Read the following 2 selections, one from the Native American Culture and the other from the Jewish
culture. Compare and contrast the genres, figurative language, and themes of the tales. Find at least three
differences and three similarities. Develop your ideas into a two or three paragraph essay.
Selection A: "Origin Of The Pleiades And The Pine"
Long ago, when the world was new, there were seven boys who used to spend all their time down by the
townhouse playing the gatayû'stï game, rolling a stone wheel along the ground and sliding a curved stick
after it to strike it. Their mothers scolded, but it did no good, so one day they collected some gatayû'stï
stones and boiled them in the pot with the corn for dinner. When the boys came home hungry their mothers
dipped out the stones and said, "Since you like the gatayû'stï better than the cornfield, take the stones now
for your dinner."
The boys were very angry, and went down to the townhouse, saying, "As our mothers treat us this way, let
us go where we shall never trouble them any more." They began a dance—some say it was the Feather
dance–and went round and round the townhouse, praying to the spirits to help them. At last, their mothers
were afraid something was wrong and went out to look for them. They saw the boys still dancing around the
townhouse, and as they watched, they noticed that their feet were off the earth, and that with every round
they raised higher and higher in the air. They ran to get their children, but it was too late, for they were
already above the roof of the townhouse—all but one, whose mother managed to pull him down with the
gatayû'stï pole, but he struck the ground with such force that he sank into it and the earth closed over him.
The other six circled higher and higher until they went up to the sky, where we see them now as the
Pleiades, which the Cherokee still call Ani'tsutsä (The Boys). The people grieved long after them, but the
mother whose boy had gone into the ground came every morning and every evening to cry over the spot
until the earth was damp with her tears. At last, a little green shoot sprouted up and grew day by day until it
became the tall tree that we call now the pine, and the pine is of the same nature as the stars and holds in
itself the same bright light.
Selection B: "The Tree that Absorbed Tears" Told by Rachel Iizikowich to Yaakov Avizuk
A daughter married and moved to a distant village to live with her husband. The life of the girl was very
bitter. She had no luck and what luck does not give, also the mind cannot change.
Once, the mother visited her daughter. She saw how terrible her life was. She wanted to talk with her, but
was afraid to do it at home in case the husband should hear. So, she asked her daughter to go out with her.
They went and went until they arrived at the nearest forest.
In the forest, they stood under a young and beautiful tree. "Tell me my daughter, what lies heavy on your
heart. Tell me and relieve your sorrow," said the mother. There, the girl cried as she told her secrets and
poured her heart out to her mother.
Said the mother: "Listen to me, I cannot come and visit you every week. I beg you, instruct you and
command you to come and tell this tree once a week all that has passed during the week."
The daughter promised to do it.
After a while, the mother visited her daughter once again. She was glad to see the change in her daughter's
She asked her: "Is it true that your life now is better than before, and you don't suffer so much?"
"No, Mommy. Nothing has changed in my life."
"And why does your face look so much better?"
"I don't know."
"Let us go to the forest," said the mother.
Walking together the girl said, "Once a week I go to the forest to that tree and tell him everything, and then
the heavy burden of suffering leaves my heart."
When they came to the tree, they saw that it was almost dry. They understood that the tears and suffering of
the daughter had been absorbed by the tree and made it dry up.
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