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Cowboys and Indians

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Submitted By JulieLV
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Cowboys and Indians

1. “Cowboys and Indians” is a short story written by Lorien Crow in 2008. We are in New Mexico; it’s a warm day in February. The narrator is a young girl/woman, and she is at her grandmother’s funeral. She is old enough to attend this funeral as an adult, and she is expected to be there to shake hands with the last people leaving. But she still feels like a teenager that needs to escape. This longing to escape drives her to call her rebellion cousin, David. Together they ride on his Ducati. David is half outlaw – half Indian. After a stop at a local bar, they decide to watch the sunset up in the bluffs. As the sun goes down, they start to talk about their grandmother and her life. We hear about David’s quilt, we get to know her thoughts about their grandmother’s life and we start to notice the difference between them.

2. The narrator is no longer a teenager, but not a completely adult yet. David is her idol. She looks up to him, she feels protected and safe with him, and at some point she wants to be like him. He amazes her, scares her and challenges her. When she thinks about her grandmother, she believes that she had a full life. She understands the great meaning of hard work and she has a great respect towards her grandmother for all the work she did throughout her whole life.
She, like David, is the black sheep of the family – hated by the dead grandfather. She doesn’t appear to be an ordinary girl. She has some half-vanished nail polish, but she doesn’t want anyone to think of her as a frilly, she wants to appear tougher than she is, maybe because she wants to impress David, maybe simply because she wishes she could be as free as him. She wants her hands to be more callused, not so soft.

3. At first, the narrator and David seem very similar. But then, as we dive deeper into the story, we begin to see the differences between them. First of all they are of opposite sex. This makes a big difference when it comes to understanding the meaning of “a full life.” The narrator believes that since their grandmother worked so hard in life and worked without all the equipment we have today and because she bore seven kids, she had a full life. But she can’t express the importance of all these things to David; “He would never think of them as accomplishments, he would never be expected to perform any of them, or even to try.” (Line 95)
Another big difference between them is shown in the end of the story: after watching the sunset and before turning back to the funeral, they stop at a place to eat. Here they meet two abuelitas. The narrator can see a smile in their beautiful wrinkles by the corners of their eyes. David talks to them about the wind, and one of them answers: “The Navajo women say this wind, it brings devil spirits with it (…,) This wind came with you! You devil spirits? Huh?”

As they drive away David asks her (the narrator) “see what I mean?” but she doesn’t understand why he is so spooked – the abuelitas were just having some fun. But then she tries to consider what the words might have meant if she had been considered an outlaw her whole life.
“Cowboys and Indians, coz, I told you” says David. “Just the way it is out here.”
When they arrive back at their grandmother’s house, the people are still inside. David can’t deal with coming inside, and she doesn’t understand why.
David will turn back into Wild Charming Boy, and she back into Wise Ass East Coast girl. We are not told what it is that makes it so hard for David to enter the house. Maybe it’s the quilt for not visiting his grandmother, maybe it is all the people inside or maybe it is simply because he’s been seen as an outlaw his whole life, so why change it now.
“Why” is also a question the narrator asks herself: “Why is it that I can to this, switch gears, when David cannot?” (Line 145) She will return to the house and the expectations, and “David rides through the desert with devil spirits at his boot heels.” (Line 148) And before entering the house, all she can think is: “it’s not just here. It’s like this everywhere. Cowboys and Indians; that’s how it is.” (Line 150) This difference between them, is a difference we don’t get to fully understand in this story, we just know it is there. Their similarities is things like the joy of motorcycles, their special get-away place “Navajo,” they are related etc. – on the surface they are similar.

4. An outsider is someone that doesn’t fit it everywhere and with everyone. An outside doesn’t mingle. The word “outsider” is mainly used as a negative word, but to be an outsider isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I know many outsiders whom are actually happy for the life they live, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. But it depends on many things, and there are many different types of ‘outsiders.’ * If you are an outsider in school, it means you eat alone, you walk home alone, you don’t hang out with the ‘cool’ kids, and you are never invited to all the big parties. * If you are an outsider at your work, for example at an office, you sit alone during the lunch breaks – maybe you just work throughout the whole time you’re at the office so that you can get home to your family in time to eat with you kids. You never have an after-work-beer, and you never attend to the big annual Christmas-dinner and when your co-workers greet you, they never do it by name - most likely because they forgot it already. * If you are an outsider in a country it means that you feel like you are not welcome, people treat you different and you never feel like a part of anything. You would be a part of the croup the natives call “them” and never feel like “one of us.” There is so many difference ways to be an outsider, some bad, and some good. But to be an outsider in the country you live in, because of your skin-color or nationality – that is the worst way to be an outsider.

Made by Julie Lawaetz Vogt.

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