Questions and Answers: Jesus Christ’s Half Brother is Alive and Well on the Spokane Indian Reservation, Approximate Size of my Favorite Tumor and Somebody Kept Saying Powwow
1. What is the meaning of the title “Jesus Christ’s Half Brother is Alive and Well on the Spokane Indian Reservation,” and what does it suggest about James?
2. What does fatherhood teach the narrator in “Jesus Christ’s Half Brother is Alive and Well on the Spokane Indian Reservation"?
3. What does Jimmy help Norma to understand in “The Approximate Size of my Favorite Tumor,” and how is her realization significant?
4. How are Norma’s special talents important to the final story?
5. Why does Norma call Junior “Pete Rose,” and how does the nickname impact the end of “Somebody Kept Saying Powwow”?
1. The title refers to the circumstances of James’s birth; his mother claimed that she was a virgin, and thus, that his birth was a miracle. The title therefore suggests that the baby could be a brother to Jesus Christ. The actual miracle of the story, however, is that James changes his father’s life.
2. Fatherhood brings new joy to the seemingly mundane tasks of everyday life, such as caring for his son or listening to his thoughts; the narrator realizes that his son will teach him something new each day and even care for him in old age.
3. Jimmy helps Norma to accept his mortality; her realization helps each character in their personal struggles. Norma will help Jimmy with the physical experience of dying, and Jimmy will help Norma with the emotional struggle of grieving.
4. Norma is literally a “cultural lifeguard”; she is a wholly positive symbol of Native American culture. Moreover, she possesses the ability to heal others of their pasts, a problem central to many stories in this book.
5. Norma suggests that Junior, like Peter Rose, shouldn’t let one mistake dictate his life or reputation. The joke allows Junior to move on and reinstates his friendship with Norma.