Exam 3: Terms
QHQ M Butterfly
“Defining the Trickster” and “Transformations of the Trickster”
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
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: Why is Gallimard so in love with this opera butterfly?
Q: Why is Gallimard considering having an affair with Song?
Q: How does Song get away with being a guy even after
Song and Gallimard slept together?
Q: Why did Gallimard commit suicide.
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: How did Song get pregnant?
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
Q: Why did Song tell Gallimard that “we are revolted by
the things hidden within us?” (Hwang 47)
QHQ: THE FILM: OSAMA
Q: Why did Espandi help Osama?
Q) Did Osama’s mother and grandmother make the correct decision of
forcing Osama to pass?
Q: Did Osama’s mother and grandmother know deep down that Osama
would be eventually caught?
Q: What happened to Osama’s mother and grandmother?
Why does the man offer Osama the locks to choose?
QHQ: THE FILM: OSAMA
Q: Most of the men in the film are depicted as the enemy, although a
few such as Espandi and the hospital worker are not. How did their
actions prove that not all men in that society were harmful?
Q: Why did the milkman hire Osama knowing she was a girl?
Q: How do the women protesting at the beginning at the movie
symbolize social class inequality in the Middle East ?
Q: Why didn’t the women rebel and join together after being forced to
marry the Taliban man and kill him for what he had done?
Q: What does the little girl symbolize while she is jumping the jump
INTRODUCTION TO ESSAY #4:
THE RESEARCH ESSAY.
Trickster characters have existed in stories from
most cultures since the earliest times. The longlasting 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,” writes,
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 transformative behavior.
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 trickster-like
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 transformation.
POSSIBLE TRAITS OF THE TRICKSTER
• 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 enemy.”
• 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
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
• 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 (false frailty).
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
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 TRICKSTER
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