What is problem Bright Morning faces in Sing Down the Moon?

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

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The problem that Bright Morning faces is how she will carve out an individual reaction to the condition of oppression that surrounds her.  As a young girl, Bright Morning experiences this problem on an individual level when she is kidnapped and taken by the Spanish soldiers.  She is enslaved because she is Native American and the Spanish see her as merely an object.  As she is forced into servitude, Bright Morning faces a fundamental problem that is going to be repeated laster on in her life.  When faced with repression, does she capitulate and accept it as a condition of being in the world or does she take the risk of escaping for her freedom?  This is the problem she faces as a child when she has to escape from bondage.  Bright Morning escapes.  In doing so, she carves out her answer that she would take the risk of escape rather than live in bondage and as a slave to another.

This problem reveals itself again when she is older.  In this setting, Bright Morning finds herself subject to the rules and regulations of the United States Government.  The American government sees the Navajo like Bright Morning as a group that needs to be subjugated.  This results in the forced movement of Native Americans onto reservation settings.  Once again, Bright Morning faces the fundamental problem of responding to oppression. This time, she finds that the repression is on a collective and communal scale. Whereas the Spaniards kidnapped her and made social subjugation something that she had to fight alone, the actions of the United States soldiers impact her and members of her community.  She and Tall Boy realize that they cannot stay where they are and must risk everything in order to find freedom.  Bright Morning's response to the problem of oppression is resistance and, through it, an escape to freedom.

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