Exam 3: Terms
QHQ M Butterfly
―Defining the Trickster‖ and ―Transformations of the
Introduction to Essay #4
Tricksters and Trickster Tales
Evaluating Song as a Trickster Character
EXAM 3: VOCAB AND TERMS
Answer all 25 questions; there are questions
on the back.
Extra credit to anyone who can identify one or
both of the authors of these two examples that
I used to demonstrate figurative language.
―All the world’s a stage‖
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Q: What is it about Madame Butterfly that catches Gallimard’s
Q. Why would Gallimard keep going back to Song even though
he knew it could never really work out?
Did Gallimard really not know Song was a man for 20 years?
Q: Why is Gallimard so insecure?
Q: What does Gallimard’s interpretation of Madame Butterfly
say about him?
Q: If Song were a real woman, would Gallimard’s masculinity
Q: Why did Gallimard dream of his class mate Marc after
meeting Song at the Chinese Opera House?
Q: Did Song have feelings for M. Gallimard?
Q: Why is Gallimard having an affair with Song and
how did she get pregnant?
Why would Mr. Song go through all the trouble just
to retrieve information for his country?
How did Song establish a reputation for herself as
singer, and how did she target Mr. Gallimard?
Does Comrade Chin believe Song’s behavior is
just to get information?
Q: Why did Song tell Gallimard that ―we are
revolted by the things hidden within us?‖ (Hwang
Q: What do you think shocked Gallimard the most
about Song actually being a man?
Why wasn’t Song more upfront with Gallimard?
Q: Why did Hwang choose the title ―M Butterfly‖, but
not ―Madame Butterfly‖?
Q: What is the significance of Gallimard choosing
fantasy over reality in the end?
Q: Who is the butterfly?
QHQ: THE FILM: OSAMA
Q: Why does Espandi have a change of heart after he extorts
Osama for money?
Q: Why does Osama’s mom force her to pass as a boy? And how
does Osama react to being a boy?
Why couldn’t Osama jump off of the wagon to escape?
Q: What do think happened to the girl’s mother?
QHQ: THE FILM: OSAMA
Q: What does the little girl symbolize while she is jumping the jump
Q: What was so significant about the night time story her grandma
would tell her?
Q: What was the meaning behind the story with the rainbow? Did the
rainbow have anything to do with how we identify sexual orientation
Q: Women play a small role in Afghanistan. How does that influence
them to take the risk to pass as men to work and put food on the
Q: Why do boys pass as girls when living in a society where women
INTRODUCTION TO ESSAY #4:
THE RESEARCH ESSAY.
Trickster characters have existed in stories
from most cultures since the earliest times.
The long-lasting appeal of this archetype (a
recurring symbol of a recurring model)
emphasizes the cultural need to acknowledge
that all is not what it seems to be, that we need
to be on the lookout for those who would fool
us. It is not hard to account for the appeal of
tricksters—they are fun in their radical assault
on the status quo, yet their trickery also strikes
a deeper chord for most people.
As societies have evolved, the cultural function of the trickster
has been reinvented: who or what are they in a modern society?
When and why do they appear?
Helen Lock, in her essay ―Transformations of the Trickster,‖
Contentious issues include the status of the archaic archetypal
tricksters (were they mortal or divine? can a god be a trickster?), the
relation of tricksters to gender and to ethnicity, and the vexed question
of whether modern tricksters exist at all. In one sense it does seem
entirely appropriate that these embodiments of ambiguity (no dispute
there, at least) should remain so elusive. However, it is still important to
address these tricky questions, because the trickster performs such
fundamental cultural work: in understanding the trickster better,
we better understand ourselves, and the perhaps subconscious
aspects of ourselves that respond to the trickster’s unsettling and
For this essay, consider trickster tales and trickster or
trickster-like characters from our reading. Do they meet the
criteria to be categorized as “tricksters”? Which measuring
stick do we use to determine if they are or not? Who or what
are they in a modern society? When and why do they
appear? Is there a relationship between tricksters and
gender and ethnicity? Do these modern tricksters, as Lock
asserts, help us “better understand ourselves, and the
perhaps subconscious aspects of ourselves that respond to
the trickster’s unsettling and transformative behavior”?
How? Or, do these trickster tales and trickster or tricksterlike characters serve another purpose? Which?
Southern slave trickster tales focus on outwitting the
plantation masters; in this way, they deviously
attacked the very system to which they were
condemned: ―They learned what justice was, and
they learned, as slaves, they had none. But they
were able to make up stories and even laugh in the
face of their tragic predicament‖
(Hamilton, A Ring of Tricksters 9).
JEAN HARDY PROVIDES THIS
DEFINITION OF THIS ARCHETYPE:
The archetype of the Trickster…is the existence of the
unexpected as it appears in every human society,
sometimes fully acknowledged, sometimes feared and
hidden. He is the opposite of order – but then he is
opposite of everything: he can turn into a she…He is the
Green Man, the Jester, the clown, the witch or the
wizard, Mercury, a shape shifter … the Fool with the
potential at times for becoming a Savior. He upsets
normality and hierarchic order…He can change the
expected world, and therefore be an agent of
POSSIBLE TRAITS OF THE
• Deceitful: The trickster uses trickery to bring about
• Self-Serving: The trickster often feels that he or she
has been wronged and is therefore justified in taking
action to bring about change and/or to defeat ―the
• Shape Shifter: The trickster may change forms, sex,
and so forth as an element of surprise to his victim.
The change may also be psychological instead of (or
in addition to) a visual change.
The trickster may be idealized as a cultural hero when, as the
agent of transformation, he or she overturns a cruel or unfair
leader or political/social system or reverses the fortunes of the
more powerful party. According to Helen Lock, this characteristic
separates the fool from the trickster. ―The true trickster’s trickery
calls into question fundamental assumptions about the way the
world is organized, and reveals the possibility of transforming
them (even if for ignoble [shameful] ends)‖ (Lock 6). Michael J.
Carroll includes cultural hero as an attribute as well; he
characterizes the trickster as ―a transformer who makes the world
habitable for humans by ridding it of monsters or who provides
those things [such as fire] that make human society possible
(―Levi-Strauss, Freud, and the Trickster‖ 305). Hardy
characterizes the trickster as the source of unexpected changes in
a world where change is not always comfortable and as a symbol
of the uncertain world in which we live.
• Solitary creature: Many tricksters are solitary animals (or
humans), working alone rather than with a partner or within a
group – to undertake change. Michael P. Carroll notes that
―Ravens are usually sighted singly or at most in pairs; coyotes
forage independently…; hares have long been noted for their
solitariness…Spiders generally associate with members of their
own species on only two occasions: when they are born and
when they mate‖ (―Trickster as Selfish Buffoon‖ 115).
• Physically, intellectually, or socially weak creature: The
trickster is often portrayed as a much weaker character than his
prey, and yet through cleverness and trickery, he is able to
overcome all obstacles and prevail. In some cases the trickster
may appear to be weaker physically in order to confuse his prey
Special tools: The trickster may have special tools or
abilities that enable him to perform his acts. Often these
tools include magic and/or supernatural powers. An
example would be the Chinese Monkey who keeps a
needle behind his ear; when he removes the needle and
recites a request, the needle may turn into any tool or
implement that is required for a particular story.
Teacher: The trickster is a purveyor of life lessons
through the stories, from manners to ethics. The teacher
often forces the reader to examine the status quo and
often, ―to break out of old stereotypes, whether they’ve
been imposed by ourselves, our families, our culture, or
circumstances (―The Trickster‖ 3).
IN CLASS WRITING: SONG AS A
How can we envision Song as a Trickster character?
Which of the definitions does she fit?
What are her goals as a trickster?
How many people and how many ways is she fooling people?
What is her motivation?
What are the outcomes?
Does Song help us ―better understand ourselves, and the
perhaps subconscious aspects of ourselves that respond to
the trickster’s unsettling and transformative behavior‖? How?
Or does she/he serve another purpose? Which?
• Which, from our reading, are trickster or trickster-like
characters? Which are trickster tales? What characteristics
make them tricksters? How do we know?
• We have a sense of the what a trickster tale/character is from
the reading we have done in the last couple of days, but to get
a better idea of both that and ways to approach a paper on the
topic, we will visit the library to start our research. There, we will
be looking for information about conventional definitions that we
can connect to (or disconnect from) the passing characters we
have been reading about. Then, you can do some research to
find an interesting angle to use: outlaw tricksters, gender
tricksters, female tricksters.
Reading: Review primary texts you might use in your essay.
Post #24: Discuss one character in terms of one of the traits
we discussed in class today. For example, Jess Goldberg as a
“shape shifter” or “cultural hero”; Grandison as
“intellectually weak”; or Song as “physically weak”; maybe
even the Iowans as “teachers.” Any of them might be
discussed as “agents of change.” Or discuss “Grandison,”
“Recitatif,” and “Who’s Passing as Who” as Trickster tales in
the African American tradition.
Next Class: We will meet in Library Lobby for a library
orientation and an opportunity to do research for your paper.
EWRT 1B: Tuesday, March 11, 11:00am-1:15pm
EWRT 1B: Wednesday, March 12, 8:30-10:45