How are gender issues treated in this story? Is the narrator breaking free from oppression or merely giving in to a new oppressor?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the narrator is seeking to construct her own identity.  Certainly, the narrator recognizes that her identity as a Native American woman is limited by the reality of domestic life.  She is a wife, mother, and someone responsible for the maintenance of the family.  She recognizes that there might be another aspect to her identity in the story.  It is for this reason that she explores who she might be when she is with Silva.  At the end, she does not let the horse take her back to her life.  She sends it on its way and she walks back to her life.  This is significant because it shows her taking active steps towards her embrace of who she is.  The narrator's identity is something towards which she actively walks.  She has not let Silva define who she is as she does not use his horse to go back to her life.  She knows what she is going to tell her family and even regrets that her grandfather is not there.  

The narrator is a complex character.  This is reflective of how a Native American woman's identity is a complex issue.  The narrator is breaking free from oppression in "a journey beyond the boundaries of time and place."  The notion of identity for a Native American Woman is cast in this light.  They become bearers of a tradition that moves past traditional notions of "oppression" and "silence" and into a transcendent world where legends of mysticism become blurred into modern life.

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