Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ishmael and the Trickster Spider


Our facts of the day about Sierra Leone and the United States concerned the most commonly practiced religions in each of these countries. In Seirra Leone, the most popular two religions are the Muslim and Christian faiths and these are mixed with lingering indigenous beliefs. In the United States, the top three religions are Protestant, Roman Catholic, and the Jewish faith.

Already, we've seen that Ishmael, his friends, and his family have a mix of beliefs. Some celebrations and traditions seem to relate more to tribal and indigenous traditions, whereas some of the beliefs that the boys express seem more tied to organized religion.

In our reading of chapter ten, we were able to see Ishmael and his friends welcomed into a village and invited to a feast. Their happiness is short lived, though, as they feel the need to continue their travels and even seem to feel guilty about having too much fun. At the end of the chapter, we learn that Ishmael's family may be alive and well just a few miles away. We'll learn whether or not he catches up with his family next class.

Another huge part of today's discussion was the infamous trickster the Bra Spider. At first, some of us were worried that this was a real type of spider that we should fear, but after we heard the story of the Bra Spider, we knew that this was not the case. We did want to know how this spider got his name, and I think I found the answer this evening. Ms. Petroska, I believe, was on the right track. "Bra" comes from the word "brother" and is similar to the African American contraction "Br'er", as in "Br'er Rabbit". The West African word for spider is "anansi" and a quick search for "br'er anansi" will net you a lot of results about a trickster spider who often gets himself into trouble.

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