Dr. Juniper Ellis
Stephen Graham Jones is a Blackfeet Native American author who has written stores about zombies, wolves, and several other extremely outlandish fiction. He said the reason why he writes these disturbing but really interesting stories is because of his “low boredom threshold”. Jones does not like read nor write boring stories. He likes the element of surprise when both reading and writing. While listening as Jones reads out loud parts of his stories, I immediately thought “How was I supposed to compare his stories about zombies and wolves to poetry?” But, after further thinking and dwelling on each readings, I realized some of Jones’s work had similarities with each of the readings.
Who would have thought Jones’s story Old Meat, a story about a wife changing into a wolf unknowingly, would have connections with The serve of Faith and Promotion of Justice in Jesuit Higher Education. In the story Old Meat, the husband tells the story about how his wife changes into a wolf. The catch, the wife knows nothing about this materializing. The husband has yet to tell her. However, he feels as if their relationship and his love for her only get stronger with the passing years; which is understandable since they have been married for 38 years. In The Serve of Faith and Promotion of Justice in Jesuit Higher Education, the author, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, explains the meaning behind what constitutes a Jesuit Education. He says one must go out and put what they learned in the classroom to use, to help others, and to love. Kolvenbach writes, “Saint Ignatius wanted love to be expressed not only in words but also in deeds” (27). I thought this was a perfect way to connect Old Meat with The Serve of Faith and Promotion of Justice in Jesuit Higher Education. Both pieces of writings have moments of unconditional love. Kolvenbach tells his readers to not just sit back and learn about poverty in an area, but to actually go out and help those people. A person would not like to be taken out of their comfort zone unless they were truly into the cause. At the same time, the husband in Old Meat expressed his love for his wife by staying by her side regardless of what she is.
The Old Meat story also connects to Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall. In the poem Mending Wall, the quote “Good Fences make good neighbors” (15) in a strange way resembles the husband decision to keep the fact that his wife changes into a wolf a secret. When first reading that quote, one interrupts the meaning as separation is a good thing. As long as that fence is still up, problems between the neighbors will cease to exist. As long as the fence, the secret, in the husband’s case, is kept, the relationship between him and his wife will still survive. Who really knows what would happen if the fence is taken down.
One of Jones’s stories that was read aloud was the many stereotypes he encountered while traveling across the country. Because of his Indian heritage, he has come across many awkward conversations about his culture and his way of life. Jones has been asked what his spirit animal was, the inquirer assuming all Indians would possess one because that is what we have seen in movies or heard from word of mouth. His story is similar to Frances E. W. Harper’s poem Learning to Read. Both works deals with harassment. Learning to Read is in the point of view of an older slave beating the stereotypes and looks of inferiority by learning how to read. As the people from the North came down south to teach slaves to read, he, the slave, took advantage of the occasion even if his master Rebs “sneer and frown” (28). However, Jones’s experiences slightly differs from the slave’s story. While both had to undergo challenges regarding their race, Jones never stayed in the same place for too long. Part of this has to do with the time periods, but it took Jones a while to accept who he was and overcome this obstacle while the slave had no choice but to stay and face the hardship right away.
The story about Jones’s adventures also coincides with Jill McDonough’s poem Accident, Mass. Ave. Both describes stereotypes. As stated before, Jones was asked stereotypical questions and endured insulting comments. In Accident Mass. Ave, a women runs her car into the speaker’s car. He says “But she lived and drove in Boston, too, so she knew, we both knew, that the thing to do is get out of the car, slam the door as hard as you…can and yell things” (9). And yell they did. But at the end of their argument, they both realized the damage was little to none. The yelling was a waste of both of their times. If they did not live up to the stereotypes by automatically assuming there was big damage, they could have saved a lot of time, energy, and maybe some of their dignity as well.
Surprisingly, Stephen Graham Jones’s stories are very relatable to the most unsuspecting pieces of works. In order to get the most out of the events and how it relates in the assigned readings, the student has to think deeply and look at every aspect of the work. It is very interesting finding comparisons on two seemingly different topics.