Week Thirty-Five: “Chee’s Daughter” by Juanita Platero and Shiyowin Miller



Edward S. Curtis


“Chee’s Daughter,” a story by Juanita Platero and Siyowin Miller, is about a Navajo man who encounters personal tragedy, only to find that his daughter has been taken away from home because of old customs and traditions. How will his sorrow resolve? Take a look and enjoy this story, which is often included in high school and college textbooks as required reading.
If Chee takes care of his land, will the land take care of him? Enjoy!

Read “Chee’s Daughter” HERE.


“Springtime transformed the mesas. The peach trees in the canyon were shedding fragrance and pink blossoms on the gentled wind. The sheep no longer foraged for the yellow seeds of chamiso but ranged near the hogan with the long-legged new lambs, eating tender young grass.”


For study:  Find three passages in the story which illustrate Chee’s attitude and beliefs about the land.

Vocabulary:  “Coughing Sickness” — Tuberculosis

Activity:  Learn more about Native American life in a Hogan.




“Chee’s Daughter” was first published in 1948.

Culture Connection: Traditional Navajo culture is matrilineal; a family traces its ancestry back through the mother’s line, and children belong to the mother’s clan. Several generations of a family might live together. Women have an important position in Navajo society; the oldest woman in the family enjoys a place at the center of family life. The largest Native American tribe in the United States, the Navajo have adopted peaceful arts—from the Mexicans metalworking, from the Pueblo Indians weaving. The Navajo reside on reservations in northeastern Arizona, north-western New Mexico, and southeastern Utah.


Read more about Navajo life, land and history  HERE.

. . .A Bit About the Authors . . .

Juanita Platero and Shiyowin Miller met in 1929,when Platero was Living on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico and Miller was living in California. The two women collaborated on the novel The Winds Erase your Footprints, which took them several years to write. The theme of that novel, as well as of “Chee’s Daughter,” which first appeared in Common Ground Magazine, is the Native American Struggle to preserve ancient ways amid modern culture.


Week Thirty Four: “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates


Harper Perennial edition, 2007

“Her name was Connie. She was fifteen and she had a quick, nervous giggling habit of craning her neck to glance into mirrors or checking other people’s faces to make sure her own was all right . . .”

Thus begins “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” — a classic and often-anthologized short story by Joyce Carol Oates.

Is this fable? Allegory? Urban Legend? All three? Let us know your thoughts

Read Oates’ story HERE.

“The story first appeared in the Fall 1966 edition of Epoch magazine. It was inspired by four Tucson, Arizona murders committed by Charles Schmid, which were profiled in Life magazine in an article written by Don Moser on March 4, 1966.

Considerable academic analysis has been written about the story, with scholars divided on whether it is intended to be taken literally or as allegory. Several writers focus on the series of numbers written on Friend’s car, which he indicates are a code of some sort, but which is never explained:

“‘Now, these numbers are a secret code, honey,’ Arnold Friend explained. He read off the numbers 33, 19, 17 and raised his eyebrows at her to see what she thought of that, but she didn’t think much of it.” (p. 41)

Literary scholars have interpreted this series of numbers as different Biblical references, as an underlining of Friend’s sexual deviancy, or as a reference to the ages of Friend and his victims.

The narrative has also been viewed as an allegory for initiation into sexual adulthood,[5] an encounter with the devil, a critique of modern youth’s obsession with sexual themes in popular music, or as a dream sequence.”¹

Did you know that “Where Are You Going…” is dedicated Bob Dylan?

Says Oates:

“Baby Blue” didn’t directly influence my short story, which was inspired by a Life magazine article about a serial killer in Tucson, Ariz., but the song’s soul and poetic rhythm were very seductive.

I loved the song’s surreal quality and Dylan’s couplets: “The vagabond who’s rapping at your door / Is standing in the clothes that you once wore.” Or “Strike another match, go start anew,” which suggests renewal and beginning again, only to resolve with the blunt “And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.”

The beauty of the song is that you can never quite comprehend it. We know only that something is over: “The lover who just walked out your door / Has taken all his blankets from the floor / The carpet, too, is moving under you.” A powerful evocation of losing control, of losing everything.”²

. . .For further study . . .

Check out Celestial Timepiece, a brilliant website devoted to all things Joyce Carol Oates.

  . . .A bit about Joyce Carol Oates . . .


Photograph from the New York Times

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including We Were the Mulvaneys; Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award; and the New York Times bestseller The Accursed. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. (Harper Collins)

Bonus Clip: Joyce Carol Oates at home:

¹ Wikipedia

²Celestial Timepiece (an authorized Joyce Carol Oates Website)