1 A meeting of two Americas (excerpts from a novel by Joan Abelove)
a) The novel Go and come back is set among a tribe in the Peruvian rainforest. What do you think life in their community might be like?
Joanna and Margarita, two young white anthropologists from New York, arrive in a Peruvian jungle village to study the lifestyle of the Isabo people. To the locals, they are known as 'the old ladies'. The villagers promise to build a house for them, but until it is finished, they live with Chawla, who also prepares their food. Alicia, an Idaho teenager, observes everything and tells the story of how life in the village is affected by the strange behaviour of the 'old ladies'.
[…] But nothing was simple with these old ladies. They brought a big bottle of sugarcane liquor, enough to keep the whole village drunk for a day and a half, and they didn't want to open the bottle. They were saving it. What was the matter with them? Did they think it would get better with age? When you have liquor you drink it. When you have food, you eat it. It's only natural. When you have food, you make sure to be generous and give some to all your relatives, so when they have some, they will share it with you. That is how you "save" food. The same with liquor. Where did these people come from? How did they live with such stupid ideas? I was upset.
We were all upset. The whole village. Nonti tried to talk to the old ladies.
"I see the village is very sad," he began.
"Sad?" asked Joanna. "What do you mean?"
"They are all sad. Very sad. They want to have a party to welcome you to your new home and now they cannot do so. Therefore, I see that they are very sad. "
The old ladies looked around at everyone.
Then they jabbered at each other in their own language. The tall one was really mad. Joanna kept on turning the fish ring on her hand. Nonti looked up at them sadly. Then he looked at the whole village and sighed again. Finally, they told him yes, they would have a party, but they wanted to save half of the sugarcane liquor for a party when their house was finished. They would only have half a party. Well, that was better than no party. […]