they could find.

Ch’idzigyaak tells of The People leaving her grandmother behind. How did her grandmother die? (p. 58)

Answer: Her brother and father went back and ended her life.

Why did they leave the grandmother behind? (p. 58)

Answer: They left her behind because she was old, deaf, and blind.

Why did the brother and father go back? (p. 58)

Answer: They went back to end her life.

What did the father and brother do with the grandmother’s body, and why? (p. 58)

Answer: They burned her body to keep people from eating it.

When Sa’ was young who did she prefer to play with? (p. 59)

Answer: She preferred to play with her brothers.

Sa’s father and brothers “rescued” her from having to do what? (p. 59)

Answer: She was rescued from sewing and the chores that she would have to know when she “became a woman.”

Why did the father and brothers allow Sa’ to participate in the activities of the men? (p. 59)

Answer: She says they liked her that way.

How was Sa’ still free like a child growing up? (p. 60)

Answer: She didn’t have a husband or a child yet.

Why did The People give her strange looks? (p. 60)

Answer: She was tall and didn’t behave like a traditional band member, fulfilling the role of a woman.

How did Sa’ escape discipline for being more “boy” that “girl?” (p. 60)

Answer: She would return with game from successful hunts.

How did her band feel when she brought home more food than the other hunters? (p. 61)

Answer: They didn’t like this.

What rumor prompted the band Sa grew up with to leave the old woman? (p. 61)

Answer: They heard rumor of a distant caribou herd.

Why did they decide to leave the old woman? (p. 61)

Answer: They had to travel quickly and couldn’t carry the woman.

Who was the only person that argued against leaving the old woman? (p. 61)

Answer: Sa was the only person to argue with the band’s decision.

What animal does Sa’ accuse the men of being like? (p. 62)

Answer: Wolves.

Who does Sa’ argue with as she tries to save the old woman? (p. 62)

Answer: She argues with the cruel chief.

How does the chief react to Sa’ yelling in his face? (p. 63)

Answer: He covers her mouth with his hand.

What does the chief call her? (p. 63)

Answer: He calls her a strange young girl.

What ruling does the chief make? (p. 63)

Answer: He says Sa’ will stay with the old woman.

Why doesn’t her family protest the chief’s decision? (p. 63)

Answer: They stay quiet out of pride and shame. They did not want a daughter who would take such a stand against the strong leaders of the group.

Why doesn’t Sa’ apologize to the chief? (p. 63)

Answer: She is too proud.

What happened after Sa’s band left her? (p. 64)

Answer: They lived off of anything they could find and then the old woman died.

What did Sa’ and the old woman eat? (p. 64)

Answer: They ate mice, owls, and anything that moved.

Who did Sa’ talk to after the old woman died? (p. 64)

Answer: The air – she spoke to herself.

What did Sa’ realize about the importance of being with a large group? (p. 65)

Answer: The body needs food, but the mind needs people.

Who did she run into when she was alone? (p. 65)

Answer: She ran into another man.

Why was the man alone? (p. 65)

Answer: He had been banished from the band for fighting over a woman meant for another man.

What happened to Sa’s husband? (p. 66)

Answer: He was killed by a bear.

What rule of nature did Sa’s “foolish” husband break and what was the penalty? (p. 66)

Answer: He tried to fight a bear and it killed him.

What sign did the trees give off that showed how cold the weather had become? (p. 67)

Answer: The trees and willows cracked loudly and the willows snapped.

What was their main concern? (p. 67)

Answer: Staying warm was their main concern.

How did the women overcome their boredom and depression? (p. 68)

Answer: They talked and socialized.

When they had little food, what did the women drink to keep their stomachs full? (p. 68)

Answer: They had a minty tea made from spruce boughs.

After going without food for quite a while, how did the women eat the rabbit they snared? (p. 68)

Answer: First they had broth; then they added small pieces of meat to get their stomachs accustomed to food again.

Once the women had enough wood to keep them warm, they had more time for what? (p. 69)

Answer: They had time for hunting and checking their snares.

What was the rule about snares? (p. 69)

Answer: You must check them regularly.

Why did the women make sure not to neglect their snares? (p. 69)

Answer: Neglect might bring bad luck.

What sort of gifts did the old women make for each other? (p. 70)

Answer: They would sew each other gifts of fur rabbit hats or mittens.

Why were the women happy as winter receded? (p. 70)

Answer: It meant they had survived.

Once the women had grown tired of eating rabbits what food did they dream of? (p. 70)

Answer: They dreamt of willow grouse, tree squirrels, and beaver meat.

Aside from rabbits, what did Ch’idzigyaak snare? (p. 71)

Answer: Willow grouse.

What sound told Ch’idzigyaak that the birds knew she was there? (p. 71)

Answer: They started to “cluck.”

What did Ch’idzigyaak call her position when she tried to catch the grouse? (p. 73)

Answer: She caught the sneaky fox.

What change in season brightened the spirits of the two old women? (p. 73)

Answer: The change from winter to spring brightened their moods.

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