Sing Down the Moon

by Scott O'Dell, Odell Gabriel Scott

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 295

1. Tall Boy's loss of the use of his right arm may be seen as a symbol. Review what we learn about that arm, how it is hurt, what the loss means, and what he says about the wound. Write a paper explaining how the wound functions as a symbol in the novel. What does Tall Boy learn from Bright Morning's response to his injury?

2. O'Dell has said, "I'm not interested in the Navajos particularly—they're not my favorite tribe even. They were marauders—they rode in and took the crops of other Indians, after harvest sometimes." Does his attitude towards the Navaho show in the story? Write a paper discussing the weaknesses of Navaho culture that most seem to influence how the story is told.

3. Think about the married life of Bright Morning and Tall Boy. Write a sketch of what this life would have been like had the two married as they originally planned—she wealthy in sheep and he a successful hunter and warrior. Describe and explain the most interesting similarities and contrasts between this picture and the actual situation.

4. Use an encyclopedia and other sources to learn about the culture or history of the Navaho. Write a report about how O'Dell incorporates this information into his novel. Note any new facts that surprise you.

5. Use an encyclopedia and other sources to learn about the Navaho's long march to Fort Sumner in 1864. Explain the differences between the historical account and the one presented in Sing Down the Moon.

6. O'Dell refers briefly to one of the most horrendous acts of violence by white settlers against Native Americans: the nighttime massacre, led by J. M. Chivington, of an entire village of three hundred Arapaho and Cheyenne. Research the historical events that led to this massacre.

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